In a best-case scenario, the horrific mosque attack will create a backlash against IS, which the state could capitalize on by improving relations with civilians and ensuring local support. However, a speech given by Egyptian President Abdel_Fattah_alSisi on 29 November 2017 struck a less hopeful tone.
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Whatever the case, such dramatic changes come at a price. The crown prince is consolidating power to a degree Saudi Arabia has not seen in generations. MBS has dismantled that system, alienating almost everyone and fundamentally altering the governance dynamics of the kingdom. By consolidating power, MBS seems to be offering a larger degree of social freedom, but there can surely be little room for dissent during this mega-transformation.
Aside from embezzlement and corruption, al-Otaiba was implicated in even more serious scandals. The Huffington Post, which was provided with another batch of the leaked emails, broke the story of al-Otaiba supporting a major effort to raise doubts about Qatar in the minds of Americans since 2014, a mission in which he has been largely unsuccessful despite the row between the Gulf state and several other countries, including the UAE, over its alleged support of terrorism that erupted in May 2017.
The losses under Russian bombardment have added to HTS’ recent woes, which include a string of assassinations and defections of key figures in Idlib. In addition, it is unlikely that the Syrian government and its allies will allow the densely populated and strategically located province to remain outside its control. The ouster of HTS and implementation of the de-escalation agreement might minimize the number of civilian casualties, but the end result in either case is almost certainly a return of regime control in Idlib.
Since winning the Arabic Booker in 2009, he has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of religious extremism and cultural decline in Egypt. His voice is one among a growing number in Egypt calling for cultural change, change that can only happen if Egyptians begin to question dearly held beliefs, especially religious ones.
The Egyptian president has called on al-Azhar repeatedly to reform its religious discourse, especially the fatwas it issues, in order for religion to meet the needs of modern times. He has urged Egyptian clerics to counter the rhetoric of religious extremists in general and the Islamic State (IS) in particular.
The survival of IS’ media outlets will determine the capacity of the group to rebound from its losses in Iraq and Syria, rally its supporters and inspire continued allegiance. IS’ Amaq news agency remains active online, helping to spawn the lone wolf attacks that have plagued IS’ enemies from Australia to Brazil. These ardent followers represent a potent new global threat, one as difficult to calculate as it is to counter.