Posts Tagged

Arab Spring

“Our revolution was hijacked,” Mahmoud, a young protestor from Yemen, told me in one of our discussions. “We stand no chance against the established powers in any elections,” said Marwa, another young protestor from Egypt. Mahmoud and Marwa represent millions of similar young Arabs who ignited and led the uprisings in their countries, aspiring for a new future where each one of them will have an equal say in the political process. They are now increasingly disappointed and frustrated with their new reality, and the top reason for their frustration is political finance. The Deepening Democracy report, published by the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy & Security, highlights that “The rise of uncontrolled political finance threatens to hollow out democracy …

The Arab awakening arguably represents the most important transformation of Middle Eastern politics since the end of colonialism. How will the regional powers adjust their foreign policies to the new regional environment is however still extremely uncertain. This uncertainty is partially due to the well-known inability of international relations scholars to make assured predictions, but also to the fact that the dynamics of foreign policy shifts are still widely overlooked and generally misunderstood in the scientific literature. Is ‘foreign policy change’ a mere adaptation to changes taking place in the domestic arena, as argued by most IR liberals? Or is foreign policy behaviour wholly dependent on the international distribution of power, as argued by realists? Or is there room for autonomous decisions that are not only reactions to exogenous sources of change, but are purposive and proactive actions in their own right? The Arab awakening will most likely be a crucial case study to test each of these hypotheses.

We must start first by condemning the violence and killing of diplomats and civilian people. Whatever we may feel, however we may be hurt by the video, it cannot justify in any way the killing of people. Such actions are simply anti-Islamic and against Muslim values. The demonstrations were in fact first organised by a tiny group of Salafi literalists who were attempting to direct popular emotions against the United States and the West in order to gain for themselves a central religious and political role.

Libya’s outgoing Prime Minister, Adurrahim al-Keib, stated recently that “we are seeing the birth of a new Libya that is as beautiful as the waves of the sea.” Yet, given the enormous task of building a new democracy from scratch — and the equally immense economic, ethnic and political problems plaguing the new state — those waves belie turbulent currents.

After suffering decades of repression and forced to go underground, the recent election victory for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has emboldened the movement to spread its influence in a region where mainstream political Islam has for so long been denied. At the same time, this is cause for much anxiety to the remaining despotic Arab regimes, particularly in the oil-rich Gulf. Even prior to the elections it was widely reported that the Saudi’s preferred an Egypt run by the remnants of Mubarak’s regime, such as Ahmed Shafik, than an Islamist candidate.[1] They fear that a brotherhood victory will not only embolden the already problematic Islamist opposition at home but also set the grounds for Egypt reclaiming leadership of the Islamic world, upstaging …

The key fault lines dividing the interim Libyan central government from both the militias and the international community are starkly illustrated in the ongoing saga surrounding the detention of four International Criminal Court (ICC) officials in Libya since June 7th. Among the detainees, Melinda Taylor has received the brunt of media attention, because she is a young and attractive Australian lawyer who was assigned by the ICC to represent the deposed dictator’s son, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi. She is currently being held captive by Zintani militiamen for ‘spying’.  She allegedly possessed a digital pen camera and passed her client encrypted messages from Mohammad Ismael — a former crony of Saif’s, wanted for war crimes. It will likely be impossible for the …

Even the most zealous ideologues have been challenged approaching Damascus. Thrown from their horse, they have been left dazed and partially sighted, forced to re-examine their norms. Damascus has presented such a challenge once again in recent months. This time, it is the new norm in international relations known as R2P—the responsibility to protect—that has been temporarily unseated. It is a simple formula. This important new norm contends that it is the international community’s responsibility to protect civilians when a state fails in its responsibility to do so. R2P has made swift progress in the international community since its adoption (in a watered-down form) at the United Nations Summit in 2005, gaining acceptance at the same time as the rise …

Having toppled a dictator of thirty years in the uprisings of January and February 2011, millions of Egyptians looked ahead to a future of comprehensive change. In May 2012, they faced the disturbing prospect of choosing a new president from a list that included Mubarak’s last prime minister, and foreign minister. When the former, Ahmad Shafik, was allowed to pass through to the second electoral round, waves of nationwide protest decried his candidacy. Yesterday, to the alarm of pro-revolution political forces, the High Constitutional Court dissolved parliament, and legislative powers passed to the ruling military council. Several prominent activists have slammed the entire transitional process, and have been protesting with fellow Egyptians to boycott a poll they dismiss as illegitimate …