Politics

 

Donald Trump: Universal scapegoat

December 2017 – Donald Trump is possibly the worst American president in history, but that does not give the rest of the political establishment a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to taking responsibility for the mess the world is in.

Donald Trump’s terrifying Middle East playbook

January 2017 – America’s decision to democratically elect a dictator has Middle Eastern reformers bewildered, but the region’s despots are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory – a sure sign of troubling times ahead.

Turkey: “Everywhere I look I see fear”

July 2016 – Turkey’s failed military coup has been a “gift from God” for Erdoğan, who is now cementing his grip on dictatorship.

The folly of the Arab world’s nuclear energy dream

June 2016 – Investing in nuclear energy makes no economic, geostrategic or environmental sense in the Arab world. Renewables will provide the only sunny future.

Eutopian nightmares

June 2016 – By raising the drawbridge in the face of desperate refugees and succumbing to bigotry and hatred, the EU’s utopian ideals are being abandoned for a dystopian reality.

The Arab media paradox: Free expression amid repression

May 2016 – Frustratingly for Arab dictators and despots, no matter how much they try to silence, intimidate or co-opt the media, new loud and critical voices emerge.

Millet in the Middle East: Disunity in diversity

May 2016 – The Middle Eastern practice of assigning a faith to every citizen and a separate court system for each religion promotes division and sectarianism.

Discovering Sushi Islam

April 2016 – By following two young girls on their voyage of discovery of Sunni and Shia Islam, a new documentary highlights the insanity of Islamic sectarianism.

ليست سورية هي المسألة، المسألة هي العالم

يناير 2016 – في لقاء موسع، يتحدث الكاتب والناشط البارز ياسين الحاج صالح هنا عن سوريا الماضي، الحاضر المأساوي والمستقبل المجهول.

Yassin al-Haj Saleh: “Syria is a unique symbol of injustice, apathy and amnesia”

January 2016 – In an exclusive interview, prominent Syrian writer and dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh talks about Syria’s past, tragic present and uncertain future.

Western Muslims: The neglected link

January 2016 – Despite their under-utilisation and the suspicion they elicit, European and American Muslims can help bridge the chasm between “West” and “East”.

Beyond the Arab winter

November 2015 – As the Middle East stumbles perilously close to its own “world war”, seeds of change are already sprouting hopes of a better century ahead.

The UN’s Insecurity Council

November 2015 – The UN Security Council has a long track record of failing to resolve conflicts. Now it is also in danger of bringing the major powers to blows.

A utopian refuge for refugees?

September 2015 – Can an Egyptian billionaires vision of turning a Mediterranean island into a just republic for refugees help solve the refugee crisis?

The Middle Eastern century that wasn’t

September 2015 – As the post-Ottoman order crumbles around us, would the Middle East would have been better or worse off had Turkey remained neutral during World War I?

The ghost of conflicts past, present and future

September 2015 – With all the wars and conflicts raging in the Middle East, collective trauma carries very serious consequences for the region.

Taxing questions about democracy in the Middle East

August 2015 – In the Middle East, there appears to be a link between autocracy and low taxes. Would higher taxation lead to greater representation or repression?

The empire must not strike back

June 2015 – Nostalgia for empire in the Middle East misses two points: we’re not witnessing the “final end of imperialism” and imperialism did not bring order.

A ‘War on Error’ against radical anti-Islam

May 2015 – Given how many New Atheists, Christian fundamentalists and neo-cons share a distorted view of Islam and Muslims, it’s high time for a War on Error. 

Enslaved by history

May 2015 – Failing to acknowledge the legacy of slavery on all our modern societies makes the present an unnecessary slave to history.

War and peace in the Middle East and Europe

April 2015 – Europe’s history of total war and mass displacement can help create more sympathy for today’s refugees and keep hope alive in the Middle East.

Dispelling the curse of the Nile

April 2015 – Conflict between Nile basin countries has been averted. But unless effective action is taken, a water war remains a distinct future possibility.

The self-fulfilling prophecy of the Sunni v Shia myth

March 2015 – Like in Syria and Iraq, the conflict in Yemen is not sectarian. But political profiteers and jihadists  are turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Netanyahu and the Middle East: The risky business of “business as usual”

March 2015 – Netanyahu’s re-election promises “business as usual”. But this is an extremely risky venture on the Iranian-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian fronts.

The real battle against ISIS

February 2015 – If ISIS is a virus, then fighting it with the antibiotic of ill-conceived deadly force and repression could create ever-more deadly strains.

The language of Arab (dis)unity

January 2015 – The romantic myth that Arabs share “one heart and one spirit” led pan-Arabism to talk unity while walking the path of disunity.

Mosul’s lost diversity

December 2014 – The Islamic State’s (ISIS) destruction of Mosul’s ethnic diversity is more heart-breaking than the erasure of its architectural and cultural heritage.

The ISIS disease in Mosul

October 2014 – For those who have refused to flee the Islamic State (ISIS), formerly close-knit Mosul has become a dangerous city robbed of its diversity and dignity.

The death throes of Arab thuggery

October 2014 – Arab civilisation has not collapsed but the thuggish political, economic and religious mafias dominating the region are dying violently.

The Syrian Kurd who went blind because he’d seen too much

October 2014 – From the man literally blinded by horrors to the girl whose dream is to read books,  we meet the Syrian Kurds fleeing the ISIS onslaught on Kobani.

The social media’s Islamic state of terror

September 2014 – ISIS has skillfully manipulated social media as a powerful propaganda tool.  Should the online community self-censor to deprive it of free publicity?

Israel and Egypt’s insane alliance against Gaza

August 2014 – Despite Egypt’s mediating role, it is no impartial broker on Gaza. It shares Israel’s view that Hamas can be crushed and suffocated into submission.

The caliphate illusion: “restoring” what never was

July 2014 – The tyranny of Arab secular dictators and destructive Western hegemony combined to enable ISIS to “restore” a brutal caliphate which never existed.

Bush, Blair en de blitzkrieg in Irak

Juni 2014 – Gezien de verreikende gevolgen van de Amerikaanse invasie van Irak, laten we het idee om Bush en Blair voor het gerecht te brengen nieuw leven inblazen.

Criminally reckless in Iraq

June 2014 – The US invasion and occupation caused Iraq to implode into anarchy and then explode into civil war. For that reason, its architects must be prosecuted.

Send Qatar off and bring on Tunisia for 2022 World Cup

June 2014 – If Qatar gets a red card for the 2022 World Cup, Arabs should enter a joint bid to host it in Tunisia, regional role model for revolution and reform.

Syria and the scent of nostalgia May 2014 – In Oh My Sweet Land, the kitchen acts as the stage where events in Syria are played out, people’s fates are sealed and political plots are cooked up.

Al-Aqsa/Temple Mount: Ground zero or common ground? March 2014 – Jerusalem’s holiest site is again provoking tension and controversy. But could it also bridge the chasm between Israelis and Palestinians?

Palestinian history ✝ – Christians are Arab too March 2014 – Despite what some in the Knesset think, Christians in Israel are Arabs too and have been prominent in Palestinian politics, society and culture.

Spain, return and the other 1492 February 2014 – Spain’s recognition of the Jews it expelled ignores another historical crime: the Muslims forced out of Andalusia.

The square root of the Egyptian revolution

January 2014 – The Egyptian revolution is fatally wounded but it is far too soon to sound the death knells. The dreams it unleashed are impossiblee to contain.

Can Egypt start a new chapter of Middle Eastern history?

January 2014 – The new constitution says Egypt is a “gift” that will “write a new history for humanity”. Should neighbours welcome or fear greater Egyptian influence?

The Arabs, apartheid South Africa and Israel December 2013 – Reactions to apartheid South Africa differed across the Arab world and were coloured both by anti-colonial solidarity and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel-Palestine: a book of the people November 2013 – In Israel-Palestine, a peace without the people has left two peoples without peace. That’s why I’m writing a book about these most intimate of enemies.

The Arab-Israeli war of narratives October 2013 – On the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war, Egyptians and Israelis still cannot agree on the conflict’s name, date or outcome.

Syria needs joint Arab action to end violence September 2013 – It is up to the Arab world to stop the bloodshed in Syria – unlikely as this may sound, and despite Arab League failure so far.

US intervention in Syria: Not kind, but cruel September 2013 – Punishing a dictator for killing his own people by killing yet more of them is not the answer. It didn’t work in Iraq, and it won’t work in Syria.

Israel, the puppet master with no strings August 2013 – Why is Israel, despite being a minor player, is seen by so many Egyptians and others in the region as the master puppeteer behind the crisis in Egypt?

Islamism is the illusion August 2013 – Islamism is not the solution but is built on an illusion. Islam’s past strength was actually a secular one based on free thought.

Syria’s Sunni v Shi’a myth June 2013 – Insisting falsely that the Syrian conflict is sectarian will tear the country apart once Assad  is gone and place the Alawite minority in grave danger.

The Middle East’s sinking leadership June 2013 – From Egypt to Turkey, Middle Eastern uprisings have not only been leaderless but have even been a rebellion against the idea of leadership itself.

Hitler: Arab hero or villain May 2013 – A shop called Hitler in Egypt raises some uncomfortable questions about Arab perceptions of the Nazi dictator.

A brief history of Western ‘jihadists’ April 2013 – From Guy Fawkes and Lord Byron to Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell, Westerners have an ancient tradition of doing ‘jihad’ in foreign lands.

The clash within civilisations March 2013 – This year marks the 20th anniversary of the clash of civilizations theory, but Samuel P Huntington was wrong.

Reading between the lines of the Middle Eastern media February 2013- Despite its bottom ranking in the Press Freedom Index, the Middle Eastern media is freer than it appears at first sight.

Israel and Gaza: When attack is the worst form of defence November 2012 – As the fog of war distort people’s vision and compassion, can Israeli and Palestinian reject the strategy of violence offered by their leaderships?

The Arab world’s missed opportunities November 2012 – Early Arab rejectionism and division unwittingly helped to build Israel and to lose Palestine, with the Palestinian people paying the heavy price.

News of revolution (part III): Televising the life and death of an Egyptian president November 2012 – Anwar Sadat was the first Egyptian leader to exploit television’s propaganda power – and even his assassination was unwittingly televised.

Israel’s missed opportunities for peace October 2012 – Israel has squandered so many opportunities for peace that its very identity as a ‘Jewish state’ is in jeopardy.

News of revolution (part II): Voice of the Arabs or Nasserist mouthpiece? October 2012 – The Voice of the Arabs steered Egypt from isolationism and towards a pan-Arabist vision in which Nasser was the anointed leader of the Arab world.

The stick of boycott v the carrot of recognition October 2012 – The targeted boycott of Israel should be complemented with Arab recognition of the Jewish state and grassroots engagement with ordinary Israelis.

The mash of civilisations September 2012 – There is no conflict between Islam and the West – only clashes of interests between and within them. But there is a very real mash of civilisations.

Aanslag op Amerikaans consulaat in Benghazi valt niet uit de lucht September 2012 – De aanslag op het consulaat in Benghazi was geen verrassing. De voortekens waren al lang zichtbaar.

Refuge in exile August 2012 – Is it possible for Israelis and Palestinians to find common refuge in their shared notions of exile and return?

Israel and Egypt’s other revolution July 2012 – The creation of Israel sparked a revolution in Egypt, and Nasser, the legendary champion of the Arab cause, once sought peace with the Jewish state.

High time for a fly-in to Syria May 2012 – Though risky, a civilian fly-in to Syria will send out a clear message that the world cannot stand idly by while ordinary people are slaughtered.

The battle for the soul of the Arab man May 2012 – The polarised debate over Arab women overlooks the fact that men can be victims of the patriarchy too and their identity is a cultural battlefield.

Can Hizbullah reinvent itself? February 2012 – As Hizbullah sides with its brutal backers in Damascus, are the Shi’ite movement’s days numbered or can it regain its popularity and credibility?

Admiring the enemy February 2012 – Despite the ugly war of words between Israelis and Arabs, Israel does also get some good press in the Arab world and has some surprising admirers.

The Arab media paradox February 2012 – Despite the general Arab decline in the press freedom rankings, the region’s media have, in many ways, actually become freer.

Religious rites and wrongs January 2012 – The banning of a Jewish festival this year in Egypt is wrong, both from a secular and religious perspective.

Israel’s Ahmadinejad and Iran’s Netanyahu December 2011 – Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu are so alike it is hard to tell them apart. The best way to neutralise them is through a nuclear weapons-free Middle East.

Islamist-driven democracy is not a snowball in hell October 2011 – Islamists are not all Osama bin Laden and secularists are not all Atatürk . They can work together to achieve democracy.

Law and order in Libya October 2011 – Muammar Gaddafi once lived above the law, but his killers must not be permitted the same impunity to get away with murder. Justice must be done, even for fallen despots.

Libya needs true people power October 2011 – Gaddafi and his corrupt ‘jamahiriya’ may be gone, but Libyans should not give up on the dream of a direct democracy for the masses.

Should Arabs treat Erdoğan as a hero? September 2011 – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received a hero’s welcome across the Arab world. But should Arabs welcome or be weary of Turkey’s greater engagement in the Middle East?

Are we now ‘friends’ of al-Qaeda in Libya? September 2011 – Belgium was one of the ‘Friends of Libya’ in Paris. But does the prime minister realise that these Libyan ‘friends’ include a former al-Qaeda fighter?  

9/12: Turning over a new leaf in the Middle East September 2011 – On the 10th anniversary of the day after 9/11, it is high time to trash the ‘clash of civilisations’ theory and the ‘war on terror’ and start a new chapter in the West’s relationship with the new Middle East.

Egypt and Israel: cold peace or cold war? September 2011 – Relations between Israel and post-revolution Egypt are proving tetchy – but ordinary people hold the keys to peace.

Love thy neighbouring enemy September 2011 – Recognising the good qualities of the other side can be a first step to healing Arab-Israeli wounds.

Confessions of a ‘self-hating Arab’ August 2011 – Only self-hating Arabs and Jews can save the Middle East from itself.

The Arab Spring’s bottom line August 2011 – The Arab uprisings are not just about democracy and dignity. But with domestic and global economic crises, how likely are they to deliver on bread and butter issues?

Egypt, Israel and Palestine: towards the promised land of peace? August 2011 – It is high time for Israelis and Palestinians – with grassroots support from Egyptians – to unlock their latent people’s power and forge a popular peace.

David Miliband: revolution v extremism July 2011 – Britain’s former foreign minister David Miliband has high hopes for the Arab revolutions.

Arab spring and Turkish autumn? June 2011 – Is Turkey truly a role model for the Arab Spring or is it actually a secular democracy in its autumn years?

The six-day curse June 2011 – Rather than an almost miraculous blessing, Israel’s six-day victory in 1967 has proven to be a naksa for Israelis and Arabs alike.

How African is the Arab revolution? April 2011 – Though the ‘Arab’ revolution started in North Africa, most debate has focused on the Arab world, but what about the rest of Africa?

Mobile revolution in the Middle East March 2011 – “You won’t fool the children of the revolution.” Especially not if they’re Twittering away on their mobile phones.

Defiantly delusional March 2011 – Muammar Gaddafi and Silvio Berlusconi have something in common: delusions of grandeur that keep them desperately holding on to the reins of power.

An Arab model for democracy February 2011 – The time is ripe to crystallise a creative vision for Egyptian democracy, one that can perhaps be used as a model by other Arab countries.

When the revolution comes… February 2011 – A democratic Egypt will not go to war with Israel, but for the cold peace to thaw, Israel must ends its occupation.

Diary of Dictator M, aged 82¾: a panicked call for Tunisia February 2011 – In the first leaked extract from President M’s diaries, he calms an alarmed fellow dictator in Tunisia.

The Jasmine Revolution February 2011 – Tunisia’s revolution will spread the scent of its jasmine to oppressed nations all over the region.

The death throes of Arab dictatorships February 2011 – Will the unfolding popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt lead to the region’s dictators falling one after the other like dominos?

Mubarak: the life and times of a dictator February 2011 – To grasp the enormity of the change undergoing Egyptian society, it is well worth considering that the majority of Egyptians have never known another president than Hosni Mubarak.

The curse of the Nile December 2010 – Egypt is certainly the gift of the Nile, but the great river could become east Africa’s curse. What are the chances of a future ‘water war’?

Just say moo December 2010 – Animal rights activists are calling for global vegetarianism, but the Middle East is not ready to sacrifice its meat-eating lifestyle.

Love in times of conflict September 2010 – Arabs and Israelis tend to view personal relationships that cross the divide between them with suspicion, perhaps because individual love has the power to undermine collective hate.

Malta’s mash of civilisations August 2010 – Malta’s complex heritage is living proof that cultures mash more than civilisations clash.

I say you want a revolution, Egypt July 2010 – Activists in Egypt should look to the hippy movement of the 1960s for a successful model in bringing about long-term social change.

No place like home July 2010 – A return to an ancestral homeland is a dream that’s long inspired diasporas – often with troubling results.

Love and loathing in the Middle East June 2010 – By calling Egyptians who marry Israelis traitors, Egypt has betrayed a group of vulnerable people who are guilty of little more than loving across enemy lines.

Stop press May 2010 – Jordanian journalists believe they do not enjoy enough freedom – a malaise shared with the rest of the Middle East. But why?

سبيل للخروج من فوضى الشرق الأوسط

يناقش خالد دياب بأن انتشار الأسلحة النووية سوف يستمر طالما استمرّينا في التعامل مع ترسانة إسرائيل النووية

A way out of the Middle East’s critical mess

May 2010 – As Barack Obama seeks to tackle the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it is high time for Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

Splitting Egypt’s political atom March 2010 – Can Mohamed ElBaradei’s campaign for the Egyptian presidency save a country close to political meltdown?

Learning from the Sadat years March 2010 – The Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel remain controversial, but Arabs and Israelis can draw lessons from Anwar el-Sadat’s quest for peace.

Foreign hegemony or repressive self-rule? February 2010 – The Arab world may debate the merits of external occupation versus repressive self-rule, but neither are acceptable.

The tunes of change February 2010 – For a new generation of young Egyptian artists, music is not just about love.

Israel’s welcome barrier January 2010 – Israel is building a new anti-migrant barrier along its Egyptian border – leaving Mubarak’s regime with one problem fewer.

Diagnosing the Middle East’s ills

January 2010 – Author and journalist Brian Whitaker diagnoses the Arab world’s problems.

The power of false reporting

November 2009 – Reckless journalism is held responsible for the violence and tensions following the Algeria-Egypt World Cup playoffs.

Algeria and Egypt play political football

November 2009 – Preparations for a World Cup showdown are getting heated, but does the animosity between Algeria and Egypt run deeper?

Beyoncé: saint or sinner?

November 2009 – As the singer prepares to visit Egypt, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists agree: Beyoncé is the root of all evil.

Palestinian reconciliation through the ballot box

October 2009 – To break the destructive deadlock between Fatah and Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas should step down as Palestinian president, call immediate elections and organise referenda on the future course of the Palestinian struggle.

Green shoots in the desert

October 2009 – The Arab world no longer dismisses environmentalism as a western luxury and is gradually awakening to the massive environmental challenges.

Fatwa fads

September 2009 – From fashion tips to adult breastfeeding – rulings by some clerics range from the eccentric to the downright bizarre.

EU election monitoring… junket, joke or both?

September 2009 – “The Afghan elections were fair, but not free,” declared European election monitors. Meaningless sound-bite or what?

Turkey’s eastern promise August 2009 – The EU rose out of the ruins of war. Perhaps, with a little patience, a Middle Eastern union is not such a distant fantasy.

Who’s responsible for the Arab world’s mess? August 2009 – A UN report has reignited the controversy over who is to blame for the sorry state of the Arab world: Arabs or the West?

The truth about Arab science July 2009 – Can we look forward to a boom in Arab science or will poverty, bureaucracy and religion be insurmountable obstacles?

What about the Western warlords?

July 2009 – Cherie Blair’s chastisement of the African Union for not co-operating with the International Criminal Court is pretty rich coming from the wife of a man many believe is a war criminal.

Equality: not even in death July 2009 – Tragic as the deaths of young British soldiers in Afghanistan are, why is the media not mourning Afghan civilian casualties?

Losing the plot July 2009- Wacky conspiracy theories cause damage by drawing attention away from the real plots being hatched by our governments.

Tehran syndrome July 2009 – Despite its dislike of the Ahmadinejad government, Egypt fears the spread of the Iranian protest contagion to its own borders, but why are Egyptians not showing any symptoms of the ‘Iranian flu’?

Is Obama’s change simply cosmetic? June 2009 – Obama may gain some trust, but America’s deceptive belief that it is not an empire condemns its leader to repeating old mistakes.

Grassroots change we CAN believe in June 2009 – One of Barack Obama’s winning campaign slogans was “change we can believe in”. And with his presidency, everything has changed and nothing has changed when it comes to US foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

تغيير على مستوى الجذور نستطيع أن نؤمن به

كان أحد شعارات حملة باراك أوباما الناجحة “تغيير نستطيع أن نؤمن به”. ومع توليه الرئاسة، تغير كل شيء، إلا أن شيئاً لم يتغير بالنسبة لسياسة الولايات المتحدة الخارجية تجاه النزاع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني

Pakistan: stifled from birth May 2009 – Why does India, despite its size and diversity, seem so much more stable than Pakistan?

The Middle East must look to the future April 2009 – A secular society confines religion to the spiritual sphere where it belongs, and leaves worldly affairs to human resourcefulness.

Secularism in a veil April 2009 – An outward appearance of Islamism disguises the increasingly secular reality of some Arab and Muslim societies.

The summit of hypocrisy April 2009 -If Arabs want their concerns about other nations’ war crimes to be taken seriously, then they should not be welcoming Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to their countries and summits.

Rebel without a hope February 2009 – Like an ageing rocker, Muammar el-Gaddafi is on a mission to rid Africa of poverty and conflict. But are his dreams of a United State of African to prove as futile as his earlier visions of Arab unity?

Justice, the American way January 2009 – Is there any chance that George W Bush will ever face indictment for his alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity?

Shock and awe on a shoestring December 2008 – An Iraqi journalist expressed his contempt for President Bush in a manner familiar in the Arab world: by throwing his shoes.

The audacity to dream November 2008 – If we suspend scepticism and take up Barack Obama’s invitation to dream of change, what Middle East can the audacity of hope help to forge?

Forecast: dry, becoming drier

September 2008 – There’s more than enough fresh water in the world to sate our thirst. The problem is getting it to where it is desperately needed.

The Middle East on Biden August 2008 – Does Obama’s choice of running mate mean he’s shaping up to be just another establishment candidate for the White House?

Bridging the road to Damascus

August 2008 – Israeli voters should give their next leader a clear mandate to negotiate an equitable peace with Syria.

Wanted: a gesture from Syria

August 2008 – A return to the negotiating table is encouraging, but Syria will have to make a daring gesture to win Israeli public sympathy.

The human cost of cluster bombs September 2008 – Cluster bombs continue to hurt people and their livelihoods years after they were dropped.

Disarming the bomb in the basement August 2008 – Israel’s weapons policy jeopardises the country’s own security and undermines efforts to create a nuclear-free Middle East.

The ICC and Darfur September 2008 – The ICC indictment of Sudan’s leadership merits a balanced appraisal.