Sunday, January 9, 2011

Middle East: Beware the ides of '11

...............An Arab menagerie of impotence..............

The outlook for the New Year does not bode well for the Arab world as political turmoil grips many states in the region.


Larbi Sadiki
(Dr Larbi Sadiki is a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter.)

"....Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, the occupied territories, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are all hotspots facing one or a combination of the ills of separation, succession, disunity or festering conflicts.

It is a sad state of events when the only really fortuitous thing the Arab world saw last year was Qatar winning the bid to host the World Cup in 2022.....

Unrest and revolution

Last year closed with a haunting image - of Tunisian president Ben Ali staring at the fully-bandaged, burnt body of a citizen whose suicide attempt ignited an uprising in Sidi Bouzid.

It look as if Ben Ali was living a petrifying premonition, looking at his own, dying body politic; as if the one dying was not the patient in intensive care, but rather Ben Ali's decaying rule....

Sectarians and successions

The dying days of 2010 did not inspire confidence about religious and sectarian harmony, that is for sure.

Maybe this is the time when men of piety need to do more for the sake of tolerance and coexistence. States can do the same in facilitating not only dialogue, but doing more through education, reformed laws and non-discrimination to improve the state of mutuality and equality....

An Arab menagerie of impotence

When one considers the Arab League, it most appropriately brings to mind the word 'beleaguered' (pun intended).

Its incapacity to weather Arab turbulence is noted in its increasing absence. Arab differences should energise it, not tear it apart.....

In practice, the policy of the EU simply paying for the construction of buildings and infrastructure bombed by Israel in the occupied territories no longer fools anyone. The EU looks unconvincing, disunited and increasingly xenophobic and Islamophobic.

On Palestine, its policy has been a total failure. It takes sides in internal differences between Hamas and Fatah, knowingly supporting a corrupt and authoritarian establishment in the West Bank, and has no policy of its own vis-à-vis Palestine.

It regurgitates hollow rhetoric, and generally still lends money and credence to delegitimized regimes all over the Middle East, including Israel - an occupying power...."

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