Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The controversial rule that benefited the Justice and Development Party now diminishes its chances to quickly form a government



Turkey’s democracy has had many pitfalls since the early days of the modern republic. The ruling elite, initially from the military and recently from the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), have tweaked the rules of the game to exclude others and preserve their stay in power. Since 2002, Turkey’s powerful AKP politicians benefited from the rule that required political parties to win at least 10% of the votes to send representative to the parliament. Kurdish politicians, especially, were marginalized forcing them to compete for elections only as independents, increasing the chances of the more powerful parties, in this case the AKP, to artificially inflate their share of seats. If the 10% rule were not in place, and more political parties were represented this time around, AKP would have an easier time finding a coalition partner that had won just 17 seats--not 80.

For the first time, the pro-Kurdish party known as Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) has surpassed the 10% threshold and will be sending about 81 highly disciplined members to the parliament. This victory is not only good for the Kurdish people, it is also good for Turkish democracy. It deprived the increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from a chance to amend the constitution and give himself more powers. It solidified political pluralism. And it added a voice to minority voices in a political landscape dominated by a single party for nearly two decades.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Will the rulers of Saudi Arabia, and perhaps other GCC, fall and why?





Saudi rulers use war on Yemen to remain relevant
The war on Yemen removed the last fig leaf and exposed the tools and advantages the rulers of Saudi Arabia have used for nearly a century to control its population and project power and influence outside the kingdom’s border. The first tool is the strategic alliance with the United States that shielded it from any criticism in international forums and protected it against foreign threats in return for steady flow of cheap energy. The second tool is a brand of interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, which allowed the rulers to enjoy absolute power over the institutions of the state as long as Wahhabism was allowed to use the instruments of the state to project itself as the purest form of Sunni Islam.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s attempt to create a Sunni-Shia sectarian war hinges on fragile alliances and a retrograde worldview



What is happening in Yemen and why?


In the post-Arab Spring Middle East, the rulers of Saudi Arabia see no place for neutrality. Their default position has become that declared by President Bush after 9/11: You are either with us or against us. Even the winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, Tawakkol Karman, who is also a leading figure in Yemen’s Islah party, flew to Riyadh to join Abd Rabuh Hadi and bless the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Yemen, which killed thus far over 1000 people, including children and women. Indeed, neutrality is not an option when it comes to loss of life, but those who are inviting a foreign country to bomb their own people are siding with aggression.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The rulers of the Gulf States are bent on destroying countries that refuse or escape their influence

Saudi Arabia and Yemen
by Ahmed Souaiaia

During the early days of the so-called Arab Spring, nervous for their own continued rule, the rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by the King of Saudi Arabia, proposed the expansion of the GCC to include Jordan and Morocco—but not Yemen. Yemen shares borders with two GCC member states yet it was excluded from this club of rich Arab countries. Yemen is not a good candidate because, despite poverty and political corruption, its people actually have a genuine desire to move towards representative governance. That is a non-starter for the Guff States. They prefer countries with similar governing tradition: exclusive family or clan rule and no prospects for democratic rule. That is why Jordan and Morocco were good candidates but not Yemen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Saudi and Qatari dilemma: Can they support al-Sisi in his war on ISIL and support ISIL in its war on Assad?


 
GCC
When Prince Salman became King Salman, world leaders wanted to know about the man now controlling the country that exports more oil than any other, Saudi Arabia. Several leading publications claimed that the 79 year old king suffers from serious chronic illnesses. The Economist proposed that his predecessor, King Abdullah, had concerns about handing the crown to Salman because Salman may be suffering from Alzheimer's disease.  The Atlantic, too, reported in 2010 that Salman suffered from dementia. The official reaction of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the intergovernmental organization that is supposed to represent the wealthy Gulf States but actually serves to promote Saudi interests and point of view, to Egypt's claim that Qatar supports terrorism, suggests that the King might be indeed suffering from dementia. The background for this story is as follows:

Friday, February 06, 2015

Slaying, Slaughtering, and Burning: ISIL, the Cinematic Caliphate

By Islam Sakka*
Watching the latest videos posted by the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS, IS), it is easy to see the changes in cinematic technique and the group’s choice of English as the main language. Their latest video, showing Jordanian pilot Moaz Kasasbeh being burned alive, sets a new precedent for brutality, ruthlessness, and high quality propaganda.

Ramallah — Before ISIL, most jihadist videos only documented various kinds of combat operations. The camera was always present to record the battles, to be incorporated in a single tape as part of a detailed report, which was released periodically as part of the counter-propaganda through which the group was trying to compete with the global media.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Where is the Outrage?



Europe’s hypocrisy and latent racism displayed after the Paris attacks


On January 11, 2015, an estimated 1.6 million people walked the streets of Paris as part of a “unity march” in reaction to the recent attack in the French capital. Some 40 world leaders joined the march. Other high-profile individuals also recognized the attack and the march—for instance, George Clooney and other actors referred to the events as they received awards on January 11. “Paris is the capital of the world today,” declared Francois Hollande. 

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