Posts Tagged

Arab Spring

The Arab world shocked us twice in recent months, once with the eruption of the revolutionary spring, and again with the sweeping to power of Islamist parties. The revolutions have radically shifted the political map of the region and transformed the world’s perception of its politics, and even transformed the world. But the equally unanticipated, and very decisive, ascendancy of the Islamists, from Morocco to Kuwait, has confused many observers. Already some are repeating the old adage, voiced most provocatively by Elie Kedourie in 1992, that the Arabs do not comprehend, let alone desire or deserve democracy. It is interesting that Kedourie was responding to the results of an opinion poll which showed that the majority of Egyptians supported democracy, …

At the end of the 19th Century, Lord Curzon, the then British Viceroy of India, described Iran and its Arab neighbours as “pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for the domination of the world”. The geostrategic importance of the Middle East, with its immense oil wealth, has shaped the policies of colonial empires, secured the longevity of autocratic regimes and given rise to religious elites. The ‘game of chess’, as described by Lord Curzon, promises great riches and influence for the players involved, but has often come at a huge cost for the majority of the Arab people. Indeed, oil wealth, so narrowly shared between the region’s ruling minorities, has historically presented a barrier …