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Urbanization In Egypt

Egypt’s capital–Cairo–has been facing the problem of overpopulation since 1960s, the most recent data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics in Egypt stated that within the Cairo governate, the overall urban population density is 117,000 per square mile—1.5 times more than the population density of Manhattan and the ville de Paris.



Within Cairo, there are four different governates, and one that had the most significant gain is the one located in urban Cairo—Giza. It is located at the west bank of Nile river, and is considered the core of the urban area in Egypt. As a comparison, Kalyoubia is located to the north of Cairo and the majority of its population live in rural areas. Overall, from 1937-2012, the growth of the urban area is significantly bigger than that of rural areas.  Many people choose to move to Cairo because it symbolizes concentration of control, resources and countless opportunities in the minds of most people in Cairo, which established a centralized social order by which the whole population aspires the citizenship in Cairo. Therefore, this ambition to acquire citizenship of the metropolitan city generated a huge immigration from rural regions to urban areas.


As a result of Egypt’s rapid urbanization process, an increasing number of buildings and factories was built. Since the 1970s, the brick buildings were built on the farmland with Nile silt that provide rich topsoil for the foundation of agriculture in Egypt. There is a distinctive line between these 12-story, unpainted, brick buildings and the farmland near the capital. Due to the limited amount of lands available, the buildings and farmland are in direct competition.  Greater Cairo hosts about twenty percent of the country’s total population, over 18 million people. In doing so, a growing trend of informal and unsafe ares is generated by this huge presence of urban population. About 1,171 areas in Egypt are considered informal, and 60 percent of these areas are located in Cairo.


The Egyptian government banned building on agricultural land in order to push the expansion of big cities into desert, and to gain the massive new investment. Regardless of the ban on construction on agricultural land, most new construction in Egypt is located on farmland, which is a big problem for the country since only 2.75 percent of its land is suitable for farming. Each year, 16,000 acres of agricultural land are diminishing as a result of new construction projects. A growing trend of informal and unsafe ares is also generated by the huge presence of urban population. About 1,171 areas in Egypt are considered informal, and 60 percent of these areas are located in Cairo.  A contractor could pay a bribe of £230 for an illegal apartment to get power, and £900 for a building to be connected to the grid. The reason that more people are willing to live in these illegal apartments than government supported buildings is that there’s no “soft infrastructure”. Although the government has build roads, pipes, and power lines, there are not enough schools, hospitals, and cultural activities.


Due to the unprecedented rapid urban growth over the past four decades, the infrastructure and service delivery system have troubles keeping up with cities’ population burden. Impoverished people have to settle in unplanned or unsafe areas because there is no public land or workable housing policies. After a while, problems like infrastructure deterioration, insufficient public transportation, high air and noise pollution, and traffic congestion surfaced as the result of improper planning. Urbanization in Egypt affects not only the capital, but also regional capitals, such as the Alexandria, by increasing their population exponentially caused by both the rural population shift and the demographic explosion. Currently, the biggest threat to the natural resources in Egypt is urban expansion and population growth. Water pollution and poor sewage treatment is partly responsible for the high infant mortality throughout Egypt.

Commotion in Cairo

Despite past efforts to restrict the growth of urbanization throughout Egypt it is currently still rapidly increasing. This expansion of settlements began happening shortly after WW ll. The Egyptian officials at that time attempted to limit the amount of development that was taking place. At first, they tried to build housing outside of the city in more rural areas but the problem with this is that there wasn’t a high demand for people to buy houses or even rent apartments.

informal housing cairo

The annual growth of people in cities like Cairo is around 2.3% which is a lot of people per year. This can be seen as a good thing for the economy because the people living there and or moving would be bringing in money. In contrast, the increase in population also causes a downfall. The problem is with jobs being taken away from people who were originally there causing conflict amongst people.

Due to the amount of people living within Cairo, it has caused a major overpopulation of poor or homeless people who are living in the slums in the city. The people living in those conditions do not have the basic resources like water and sewage to use the bathroom. This situation of living is referred to as a ramshackle and over 850,000 people are experiencing this type of living inside of Egypt. Unfortunately, not many people have a choice whether or they live in this condition. One reason is because the people are poor they do not have enough money to move to another location and there is also more food in the city than in the surrounding area.

MDG : Egypt : Women buy bread from the window of a bakery in Cairo

Another reason is the fact that the Nile River, the main water source, experiences drought conditions periodically.

(shown above) The lightest purple color is the most dense area, which is where the capital of Egypt is that being Cairo, one of the biggest cities. Not very clear on this population map is one of the reasons for the significant growth. The Nile river that runs right through Cairo which is one of the main ways people get their water. In the past, parts of the 4,258 mile Nile have unfortunately dried up causing the problem of internal migration. The people who lived in some of the rural areas and countries cannot grow crops without some type of irrigation. This is part of surviving because water is so important considering some of the hot temperatures the country experiences.

Cairo, like many cities in developing countries, is struggling to deal with an increase in population. As people move into the city looking for job opportunities in order to make money, water shortages, food shortages, as well as standard housing shortages are all inevitable. Although, the government has attempted to alleviate these problems by building cheap housing outside of the city it has not been successful. But, there is a new idea to try and make “new towns” that are self-sufficient and far enough away from the big city of Cairo so people cannot commute with ease.


Environmental issues with Urbanization in Iran

In Iran, the recent increase in urban living, mostly due to higher wages and less physical jobs, has had environmental impacts, mostly the formation of a thick smog in major cities and a loss of water in aquifers, lakes, and rivers. Because it is so difficult to make any money through farming, more and more people have moved into the cities for jobs. Poverty and unemployment remain issues in rural areas.


However, other issues plague urban areas. In large cities such as Tehran, a dirty brown layer of smog envelopes the streets for much of the year. The people living in Iran’s capital city have over 260 smog filled days per year, and Iran’s health ministry links this with a rise in respiratory disease. The air pollution, surely in part caused by an increase in urban populations, has gotten so bad that cancer and respiratory illnesses, likely caused by this air pollution, have become the 2nd and 3rd highest causes of death in Iran. 


This image shows the smog and pollution in the now urbanized and highly populated city of Tehran. Air pollution in major cities in Iran has become a huge problem, both from environmental and health reasons.

Pollution has recently become so bad that last December, schools closed in Tehran when the airborne concentration of fine particles in the city was almost eight times the recommended maximum. Approximately 5 million tons of carbon dioxide are being put into Tehran’s atmosphere each year, and many other pollutants are added from low quality domestically-produced gasoline. To make matters worse, the weather phenomenon known as “Temperature Inversion” creates a bubble around the city, trapping pollutants and smog where people are forced to breath it in.


In fact, environmental issues in Iran are such a huge problem that  the World Health Organization named four of Iran’s cities part of the top ten most polluted cities in the world! The Irani government has placed restrictions on cars, banning even and odd license plated cars every other day, alternating. However, this is a short term solution, which doesn’t really solve the problem. Since the government doesn’t have a real plan to get rid of smog (just a way to make less of it) the only solution is to wait indoors until the rain or wind sweeps it away.

Rapid urbanization has hurt the environment in other ways as well. Rivers and lakes that were once important to the the area’s way of life are now drying up, leading to dust storms which hurt livestock and agriculture. Dam building and and increase in water needs in the population due to urbanization has directly affected water use and the desertification of Iran, as well as contributing to the drying out of many aquifers. Water is a much needed resource, and has high baseline water stress due to overuse. In fact, by 2040, Iran is expected to rank 13th-most water-stressed in the world.


There are good reasons to have a higher rural population too. Nomads and other people living in rural areas produce 5.7 million tons of goods per year, including almost 200,000 tons of red meat. Iran actually has over 1 million nomads, 1.25% of the total population. Having high employment rates on farms and in the agricultural sector helps with food security and prevents the difficulties tied to urbanization. In Iran, where the economy is still lagging compared to the rest of the world in terms of technology, rural communities are vital to their way of life. 

Unfortunately, much of Iran’s land is unsuitable for farming and the rest is poor quality. Urban culture and consumerism are also a cause of urbanization and the abandonment of the countryside. The urban lifestyle is just too appealing for young people.

The rapid urbanization in Iran has led to many environmental issues, both for those living in the cities and outside of them.

Extreme Urbanization in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E)

The UAE is naturally blessed with an abundance of natural oils.  This bountiful and profitable resource was not discovered until 1958.  Commercial drilling did not begin until 1962, which replaced the UAE’s previously lucrative and main industry of pearling.  This began the successful and monumental shift in the UAE’s economy and lead the country towards severe industrial changes.

The main features of new infrastructure and urbanization were not built until the late 80s and early 90s, but since then, the UAE’s skyline has developed exponentially.  This development does not only include the UAE’s buildings, but it is also their road system, clean water projects, irrigation, ports, as well as airlines. All construction was implemented under the notion that each project would help to diversify their economy by creating capital intensive businesses based on their oil and gas resources.  

The intricate highway road system and growing skyline of Dubai, UAE.

Within the UAE, there are seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ajman, Emirate of Sharjah, and Ras al-Khaimah.  The UAE holds about 8% of the world’s natural gas reserves. When Abu Dhabi discovered oil back in 1958, the seven Emirates looked to shift government policy to focus on using their plentiful oil and gas supply to expand and shift their nation towards industrialization.  The manufacturing of oil has been highly sufficient and has driven the UAE’s economy through the late 20th century into the 21st.


The shift in Dubai, one of the UAE’s booming and wealthiest Emirates from 1973 to 2006.


Dubai from 2000 to 2011

The UAE, throughout all seven emirates, has a population density of 282 people per square mile as of 2014.  About 86% of citizens live within an urban settlement. There was not a significant transition or migration of naturalized citizens into the urban areas once the industrial process began.  Many of the people had already lived within the region where construction began.  However, many non-nationals and expatriates have moved and relocated within the urban settlements, most commonly Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.  Research conducted in 2015 found that only 1% of their some 9.5 million inhabitants, were over the age of 65. The same study found that the youth amassed up to nearly 21% of the population.  The UAE’s population has been primarily centralized within the urban areas.

On a comparative scale, the UAE has found unmatched success in the construction rates of buildings and projects.  Buildings go up in unheard time frames, all roads across the UAE are paved, while flamboyant and excessive projects are composed and constructed constantly.  There are a few questions that must be asked. How does the UAE manage to do this? Who does the work? Where are the supplies coming from? And how long can this last?  The workforce in the UAE is fundamentally made up of expatriates, as almost 90% of workers are not naturalized citizens.  Most of these are from Asian countries, like India and Pakistan, and make up 37% of the total population.  Almost all of these workers, roughly 73%, find work within the service sector. UAE citizens only make up about 20% of the country’s population and very few of them work.  Almost all others living within the country are immigrants.  The rate of infrastructure can partially be explained by the large workforce, but the UAE also implements relatively low and unrestricted building regulations.  

Expatriots walking in Dubai

A serious concern for the UAE and their constant construction is their use of water, supplies and labor.  Those living in rural areas all have access to clean water while only 99.6% of urban residents do.  The UAE uses a lot of water, totaling 1.0 cu mi per year. Almost all water used goes to agriculture, while only 2% is used for industrial purposes, which is low considering the large amount of infrastructure. The country uses many native supplies coming from its vast array of desert. The main imports of the UAE are machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, and food.  When it comes down to it, water and supplies are not a major concern for the future. What must change is the use of intensive labor within the workforce. There have been some comparisons to the treatment of expatriate workers to those of concentration camps during the Holocaust.  

Regardless of future concerns and relatively low current implications, the UAE continues to plan their expansion across all seven Emirates.  The UAE is a very popular tourist destination, and has become a world leader in many categories, such as luxury airlines, shopping outlets and malls, and many, many more.  It is crucial that the UAE revisits parts of its current plan to expand, but in the long-run, the UAE will serve the world in many ways within the future.

Guerrilla to Government: Who are the Houthis?


– gov·ern·ment



  1. the governing body of a nation, state, or community.

The cornerstone of any government is protecting its citizens. Ideally, these roles are to provide protection for its citizens, to enforce law and order, to form tactical alliances with other governing groups, to maintain peace, to protect the integrity of their borders and to train and initiate uniformed enforcers. In many ways the Yemeni Houthi rebel group has assumed the role in Western Yemen of a government, taking on duties similar to those necessary for a government to carry out. In Yemen’s capital Sana’a, what were once immaculate government buildings are now canvases for the Houthi slogan, “God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam”.

The Houthis’ roots can be traced back to a summer education program promoting heritage to Zaydi youth, particularly in northern Yemen, where Salafist Sunni Islam was growing in popularity. During this time, some Zaydis believed that they were being ignored or shut out of Yemeni government and culture, and became activists associated with opposition to the ruling government. One particular activist, who served as a Member of Parliament but later quit to concentrate on his of-the-people efforts, was Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi.

The core of the Houthi rebel success is found within their successful challenge to the Yemeni government. The notorious outpouring of anti-government uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, known to many as the Arab Spring, reached Yemen in 2011. In the forefront of these uprisings stood the Houthi rebels. In attempts to quell the national unrest, then President Ali Abdullah, facing mass protests against his autocratic regime, announced that he would step down to allow for new elections. With government forces otherwise occupied, the Houthis took full control of the city of Sana’a. Soon the Houthis proved themselves victorious in a mission to control northern Yemen against Sunni Islamist militants. Once Saleh left office to be replaced by his vice president, Hadi, the Houthis controlled the Saada and al-Jawf governorates. In 2015, the Houthi rebels kidnapped President Hadi’s chief of Staff and Prime Minister Bahah’s motorcade. They continued to take control of the president’s residence – keeping Hadi under house arrest. Both the president and prime minister agreed to resign in order to permit the formation of a new government with al-Houthi as head. The Yemeni government has been highly criticized for the way it handled that conflict which only furthers the amount of support for the rebels. In the last decade, the Yemeni government has launched a total of six wars against the Houthis prompted by the fear of what seems to be their inevitable control.

One of the Houthis main goals is to reinstate a 1,000 year period of monarchic rule that was led by the descendants of the prophet Muhammed who were members of Zaydi. This was called the Imamate. It has become clear that The Houthis aims in Sana’a are merely political and do not involve any military action. Al-Houthi wanted to establish a self-sufficient economic system to sustain his followers and force the government to give into the Houthi demands. Since Yemen is underdeveloped, these measures have implied a very clear improvement in standard living. But today, Yemen is in ruins. Saudi Arabia launched a military intervention in 2015 in order to influence the outcome of the Yemeni civil war in favor of the government of President Hadi.

The Houthis have taken measures to spread their ideologies by actively convincing children that if they fight Saudi Arabia, they are fighting America and Israel. In order to maintain influence of Yemeni people, 15 newspapers, and 19 public and private T.V. channels have been shut down in a manner similar to other oppressive governments. The Houthis have begun to form political alliances and coalitions for tactical reasons. In January, the Houthis joined in a coalition with the Baath party and the Union of Popular Forces against al Islah Islamist party although Al-Houthi and Imad have assured that this party does not represent them. The Houthis believe that the main source of law in Yemen should be Sharia. In order enforce the Houthi agenda and the Sharia law on the government, they have established a “revolutionary committee” which remains a low profile group.

It is indisputable that the Houthis fit the definition of a government having evolved from a guerilla gang into a governing body of a community. Given the Houthis strides and victories of enforcing their agenda and maintaining significant control, the Houthis have not only acted as a government, but defeated one.


MS-13: From Gang to Government

Mara Salvatrucha, known as MS-13, first began as a youth gang in Los Angeles in the 1980s and was made up of immigrants from El Salvador escaping the civil war. However, as gang violence increased, the 1996 immigration law sent thousands of MS-13 members back to El Salvador. In search of safety and acceptance, the members stayed together and their power grew rapidly as they took advantage of the weak governments in the northern triangle. As MS-13 expanded their territory they began to search for forms of income, entering the business of drug, gun, and even human smuggling. Bringing people into the U.S. illegally quickened the expansion of their territory and made it even harder for law enforcement to control the crimes. Currently, MS-13 is prevalent in at least 42 states but, it still remains the most influential and destructive in El Salvador.
In the past two years, it’s clear MS-13 has taken a dramatic shift in its leadership style and local influence. Previously, MS-13 had been playing a minor role in the drug trade and focusing primarily on gang rivalries but, as they become increasingly more independent their impact has changed. MS-13 acts now as hired hitmen for cartels and have begun selling larger amounts of cocaine in their local territories. This increase in territory and power has led MS-13 to the realization of the potential in their political influence.
MS-13 has recently started collecting money from local businesses and services for protection money. They focus mainly on collecting from bus services, and as they expand the number of buses they exploit their territory also expands. The lucrative part about this business is that the bus drivers also receive extensive government subsidies.
Another key factor leading to this realization of MS-13’s newfound political influence was the truce between gangs in El Salvador and the concessions granted by Salvadoran government-sanctioned negotiators in 2012. Anonymous leaders within MS-13 state that after this truce many have been approached by several political figures who are offering support for laws in exchange for votes in the gang controlled territories. These actions are furthering the political corruption in El-Salvador and increasing MS-13’s role in the weakened government.

Iran’s Guardians Are Not Quite Angels…

The IRGC or “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards” was formally created by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on December 4, 1979 following the end of the Iranian Revolution. Khomeini, a Shia Muslim and leader of the Iranian Revolution thereafter became the Supreme Leader of Iran. Khomeini established the IRGC to counter the regular military in order to prevent a potential coup. Khomeini did not trust Iran’s military, and thus the IRGC was created to contend for influence. The commanders of the IRGC were advised by Khomeini, who became Iran’s top decision maker. The statute of the IRGC, created by a group of Guards and ratified by the Council of the Revolution, which was considered the “de facto highest governing body” at the time, provided the initial legal framework for IRGC actions. The group was founded on the basis that it would defend the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats. The Guards specifically quashed any and all budding opposition to Khomeini’s vision.

The IRGC was initially considered a “people’s army,” like the United States National Guard, but over time, the group gained power far beyond its original basis. Currently, the IRGC oversees the entire power structure of Iran and has influence over most parts of Iranian life. The Guards are better supplied than the regular army, boasting superior weaponry and nuclear potential. The IRGC’s superiority has created a fear in the regular army and ultimately they are inferior and powerless against the IRGC. IRGC force is made up of about 150,000 men divided into land, sea and air forces. The group also has authority over the ministry of intelligence in Iran.

Despite Khomeini’s last will in 1988 testament, which asked that the military forces stay out of politics, the IRGC has infiltrated the government. The IRGC role in Iranian politics has been ruthlessly debated for years. While reformists believe Khomeini clearly forbid the Guards from having involvement in politics, specifying that the Guards’ sole purpose was to defend the regime, supporters of the politicized Guards believe they are more than a military organization, but a political and ideological force. According to Mehdi Khalaji, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the IRGC is “the spine of the current political structure [in Iran] and a major player in the Iranian economy.”

In an interview for Deutsche Welle, a German news channel, Bahman Nirumand, an Iranian political analyst, publicist and author stated that he believes the IRGC can be described as the true rulers of Iran, since their missions and powers have extended so immensely. He further states that Iran has never seen such a concentration of power as the IRGC is the sovereign authority in Iran, politically, economically and militarily. Former IRGC commanders have taken numerous governmental positions, cementing the IRGC influence into the Iranian political sphere.

When asked if the IRGC has experienced the same increase in power in the economy, mutating into an economic giant. Nirumand states that they are by far the largest economic power in Iran. They have control over the ports and airports which gives them power over imports, exports and the black market. The IRGC maintains powerful holds on the military, industrial, and financial spheres, while also expanding its power into the underground economy. Their role in the underground economy has led to a designation as a mafia-like cartel. Their economic influence does not depend on a single person or central administration, but a far-reaching web of contributors. The underground economy in Iran has flourished under the weak rule of law. According to an IMF study, Iran’s underground economy has a value of about $140 billion. As Iran’s main smuggler with control of the sea, air and land border, the IRGC gains a substantial amount of money from illegal trade. The underground economy remains a very valuable asset for the IRGC. The income allows for the IRGC to be financially dependent from Iran’s government. It also allows for the IRGC to have complete control of Iran’s gangs and underground culture.

Nirumand states that there isn’t anywhere that the IRGC lacks influence. They hold many important government positions, and have a strong network of up and comers. The IRGC may be the most well equipped a sophisticated group of the time, with the will and ability to build a worldwide network. Mohsen Sazegara, a founding member of the IRGC and now a U.S.-based dissident, stated that “I don’t know of any other organization in any country like the Revolutionary Guards,” comparing the Guards to the Communist Party, KGB, a business complex, and the Mafia.

While initially the Islamic Republic was based on the alliance between the government and Revolutionary Guards in which the government ruled the country and the Guards protected the republic, the dynamic has shifted with the Guards ruling both areas. While some analysts believe the increase in IRGC influence has set up the IRGC to challenge the Iranian government others believe that the acrimony and competition within the IRGC ranks will deter the IRGC from taking such control. Either way, with the current pace of IRGC growth, the group may solidify its role as the leading governing power within the Iran.

Is El Sisi to Much of a Sissy to Embrace Democracy?

In the past few years Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt’s president, has faced the largest opposition since his election in May 2014. The opposition has been sparked by a failed counterterrorism strategy and a sale of land to Saudi Arabia for cash. How he’s handling it provides a concerning answer for many Egyptians. His authoritarian approach is beginning to draw many similarities with Mubarak’s Egypt in the 2000s, full of corruption and disparities.
El-Sisi’s rise to power began in 2012 when he was appointed to commander-in-chief in the armed forces by then President Morsi, but when widespread protests occurred against Morsi in 2013, Sisi declared Morsi had 48 hours to meet the demand of the people. Morsi however, did not meet the demand and Egypt’s military removed him from power. It was then that El-Sisi was sworn-in as deputy prime minister and later won the election with 96% of the vote.
On Palm Sunday 2017 an attack on a church killing 45 people raised questions about El-Sisi’s commitment to fighting terrorism. El-Sisi’s motivation behind his counterterrorism strategy goes far beyond its intention. He uses it to silence his enemies of which include, activists, journalists, human rights organizations, and businessmen who oppose him. A three month national emergency law simply acts as a cover for brutal practices against the opposition forces. This exploitation of the recent attacks not only fuels the advancement of his political agenda but incites terrorism.
Khalid Ali has become a key figure of opposition of El-Sisi’s actions. Ali ran against El-Sisi during 2012 election, but in May he was detained after suggestions he would run again in the 2018 election. If Ali is convicted he would be unable to run, eliminating El-Sisi’s worry of once again defending the controversial island transfer with Saudi Arabia. The islands were crucial for Egypt to defend the Gulf of Aqaba and almost half of Egyptians say the islands belonged to Egypt. Ali’s was among dozens who have protested against the government, and the charges on which many were detained proved risible. El-Sisi’s motives clearly point toward his desire to win the next election in authoritarian manner.
So, is there anyone who is supporting El-Sisi’s efforts? President Donald Trump of the U.S states, “that we are very much behind President al-Sisi”. Trump has also praised the ways in which he has taken control over the country. This backing creates a real problem. El-Sisi sees this as permission to continue the suppression of dissent. In return, El-Sisi expressed his admiration of Trump’s personality and subtly criticised the departed Obama administration, since this had been his first visit since his election.
In addition to targeting activists and dissidents, El-Sisi has begun cracking down on NGOs and websites. In June the government shut down several independent news websites in an attempt to regulate the amount of opposition being circulated in the media. For NGOs, El-Sisi now has the final say of what NGOs do and how they are funded. The government claims the organizations are “destabilizing national unity”. This raises concerns not only about his secret agenda, but now victims of human rights violations are no longer getting the help or representation they need.
As El-Sisi continues to restrict the freedoms of Egyptian citizens, motivated by Trump’s support and his own political agenda, his ulterior motives behind all his actions become increasingly clear. He has fallen into the same authoritarian leadership of the dictator Mubarak who the Egyptian people overthrew in the first place.

You say “Hezbollah,” I say “Nasrallah.”

Donning his black turban, a subtle reminder that he is a descendant of Muhammad, Hassan Nasrallah reassures the Lebanese people after political events through televised speeches. Upon first glance you would assume Nasrallah is the President or Prime Minister of Lebanon; in actuality however, he is the Secretary General of Hezbollah, a Shia terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel. Nasrallah holds official veto power in the government, as well as control of a powerful Shia militia, Hezbollah has substantial representation in Parliament, and he has an incredible 97% approval rating among Shiites. His ability, as a semi-authoritarian terrorist leader, to gain so much political leverage in the Lebanese government is partially attributed to his history of making military and political decisions that benefit Lebanon, as well as his social reforms and regular communication with the people, creating a extremely loyal following.
Nasrallah has a history of taking action, he was able to build a militia stronger than the Lebanese army by training grass-root fighters and inspiring them with religion. In 2000, he was credited with Israel leaving southern Lebanon and gained even more popularity after negotiating a prisoner exchange that released 400 Lebanese prisoners from Israel. In 2006, he was viewed as the leader of the war with Israel which became a matter of pride among the Lebanese, especially their refusal to surrender arms. Nasrallah’s popularity also increased as he personally oversaw to rebuilding of destroyed homes. In 2008, Nasrallah was even able to stage a takeover of rival party headquarters in Beirut further demonstrating his power.
Another aspect that has greatly contributed to his popularity is his welfare programs, many of which the Lebanese government has failed to provide. Nasrallah has set up successful schools, hospitals, and even sports groups. These facilitates are usually only open to Shiites or members of Hezbollah, which works to create strong bonds of loyalty. If people are not able to receive education or healthcare anywhere else they are unlikely to turn against Nasrallah.
Nasrallah also is known for regularly communicating with his people through televised speeches. The delivery of the speeches themselves are confident yet sincere sometimes even incorporating humor which is rare among religious figures but makes him more approachable. Nasrallah gives his speeches in Classical Arabic with a Lebanese dialect so he can reach more people. He has recently given a range of speeches including one after Saad Hariri’s resignation, where he in a very paternal nature promised to try to keep Lebanon safe and stable, skillfully trying to limit fear but alerting the people to the possibility of Saudi Arabian meddling. He also made a speech in October defending Hezbollah after US sanctions and criticism over their strong ties with Iran, and current fighting in Syria but he made sure to focus on the sacrifice especially parents are making allowing their children to go to war. Nasrallah himself lost a son to Israeli forces, and this personal sacrifice is viewed very favorably among Lebanese citizens, as is a rule he has set in place among his Shia militia that parents with only one child have a choice to send them to war. Through these speeches Nasrallah has created a possible illusion of transparency, but also of trust as he has a tendency to not make promises he cannot keep which has helped him in the long run.

Netanyahu: Really Representing the ‘Jewish People’?

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, top priority since he retook office in March of 2009, has been Israel’s security. During his time in office he has proven to have gained authoritative power with such policies like his anti-media populism. Although he is a leader tainted by corruption allegations, he claims to have Israel’s best interest in mind, having continual support due to the omnipresent threats in the surrounding area.

Although Mr. Netanyahu has claimed his main focus to be representing the Jewish population, concerned about their safety while fighting to protect the land that he believes to be rightfully Israel’s, he has exerted authoritative power over the news industry in Israel, shutting down news outlets to better his own image. Recently a political cartoon of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surfaced showing him stretched out on a psychologist’s couch and clutching TV sets, radios and newspapers to his chest. According to the Washington Post, this cartoon clearly represents what Israelis think about Netanyahu’s fantastical obsession with the media, as he tries to weaken and control Israel’s small news industry. Netanyahu has made accusations of “fake news”, ultimately believing that the news outlets in Israel are trying to expose him and the scandals surrounding him as well as attempting to shed a negative light on him. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog believes “this is a blow to the most important part of democracy-the news,”
Recently the prime minister has been surrounded by a series of scandals which police have called Case 1000 and Case 2000. Despite the accusations, ongoing investigation, and the witness statement that was made by Ari Harow, the prime minister’s chief of staff, Mr. Netanyahu has vehemently denied any wrongdoings, worrying more about his image and political stability than the indictment he may face, Mr. Netanyahu stands accused of allegedly offering a newspaper owner commercial favours in return for positive coverage of him. He has also been accused of failing to disclose his ties to key actors in a merger deal involving the state telecommunications company, Bezeq. Although Mr. Netanyahu has been called “the magician” for surviving in high positions for so many years he has negated rivals from right and left and recently experienced a decrease in popularity on the streets, an obstacle that may stand in the way of him securing a fifth term. He is dependent on the far right and is so politically vulnerable that he is making decisions that can possibly put his entire country at risk.
On October 29, 2017 the Israeli Prime Minister used his power to delay the vote on the ‘Greater Jerusalem’ law that would expand the municipal borders of Jerusalem without annexing this new land. The law would cause a significant increase in the Jewish Israeli population, but has used his ministerial power to delay the vote in order to hold diplomatic preparations with the American government. Determined “to fight Iran’s terrorism, [and] prevent it from establishing itself near [Israel’s] border,” he said in a speech to honor the victims of the two bombings of Jewish communities, by Iran, in Argentina in 1992 and 1994, Netanyahu has used his political power to help influence and urge other world powers to either renegotiate or pull out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. He has also commented to President Putin that “with joint efforts we are defeating Islamic State, and this is a very important thing. But the bad thing is that where the defeated Islamic State group vanishes, Iran is stepping in.” Netanyahu has also used his power to thwart the Palestinian peace reconciliation, telling the Palestinians that they will not accept a “bogus” deal, but may consider accepting it if Hamas recognizes Israel, gives up its armed force, and cuts ties with Iran. With no further negotiations being made, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, with Mr. Netanyahu not making any changes to his terms.

Despite publicly claiming to be a democratic leader of the people, recent events have caused Israelis and others to wonder if Prime Minister Netanyahu is beginning to take on more authoritative power, claiming that he is trying to represent Israel and keeping Israel’s best interests in mind.