The Mideast and Abroad
- Published on Monday, 25 March 2013 00:00
President Obama’s foray into the Middle East may well provide him the last opportunity to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which is central to the region’s stability. Having failed in his effort during his first term to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the President may not want to invest significant political capital to seek a solution to an intractable conflict with an uncertain outcome. That said, the raging conflicts throughout the Middle East — the horrific civil war in Syria, the unending violence in Iraq, the instability in Egypt, the simmering conflict with Iran — may appear to have little to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet they are interconnected and will affect one another. A resolution to this explosive conflict is a must and only the United States can influence, induce, pressure or even resort to necessary coercive measures to compel Israel and the Palestinians to make the required concessions and reach a peaceful agreement.
- Published on Thursday, 21 March 2013 00:00
March 19, 2013 marked the tenth anniversary of the Iraq war, and I recollect those years with deep sorrow.
Scores of articles and op-eds have been written on the misguided Iraq war and perhaps not much can be added to the tales of one of America’s worst foreign policy blunders ever. To put this war in its proper perspective, however, the war and its consequences must be reviewed within the context of its repercussions on Iraq itself, the Middle Eastern region and on the United States. The most compelling question we must ask ourselves is: Have we learned enough from this sad chapter in our history to avoid another reckless military adventure in the future?
- Published on Friday, 15 March 2013 00:00
Egypt’s judiciary and security forces appear posed to crack down on militant, highly politicised and street battle-hardened soccer fans in a bid to exploit internal differences among them.
The crackdown however could boomerang by uniting rather than further dividing the fans in their opposition to the security forces, Egypt’s most hated institution because of its role in enforcing the repression of the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The security forces and the judiciary hope to capitalize on cracks among the fans, one of Egypt’s largest civic groups, that have emerged beyond their traditional rivalries over who was responsible for the death last year of 74 supporters of crowned Cairo club Al Ahli SC in a politically loaded brawl in the Suez Canal city of Port Said and how to respond to recent sentences handed down by a court against those responsible.
- Published on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 00:00
Struggling to maintain its place in Asia’s top tier, Iranian soccer is a reflection of a country laboring under the burden of a repressive political regime and not only the economic but increasingly also the psychological effect of international isolation and punishing sanctions.
The psychological wear and tear is universally visible. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a soccer fan who has unsuccessfully tried to tie football to his waning political bandwagon in part because of his encouragement of political interference in the game and his failure to invest in grassroots development and modernization, last October chided the national team for lowering its ambitions.
“If you think that you are only good enough for Asia, then that is what you will be and will remain. It is my firm opinion that Iran belongs to the world class elite as we have the talents and skills to be there,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said.
- Published on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 00:00
Syria’s two-year-old civil war continues to spiral out of control and drag its neighbors into the chaos. The refugee crisis now numbers in the millions, and the death count is projected to be near 70,000 people. Understandably, American politicians are scrambling to formulate a response to the conflict that will mitigate its now inevitable long-term repercussions. Several Republican senators — true to their hawkish roots — maintain that the solution is to arm the Syrian rebels and aid in their immediate overthrow of the embattled dictator, Bashar al Assad.
These Congressmen, particularly John McCain and Lindsey Graham, operate under a paradigm that is disconcertingly redolent of the thinking that justified the invasion of Iraq: if the dictator falls, peace will ensue, and a new government can be established (maybe even a pro-American one). However also true to the Iraq analogy, arming the rebels will not create a thriving democracy. The Syrian conflict has become so convoluted, so divided, and so complex that you can’t simply “arm” the rebels and expect positive results.
- Published on Sunday, 10 March 2013 00:00
The fall-out of last year’s death of 72 soccer fans in a politically-loaded stadium brawl has brought the need for reform of Egypt’s Mubarak-era law enforcement and judiciary to a head with football supporters in Egyptian cities protesting the verdict in the trial of those accused of responsibility for the incident and security officials striking against being made a scapegoat in the country’s political crisis.
Protests sparked by this weekend’s confirmation of the death sentences of 21 Port Said soccer supporters, conviction of only two out of nine police officers accused of responsibility for the worst incident in Egyptian sport history, and aquittal of 28 of the in total 73 defendants reflect intensified public anger rooted in widespread distrust of the security forces as well as the judiciary’s failure to hold accountable officers and officials responsible for the death of more than 900 protesters since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled two years ago.
- Published on Friday, 08 March 2013 00:00
Water tankers line the unpaved road outside a pre-fab United Nations meeting room in Za’atari, the Syrian refugee camp in a desert just south of the Jordanian-Syrian border that is home to 110,000 escapees from the brutal war between Bashar al-Assad and his opponents or just about a quarter of the total number of Syrians in the country. Inside the meeting room, different perspectives on resource conservation and entitlement spill into the open.
A young Jordanian aid worker complains that Syrians despite years of drought have little concept of water conservation, a sensitive issue in one of the world’s more water-starved nations that has seen its population grow by an approximate eight percent as a result of the refugee crisis. Jordanian and United Nations estimates suggest that Jordan’s Syrian population could increase to 600,000 by April and up to a million by the end of the year.
- Published on Monday, 04 March 2013 00:00
Gay and lesbian Muslims are holding a two-day conference in Detroit this weekend featuring a gay Muslim leader who grew up in Detroit.
- Published on Thursday, 28 February 2013 00:00
In Barack Obama’s State of the Union address he claimed that the United States would do anything necessary to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. For the first time, after decades of strangling economic policies and increasingly adamant threats, “anything necessary” includes negotiations with the regime in Iran. Yet, thus far Iran has refused.
In my last piece here at Aslan Media, I argued that it was possible -- and effective -- to continue pursuing a policy of economic sanctions against Iran. The divided opinions of Iranian diaspora community in the United States toward the Iranian regime and the volatile rial protests in Iran brought me to that conclusion. I constructed the argument based largely upon news pieces written outside of Iran. Iran’s political environment and censorship practices make it very difficult to obtain reliable information about the situation as it was unfolding inside of the country. I was very surprised when the article I wrote received some extremely negative feedback from Aslan Media’s readers.
When the Muslim community in America reaches a point of finally talking about the issues of radicalism that face Muslim youth, that’s a sure sign that we’ve progressed. Surely, intolerance...
Continuing my look (aslan-media-columns/above-the-fold/item/336-poignant-crowd-sourced-film-recreates-the-palestinian-experience#.UYHBECvEpn8) at the use of crowd funding in the Middle East, in this post I turn from entertainment to the media, specifically citizen journalism.