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Arab Unrest By Sarfaraz Ahmed

Arab unrest: perspectives-XLIX

Published on November 27, 2013That the US knows that there is a time to stay and fight and a time to cut and run is a strong reality that has found its best expression in the landmark Iran nuclear deal at the weekend. This appears to be an embittered Saudi Arabia's take on the situation as the deal has immensely brightened its principal rival Iran's economic and political prospects. The kingdom is now faced with a situation that is largely characterised by a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that has resulted from this profoundly significant development.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives-XLVIII

Published on March 19, 2013A state of extreme confusion, agitation, commotion and tumult in Egypt is giving birth to some legitimate fears about its direction after Mubarak. Are the present events in Egypt a step forward for its people? Is Egypt heading for a rigid winter after an Arab Spring?-Arab unrest: perspectives-XLVII (Business Recorder, November 28, 2011).Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XLVII

Published on November 28, 2011A peep into history through Wikipedia and other sources, including the works of historians Michael Burleigh and Benny Morris, gives one some interesting and amazing facts to analyze the current situation in Egypt from a different perspective:Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XLVI

Published on November 18, 2011"[B]ashar should learn from the examples provided by Jordan, Turkey, and even Morocco, in which Islamist parties were integrated into the system through elections, turning out to be much more pragmatic than many had anticipated. He should also avoid the Algerian example...This will not be easy, for he was primarily brought in as his father's successor first and foremost to maintain Alawite supremacy in the governing structures of the state, particularly in the military-security apparatus. In other words, true democratic reform would inevitably lead to the dissipation of Alawite control and status. But this is where Bashar and many of the leading Alawite figures must look around them and understand and digest evolving historical trends...."Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XLV

Published on November 10, 2011"[I] also hope for [Tunisia's] Ennahda turns out to be a reasonable, moderate party that would be a good model for rest of the region," Elliott Abrams of Council of Foreign Relations tells RT TV network (previously known as Russia Today) the other day. Unfortunately, however, his is a statement that clearly reflects the West's skepticism over type or types of governments emerging from the ashes of dismantled despotic regimes in the Arab world, although democracy is not a sharply defined form of government.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XLIV

Published on October 31, 2011Is Arab Spring likely to evolve into a new idea, distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement? "Potentially, yes" was the answer of philosopher and critical theorist Slavoj Zizek at the Charlie Rose Show on October 26, 2011. Zizek, who is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost intellectuals of radical left and said to be working in the traditions of Hegelianism, Marxism and Lacania psychoanalysis, believes that the pro-democracy protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are "potentially" defining some new "-ism". According to him, philosophers cannot provide ready-made solutions to the issues that the world confronts today but they can enable people to ask the right questions.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XLIII

Published on October 27, 2011Will democracy, over the long run, mean that China, which needs and knows that continued economic prosperity is essential to meet all its challenges, be outpaced by India? Azim Premji, India's third richest man and chairman of Wipro Limited, who is widely known for his entrepreneurship, modesty, frugality and philanthropy, has an insightful perspective on this question.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XLII

Published on October 24, 2011Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, 86, dies while King Abdullah, 87, remains in hospital at a time when there is growing Arab unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. The strength and message of the Arab Spring is so universal that many global analysts now draw a link between the spirit of the young people who drove the pro-democracy demonstrations in the Arab world with the wave of anti-world financial system protests on Wall Street in the US and elsewhere in the world.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XLI

Published on October 21, 2011Qadhafi held on to the bitter end. According to Al Jazeera, its reporter in Sirte, Tony Birtley, has said: "Gaddafi stayed true to his words, that he would stay in Libya till the end. It was surprising to many that he did actually stay here in Sirte - it's taken such a bombardment in the last 13 days. Nothing could survive in here for very long. I think they were starved of food, starved of ammunition, and finally there was nothing to do but to run". The capture and death of Qadhafi warrant reproduction of certain portions of "Arab unrest: perspectives - XXVI", carried by this newspaper on September 23, 2011, at length:Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XL

Published on October 19, 2011The father of Pakistan's nuclear program, Dr A Q Khan, has attributed the plight of the Arabs to "their betrayal of the Ottoman Turks". He has also lambasted them for their failure to work towards acquiring nuclear capability. Had they started pursuing nuclear program soon after the Suez Crisis of 1956 they would have become nuclear states 10 years later. He has also argued that in those days there existed no Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nor were there any rules that restricted the sale and purchase of equipment and material required to develop weapons as various companies of European markets were openly offering and selling nuclear material and know-how.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXIX

Published on October 14, 2011The Israeli leadership in particular is so often irked by the word "Palestine" or "Palestinian", let alone words "Palestanian statehood". The irony, however, is that one of the most rabid pro-Israel commentators, Joan Peters, had built up the entire edifice of her argument in From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict (published in 1984) around what an article titled The Rehabilitation of Joan Peters: Discredited author finds a new audience carried by the Rittenhouse Review on June 19, 2002 called "the preposterous claim that Palestine was virtually devoid of Arabs when Jews began aggressively settling in the area in the mid-20th century." In one of her TV talks on the Middle East conflict in recent years, Peters reiterated her position in relation to the issue.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXVIII

Published on October 07, 2011"The late Eqbal Ahmad, who was certainly one of the two or three most brilliant analysts of contemporary history and politics that I ever knew, always drew attention to the fact that successful liberation movements were successful precisely because they employed creative ideas, original ideas, imaginative ideas, whereas less successful movements (like ours, alas) had a pronounced tendency to use formulas and an uninspired repetition of past slogans and past patterns of behaviour," Edward W. Said writes in Al-Ahram and Al-Hayat, December 2000.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXVII

Published on September 30, 2011"Now, after the Arab springs emphasised their desire for liberty, it's time for a Palestinian spring - the moment of independence," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made these historic remarks at the General Assembly. Not only does the PA, an overwhelming majority of countries believe that the Palestinians deserve a full membership in the United Nations particularly after the emergence of new challenges growing out of popular revolts in North Africa and the Middle East. Unfortunately, however, Israel and its principal supporter--the US-- have chosen to be on the wrong side of history at a time when the Arab Spring is changing the course of history.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXVI

Published on September 23, 2011In his speeches, Moammar Qadhafi sounded more like Saddam Husain than Hosni Mubarak or Zine al-Abidin bin Ali. Both Saddam and Qadhafi were good at using historical narratives with a view to carrying out their full exercise of absolute power over their respective peoples. But Qadhafi was nowhere near the Iraqi leader in laying an account of sequence of historical events over reality to create a playful historic environment for political objectives. Saddam's talent touched new heights during Iraq-Iran war in the eighties. Moreover, both the Arab leaders also relished their ability to make predictions, although Qadhafi seemed to have a clear edge over Saddam in this regard.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXV

Published on August 30, 2011How ironic it is that Chad is one of the 20 odd African countries that have unilaterally recognised the National Transitional Council (NTC) as legitimate representative body of the Libyan people. "Chad recognises the National Transitional Council as the only legitimate authority of the Libyan people," Chad foreign ministry secretary general Moussa Dago said on August 24.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXIV

Published on August 24, 2011What could be some formidable challenges that the Transitional National Council (TNC) will be facing in the post-Qadhafi Libya? These may be about the issues relating to Libyan opposition's own legitimacy and the sheer absence of democratic institutions in the desert country of North Africa. Not only are there some more burning questions, there are numerous thought-provoking perspectives on the current Libyan situation.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXIII

Published on August 23, 2011William Engdhal, the author of Full Spectrum Dominance:Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, is of the view that what is going on in Libya for some months is a major effort by the US and Nato forces to pour at least dollars one billion--by best estimates-- into the "so-called Transitional National Council". According to him, it's a rival tribal clan warfare that's going on in Libya. "That is not democracy movement by any stretch of imagination."Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXII

Published on June 20, 2011United States Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen's recent TV interview seems to have confirmed suspicions that the Supreme Council of the armed forces in Egypt, which is said to have been tasked by the US to midwife a democratic process in post-Mubarak Egypt, will not let the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) come into power through parliamentary and presidential elections in the most populous Arab country later this year.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXXI

Published on June 13, 2011There are some strong similarities between Pakistan and Yemen. Both are Islamic republics; both are suffering from varying degrees of political turmoil; both have political culture and infrastructure in place; both the countries see a strong participation and influence of tribal culture in their respective social milieu and political set-up; both have suffered from long bouts of dictatorship; both are facing a constant decline in gas and water resources and an increase in the number of challenges posed by growing populations.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXX

Published on June 07, 2011The wave of optimism that swept across North Africa and the Middle East seems to have been doggedly challenged by Syria's crisis, stalemate in Libya and uncertainty in Yemen in particular. Russia seeks to play a significant role in the region because of a variety of factors.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXIX

Published on May 26, 2011No to return to the 1967 borders ... Congress applaudsRead full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXVIII

Published on May 19, 2011Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a phone call to Syrian president Bashar-al Asad. But he is informed by the latter's officials that the President cannot take his call now "because he's on the phone with [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmedinejad". Bashar did not return Erdogan's phone call.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXVII

Published on May 17, 2011"Can he [Bashar al-Asad] survive? Should he survive? Do you [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] tell him it's time to go?" The Turkish prime minister has a measured response to these questions: "It's early to make a decision today because the final decision will be made by the people of Syria, of course. The unity and integrity of Syria should remain. That's how we want to see our neighbour."Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXVI

Published on May 16, 2011The Arab Spring is said to have shattered the new Turkish foreign policy "myth" as popular uprisings sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East have compromised Turkey's influence in the region and have presented a kind of dilemma to it. Some critics argue that Ankara's `zero-problem with our neighbours' foreign policy has profoundly stunted its ability to play its due role, particularly in relation to Syria, while some others contend that the country is ahead of the curve strategically.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXV

Published on May 12, 2011What is the greatest challenge to the Obama administration at this point in time? Is the wave of political upheavals sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East good or bad for the United States? Francis Fukuyama, who is best-known for his book The End of History and the Last Man, has some interesting perspectives on these and some other questions. According to him, the biggest foreign policy challenge to the present US administration is Pakistan-a problem that has no solution.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXIV

Published on May 05, 2011Why hasn't Osama bin Laden's death stirred open anger in the Arab world? Has he been rendered somehow irrelevant by the Arab Spring or Arab Awakening? "Osama was much more popular five years, eight years ago than he is today. He's just kind of irrelevant today," says Dexter Filkins of New York Times, who recently spent six weeks in the middle of a "slow-motion revolution" in Yemen, at the Charlie Rose show.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXIII

Published on May 03, 2011"The first and most obvious reason for his [Osama bin Laden's] popularity is his eloquence, a skill much admired and appreciated in the Arab world since ancient times. Many tales are told of the great orators of the past. But in the modern Arab world there is little sign of eloquence, and indeed little need for it, since most rulers rely on repression rather than persuasion to secure the obedience of their subjects.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXII

Published on April 30, 2011The Arab Spring has finally thrown up a big surprise for the hitherto irrelevant "state" of the Middle East, Israel. As the global media, including the Israeli press, strongly suggest, the Hamas-Fatah rapprochement and the bombing of the gas pipeline that supplies gas to Israel and Jordan have been received by Israel as twin shocks. But what is more alarming for Tel Aviv--reconciliation deal between the two Palestinian sides brokered by post-Mubarak setup in Egypt or the attack on the controversial Egyptian gas pipeline?Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XXI

Published on April 23, 2011'Did we make a mistake in the 1980s and should we not have done what we did with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan?' The US efforts aimed at seeking a policy `correctness' in relation to the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East seem to have been vigorously directed towards finding "the best possible" answer to this question.Read full story

Arab unrest: Pakistan advised to stay neutral

Published on April 22, 2011Pakistan should not take the side of oppressive rulers in Arab countries facing uprisings against their autocracy and despotic rule as ultimate victory would be of people fighting for their rights. This was the gist of the discussion on "Turmoil in the Arab Countries" arranged by the Strategic Technology Resources (STR) of Dr Shireen M Mazari.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XX

Published on April 21, 2011Are the two sides in Libya at an equal stalemate? Sir David Frost poses this question to Carl Bildt, the foreign minister of Sweden-a country very much outside Nato, but a highly valuable part of the coalition against Qadhafi as it provides "qualitative and highly sophisticated assets" to the Western military alliance's operations.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XIX

Published on April 17, 2011The following instalment of the series "Arab unrest: perspectives" has been dedicated to the fond memory of Business Recorder's senior staff member Rais Ahmad Khan who passed away at the age of 83 in Karachi in the wee hours of last Tuesday. Khan, who had devoted a large part of his life to the studies of Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, was an inspiration, a sage and a friend to many of his colleagues:Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XVIII

Published on April 06, 2011"It's not all about oil, but a lot is about oil and [the US] economic interests. There was that phrase that the [US] President used about the economic driving forces. But the Saudi importance and that relationship made us look the other way." These were the exact words of Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, who was explaining to guest host Al Hunt of Bloomberg News at the Charlie Rose Show the US policy approach to the kingdom in relation to the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XVII

Published on April 05, 2011"America's founders knew all too well how war appeals to the vanity of rulers and their thirst for glory. That's why they took care to deny presidents the kingly privilege of making war at their own discretion. But after 9/11 President Bush, with obvious relish, declared himself a `war president.' And he kept the nation focused on martial matters by morphing the pursuit of al Qaeda into a war against Saddam Hussein," Paul Krugman, the recipient of 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics, wrote in a New York Times op-ed titled "The War President" in 2005.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XVI

Published on March 26, 2011"Russia, China and India abdicated their responsibility in the Security Council by giving Susan Rice [US ambassador to UN] the leeway to use loose language to get into Libya. We need to say very clearly that the US, Britain and France must desist from any further military involvement in Libya and that it is not their role to carry out the regime change [in Libya]," says a leading US-based academic.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XV

Published on March 24, 2011"One thing is for sure: Qadhafi must go. We have made this decision with our allies and we want to see it through... .We're certainly involved in regime change. Certainly, our mission is to remove Qadhafi-either dead or alive-let's face it... .We made a mistake in the Gulf War I. When we freed Kuwait we should have removed the dictator [Qadhafi]. Shame on us we didn't do it. We had to wait for a number of years to get the job done the second time."Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XIV

Published on March 23, 2011"You would think that you are a rebel movement and suddenly the world has joined sides with you. This would not be the day to take a day-off," says a seemingly frustrated NBC News' journalist on the role of the troops that defected from Qadhafi's army in Tobrouk over the past few weeks.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XIII

Published on March 22, 2011The democratisation wave or the democratisation movement that began from Tunisia is said to have now encountered two very serious obstacles. The first is the rampant bloodshed in Libya, which is a terrible disincentive for anybody in the Arab world to launch any kind of democratisation movement while the other obstacle is growing fears that the democratisation drive can dissolve into a serious sectarian conflict as happened in the case of Iraq.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XII

Published on March 17, 2011The reports coming out of Bahraini capital about the plight of Pakistani expatriates are indeed frightening. At least two Pakistani expatriates have been killed and several others injured allegedly by pro-opposition forces in this Persian Gulf island state in recent days.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - XI

Published on March 15, 2011Oil prices that soared towards $120 per barrel on February 24 on account of turmoil in Libya eased only on Saudi Arabia's assurance to European refiners that the kingdom could step in to fill any supply shortfalls. Is there any country that could compensate for the lost oil output if Saudi Arabia descends into turmoil? The answer will be surely in the negative because the kingdom is the largest producer and exporter of petroleum liquids in the world.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives -X

Published on March 11, 2011If the two first words of Frank Schoenberner's quote "his rebellion is the bitter, sardonic laughter of all great satirists" are replaced with "Qadhafi's" and "defiance", respectively, whatever emerges can be termed a highly interesting remark on the following two comments (reproduced verbatim) which were labelled as "highest rated comments" on Youtube in response to Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi's interview by ABC News' Christiane Amanpour a couple of weeks ago:Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - IX

Published on March 08, 2011While a Facebook page calls for a "day of rage" protest on March 11 in Saudi Arabia some profoundly profound questions making headlines in the global press are: "Is Saudi Arabia next?" "What if Saudi Arabia is next?" "Could the next Mideast uprising happen in Saudi Arabia?" "King Abdullah is showering his people with cash and releasing political prisoners to stave off protests. What if it doesn't work?"Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - VIII

Published on February 23, 2011Writing in The North Africa Journal, Arezki Daoud says he strongly believes that after bin Ali and Mubarak, Qadhafi is now next in line. He argues: "Sandwiched between two countries that started it all, he is now next in line. But until he officially leaves, the mercenaries will continue to wreck havoc and the body count will continue to rise as well."Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - VII

Published on February 18, 2011The following translation of a text in Arabic uploaded and shared on Facebook on Wednesday makes an interesting reading of the Arab world situation in relation to the reign of various Arab rulers:Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - VI

Published on February 15, 2011Although, the exit of Tunisian and Egyptian rulers has clearly set in motion an inevitable process that would widen the circle of democracy in the region, the file of Arab world documents about the on-going situation is indeed so thick that few would ever be ready to read it in its entirety. Who are the next pro-US `bad guys' after Mubarak and bin Ali in the region?Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives -V

Published on February 12, 2011Hosni Mubarak was finally thrown under the bus. A clear US message to those countries that are under the cusp of change: Washington will no longer prefer stability to democracy. The present Arab world situation has presented itself in the shape of a formidable challenge to the Obama administration, which desperately seeks to strike a delicate balance.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - IV

Published on February 11, 2011Middle East narratives are often characterised by deceptive statements that include some element of truth. Professor Fouad Ajami, the writer of Newsweek's cover story, has argued that the "Arab Revolution of 2011" has its roots in decades of oppression and plunder and that the 1982 Hama revolt against Hafez Al-Assad was a sectarian revolt. According to him: "It was a sectarian revolt, a fortress of Sunni Islam at odds with Assad's Alawite regime...."Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives - III

Published on February 10, 2011"History is the most dangerous concoction the chemistry of the mind has produced. It sets people dreaming, intoxicates them, engenders false memories, exaggerates their reflexes, keeps their old wounds open, torments their leisure, inspires them with megalomania and persecution complexes."Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives-II

Published on February 09, 2011Blast at a natural gas pipeline that runs through Egypt's north Sinai disrupting flows to Jordan and Israel last Saturday confirmed Israelis' second major fear. Their first major fear is the fear of rejection of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty brokered by the then US President Jimmy Carter in 1979 upon which the US has built up its diplomacy for the entire Middle East and Near East ever since.Read full story

Arab unrest: perspectives-I

Published on February 08, 2011There used to be a famous joke about the now embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, according to which, when President Mubarak's car would reach a crossroad, his chauffer would ask him the direction. But Mubarak would first like to know about the roads that his two predecessors--Nasser and Sadat-- used to take. "Nasser left and Sadat right," would be his driver's answer. "Then don't move," Mubarak would order him. This joke perhaps characterizes the present-day turmoil on a somber note. It can also be termed a sardonic comment on the present-day upheavals in the Arab world at large. Mubarak doesn't want to move regardless of the ferocity of protests calling for his ouster in the streets of Cairo in particular.Read full story