The parliamentary elections over the past month give new meaning to the late President Anwar al Sadat's warning to rioters in 1977 that 'democracy has fangs and claws'. His successor President Hosni Mubarak's regime, together with secular oppositionists, have long argued that Egypt's Islamists would win no more than a quarter of the vote in free elections. That the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) could win nearly 40 per cent of the popular vote, despite heavy electoral violations, has come as a shock. The claws, it seems, are no longer just on the regime's side.
On 15 January, Libya is to host talks between Khartoum's Islamist government and rebels grouped in the Eastern Front organisation. Last month, the Front attended a workshop at its base in Asmara, organised by Britain's Concordis International. Few have paid attention to the eastern peoples' grievances although the region hosts the only deep water port and oil export terminal, and borders Eritrea and Ethiopia. The dominant ethnic group established the Beja National Congress (now the Beja Congress, BC) in 1958.