Showing posts with label Arab Spring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arab Spring. Show all posts

March 9, 2014

Worried for their own security, the rulers of Saudi Arabia expand their own list of “terror organizations” and criminalize dissent

    Sunday, March 09, 2014   No comments

8 years in prison for tweeting
in support of a demonstration
Days after recalling its top diplomats from Qatar, Saudi Arabia published a list of organizations and activities that are deemed criminal and prohibited Saudi citizens and residents from joining or supporting such organizations. The two events might appear to be unrelated. In reality, the latter decision provides the proper context for understanding the former. Moreover, the list and the logic that produced it are intriguing. Here is a summary of the key points of this document followed by a short analysis.

March 1, 2014

The Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi, Sisi, and the future of Egypt

    Saturday, March 01, 2014   No comments
A. F. al-Sisi
by Jared Ethan Krauss 
IN a move that surprised everyone not in Sisi’s circle, the cabinet has resigned.
The move comes as, in recent weeks, criticism and protests of the interim government have grown.  Egypt has seen no economic improvements since the revolution, and violence has only increased since the ouster of Morsi. While the fervor whipped up by Sisi just after the coup—where he was seemingly given permission by Egyptians to ‘fight terrorism’—was enough to sustain popular support the first few weeks or months, it was not enough to do away with the harsh realities of life for many Egyptians.  

February 25, 2014

Lack of real representation of Syrians doomed the Geneva meetings

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014   No comments

Two rounds of indirect talks between representatives of the Syrian government and some representatives of the Syrian Coalition have failed to launch a political dialogue to end the deadly crisis in Syria, now entering its fourth year. The failure was expected. Members of the opposition forces did not represent even the Coalition, many of whose members resigned before the meetings. Other opposition groups were excluded due to Western insistence that all opposition negotiators must come to the meeting under the leadership of the Coalition. That rendered the meetings meaningless. Moreover, the Coalition’s exertion of a veto over Iran’s participation while inviting Saudi Arabia--the main backer of the armed groups--killed all hope for ending the bloody conflict.

The so-called “Friends of Syria” are united in their dislike to the Syrian government and their desire to overthrow Assad. They are not united by their care for the Syrian people. That reality is evident from their financial and military support for armed groups when compared to their reluctance to admit Syrian refugees. The most ardent supporters of the armed factions in Syria have provided no significant support for refugees and admitted none. When they met early this year (January 14) in Kuwait, Western and Arab countries pledged only $2.4 billion to help Syrian refugees, by February 20, only 12% of that money actually came through. Countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who spent nearly $8 billion on arming and supporting the rebels, pledged just $60 million in humanitarian aid and they took in no refugees.

February 19, 2014

What President Obama should tell the Saudi rulers?

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014   No comments

President Obama
On the same day when Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree criminalizing Saudi citizens’ participation in the war in Syria (or joining Jihadi groups), the White House confirmed that President Obama will be visiting the Kingdom in March. It seems a reasonable assumption that during this v­isit, Obama will attempt to synchronize U.S. and Saudi diplomacy over two key issues: the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, and the crisis in Syria. 

The agenda of the meeting in Riyadh could in fact be reduced to a single conversation about Iran, since Iran is also a key ally of the Syrian government. Rather than focusing on these issues, however, the President should focus on convincing the Saudi rulers to abandon their reliance on violent sectarian warriors to exert influence in the region and around the world, especially their support of religious zealots attempting to overthrow governments the Saudis don’t like. 

February 8, 2014

How different are the new constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt?

    Saturday, February 08, 2014   No comments

How different are the new constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt?

The two countries transformed first by the Arab Spring now have new constitutions. The two countries are similar in many ways. Yet, the processes of producing their respective constitutions and the substance of each document point to the forces that made these legal documents similar in some areas and different in others. In both cases, it took more than two years to reach this point, underscoring the difficulty the drafters of the two documents have faced.

Notably, the Tunisian constitution was drafted by an elected body (Constitutional Assembly), whereas the current version of the Egyptian constitution was “edited” by an appointed committee after the deposition of the post-revolution (elected) president Mohamed Morsi. The Egyptian constitution, however, was endorsed by Egyptian voters, while the Tunisian constitution was adopted once it was endorsed by the majority of the members of the Constitutional Assembly.

January 14, 2014

Tunisia’s Ennahda movement, perhaps learning from the crises of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and AKP in Turkey, compromises to remain relevant

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014   No comments

On January 14, Tunisians will celebrate their revolution, which ignited a wave of protest that swept most of the Arab world. For this third anniversary, the Salvation Front, representing key leaders from political parties and civil society, gave the Tunisian people and the Arab masses a set of rare gifts: another peaceful transfer of power, a new constitution that protects the life and dignity of all Tunisians, and roadmap to a stable future.

January 9, 2014

Syria’s rebels’ premature harvest and the moral crisis of militarism

    Thursday, January 09, 2014   No comments

ISIS fighters executing a civilian

On November 14, 2013, Abd al-Kader al-Saleh, commander of the powerful Tawhid Brigades, died. He was injured in an earlier airstrike that killed several of his group’s top leaders. In a matter of days, al-Tawhid Brigades—one of the armed wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria—descended into chaos. Its surviving leaders claimed that the Syrian army could not have carried out the deadly strike without inside help. They promised to avenge their leaders and purge the rebels of anti-revolution elements. At that moment, the seed of dissent among Islamist groups sprouted. 

December 12, 2013

The disintegration of Syria’s so-called “moderate” opposition forces and the prospects of a divided Syria

    Thursday, December 12, 2013   No comments

Future of Syria: not bringing this crisis under control now
could divide Syria along ethnic and sectarian fault lines.
Since 2012, many observers and scholars familiar with the Syrian crisis have advised against arming Syrian rebels and warned about the risks of turning that country into a powder keg, endangering peace in that volatile region. Those early predictions are now a reality. Reacting to recent developments, U.S. and British officials announced that they are suspending delivery of aid to Syrian rebels when the Free Syrian Army’s depots were overrun by al-Qaeda affiliates. Video footage shows that the Free Syrian Army had actually received more than “non-lethal aid.” Rebels fighters claims that they found anti-aircraft weapons, sophisticated guns, and munitions. 

December 3, 2013

Text of constitutional amendments: First three parts (articles 1-83) of Egypt's constitutional amendments adopted by the 50-member committee

    Tuesday, December 03, 2013   No comments

Part 1: The state

Article 1

The Arab Republic of Egypt is a sovereign state, united, indivisible and inalienable. Its governance system is democratic and based on citizenship and the rule of law.

The Egyptian people are part of the Arab world, work toward its integration and unification. Egypt is a part of the Islamic world, belongs to the African continent, proud of its Asian reach and participates in the building of human civilization.

August 25, 2013

A fragile alliance: how the crisis in Egypt caused a rift within the anti-Syrian government block

    Sunday, August 25, 2013   No comments

 A fragile alliance: how the crisis in Egypt caused a rift within the anti-Syrian government block
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate (UAE), Turkey, and the West condemned in unison the Syrian government for its harsh treatment of Syrians from the first day of the uprising in that country. Many observers were skeptical of the stated reasons for this sudden interest in human rights issues given that the Gulf States are in fact models of repressive governance. As the reaction to the Egyptian crisis revealed, the opposition to the Syrian government was not motivated by the stated goals (support for democracy and condemnation for authoritarianism). It was dictated by narrow political, ideological, and sectarian interests.

July 25, 2013

Why did the Salafi Party in Egypt support the removal of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood?

    Thursday, July 25, 2013   No comments

Balancing political interests and religious idealism in Islamic Societies

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Alarabiya channel cheered the ouster of Morsi and the Brotherhood
Many analysts and observers of Middle Eastern affairs were surprised when the Salafi political party, al-Nour, supported the protest movement and the military that ousted Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power. Some tried to explain it by highlighting the fundamental ideological differences between Salafi and non-Salafi Islamism. Others contended that what the Salafi have done was dictated by political acumen. Salafi leaders wanted to position al-Nour party and the Salafi movement as the heirs of the Brotherhood. The failure of the Muslim Brotherhood to govern and to include others in the process was also posited as a reason for the rift between the Salafis and the Brotherhood.

In my view, leaders of the Salafist political party abandoned Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood because their patrons, Saudi Arabia and UAE, wanted them to do so.

July 19, 2013

Majority, including supporters of National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, want a negotiated solution to the Syrian crisis

    Friday, July 19, 2013   No comments

The Coalition will either negotiate with the regime or it will become irrelevant

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
Responding to a non-scientific poll posted on the website of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (the Coalition), 66.2% of the respondents wanted the group to attend the Geneva-2 conference. In fact, 33.6% of the respondents wanted the Coalition to attend without any conditions. Only 30.8% thought that the Coalition should not negotiate. That sentiment reflects a non-scientific vote that ran on a website that is likely to be frequented by sympathizers with the Coalition. It is likely that if a similar poll surveyed people inside Syria, even more respondents would want the regime and the opposition groups to sit down and negotiate a political solution to the crisis. With that in mind, it is bewildering that leaders of the Coalition, including the new president, Ahmed Bin Awinen Asi AlJarba, have refused to enter into negotiations with the Syrian government.

July 17, 2013

The role of the military and the rulers of the Gulf States in stabilizing or de-stabilizing Egypt

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013   No comments
by Henelito A. Sevilla Jr*

The ouster of the first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammad Morsi, puzzled many analysts and made it hard to predict the future of Egypt. People from the beginning of the revolution have been asking for economic and political reform. Instead, Morsi’s government first step was to amend the constitution, giving himself more power. These conflicting priorities gave rise to massive demonstrations across the country.

July 16, 2013

Al-Qaidah affiliated groups’ preemptive plans: kill the FSA leaders, confiscate their arms, and declare an independent Islamic state in northern Syria

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013   No comments
Nusra fighters transporting weapons in Syria, Monday.
By Fawzi Najm*

In a series of gruesome acts designed to be a show of force and to intimidate opponents, Islamist fighters affiliated with al-Qaidah have slaughtered rebel leaders belonging to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and confiscated their large cache of weapons.

Parts of a plan to take over northern Syria were revealed early this week by sources from the FSA to the pan-Arab newspaper, al-sharq al-awsat. It reported on Tuesday that al-Qaidah plans to cleanse northern Syria of FSA rebels and take control of all crossings with Turkey and then declare an Islamic state in northern Syria on the first day of festivities after Ramadan ends.

Between the two camps, Egypt's media outlets have chosen to take sides in the ongoing tragic split

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013   No comments
by Ahmed Magdy Youssef*
Egypt's last two weeks’ incessant events not only gripped the minds and hearts of the Egyptians, but they captured the interest of the national and international media as well.

For many Egyptians, mostly those who filled public squares across the country to demand Mr. Morsi's removal and early presidential elections, the military's intervention on July 3 was inevitable to save the most heavily populated Arab country from slipping into a civil war.

July 15, 2013

International leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood meet in Turkey to strategize for the crisis in Egypt and to plan for the future

    Monday, July 15, 2013   No comments

Middle East Politics Reshuffle: The Future of Islam in the public sphere

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Ghannouchi to take a major role in Muslim Brotherhood International
The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s government in Egypt on July 3rd, 2013 forced the group’s international leaders to rethink the movements options. This weekend, they gathered in Turkey. The meetings were closed to the public. The limited information that leaked out suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood International is not about to change its overall strategy or replace its aging leaders. Instead, they embraced the old guard again, in a sign that they are not about to look to the youth to transition to the new century. They elected Rached Ghannouchi, who presided over the Tunisian Islamist movement for over 32 years, to lead the political bureau. Looking forward, the movement’s leaders seem interested in limiting the damage of their fall in Egypt, not in renewing its thinking. There is no indication that they are looking at the Arab Spring in its proper context.

July 6, 2013

Arab Spring 2.0: Why did Morsi lose the presidency and how did the Muslim Brotherhood lose a revolution?

    Saturday, July 06, 2013   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Gruesome killings of Egyptian Shi`as contributed to Morsi's fall
Many Arabs, thirsty for real change, look at the events of the Arab Spring positively. Liberal, secular, conservative, and ultraconservative groups and individuals in the countries transformed by the Arab Spring who supported the overthrow of the old guard agree that these revolutions were necessary. They disagree on the post-revolution arrangement. The Arab Spring 2.0 that took place in Egypt on June 30th is a good example of the disagreement between former rebels about the future of the new Arab World. Analysts and observers of Middle East affairs are trying to make sense out of something that does not operate according to common sense. All that can be done is a sound analysis of the events and an objective account of the facts. I have received several inquiries for comments about the events in Egypt. A summary of these comments might provide some legal and historical context.

June 30, 2013

Narratives of War in Islamic Societies

    Sunday, June 30, 2013   No comments

Whose side is God on?
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
Abstract: The so-called Arab Spring ushered in a new era of conflict that is transforming Islamic societies in unprecedented ways. In the past two years, peaceful protests ousted some of the most ruthless dictators of the Arab world. Then, violent rebellions destroyed communities in Libya and Syria, stifled the non-violent movement, and amplified sectarian tensions by interjecting God into some of the most gruesome conflicts. By looking at the Syrian crisis as a case study, in this article I explore the function of narratives in managing war and the nature and evolution of Islamism in Islamic societies.

Those who think that the Syrian war could be ended by simply sending either side more weapons and more fighters are mistaken. Weapons are only tools of the battlefield. Now, as is has been throughout the history of war, the more important key to winning a war is developing a compelling narrative.
Over the past two years, each of the parties involved in the Syrian conflict has promulgated a different narrative to justify the war. 

June 26, 2013

Why did the ruler of Qatar cede power now?

    Wednesday, June 26, 2013   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Not all observers of Middle East affairs should be surprised by the handover of “Emirship” in Qatar. Although it is refreshing to see an Arab ruler step aside without an act of God (death), a coup, or a Spring. According to Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the transfer is a natural step: “The time has come to open a new page in the journey of our nation that would have a new generation carry the responsibilities ... with their innovative ideas." If the 61-year old Emir were interested in democracy (which the Emir wished for the rest of the Arab world, but not his own country), he could have found a more skilled and experienced leader other than his 33-year young son. Therefore, other compelling reasons must have forced this shrewd politician and ambitious operator to step aside now. 

June 2, 2013

A Turkish Spring even if different from the Arab Spring

    Sunday, June 02, 2013   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The wide-spreading protest movement in Turkey is bringing up the irresistible analogy: Taksim Square is for Turkey what Tahrir Square is for Egypt. Considering that Tahrir Square events were the extension of the protest movement that started it all from Tunisia, it follows that the turmoil in Turkey is similar to the so-called Arab Spring. But most observers and media analysts are dismissing Taksim Square movement arguing that Turkey’s uprising is not similar to the Arab Spring because Erdoğan and his party are democratically elected and that Erdoğan has governed over a period of unprecedented economic prosperity.

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