Whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden
and Julian Assange
are hounded – not by autocratic but by democratic governments – for revealing the truth about grave human rights violations. Nobel peace prize winner, writer and political activist Liu Xiaobo
is currently languishing in a Chinese prison while the killing of Egyptian protestor, poet and mother Shaimaa al-Sabbagh
, apparently by a masked policeman, in January this year continues to haunt us.
President Barack Obama’s Nowroz greeting to the Iranian people earlier this year was the first clear indication to the world that the United States and Iran were very close to agreement on the contents of the nuclear agreement they had been working towards for the previous 16 months.
The results of a survey
of what 3,500 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 – in all Arab countries except Syria – feel about the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa have just been released.
This year, Arab political Islam will be greatly influenced by U.S. regional policy, as it has been since the Obama administration came into office six years ago. Indeed, as the U.S. standing in the region rose with Obama’s presidency beginning in January 2009, so did the fortunes of Arab political Islam.
For a moment, four years ago, it seemed that dictators in the Middle East would soon be a thing of the past.
The Oct. 23 attack on the Canadian Parliament building by a Canadian who had converted to Islam just a month earlier should create some interest in why an increasing number of young people are willing to sacrifice their lives for a radical view of Islam.
As the Egyptian revolution against Hosni Mubarak celebrates its third anniversary, the military junta under General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is resurrecting dictatorship under the veneer of “constitutional” legitimacy and on the pretense of fighting “terrorism.”
At this time of hope for what the new year may bring, it would be useful to look at the legacy we carry with us from the year we leave behind. It was a year full of events - wars, rising social inequality, unchecked finance, the decline of political institutions, and the erosion of global governance.
At a small pet shop in an upscale Cairo neighbourhood, puppies, kittens and sickly-looking parakeets occupy the cages behind the storefront window. But if you want more exciting and exotic animals – such as crocodiles or lion cubs - just ask behind the counter.
Thousands of opposition activists have protested in central Tunis, demanding the resignation of Tunisia's Islamist-led government, before a national dialogue aimed at ending months of political deadlock.
The end of the world’s most enduring conflict was always regarded as the essential linchpin of Mideast security. As direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians resume following a three-year hiatus, it seems too late for peace between them - if the declared goal of a peace deal within nine months is achieved - to end the violence unleashed by the ‘Arab springs’.
On Aug. 14, the 42nd
anniversary of Bahrain’s independence from Britain, an online group called Tarmarod (“rebellion” in Arabic) officially joined Bahrain’s democracy movement that began in February 2011.
Tunisia was plunged into political strife when opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated late last month, triggering widespread pro- and anti-government demonstrations across the country. In the days since his death the North African nation has faced a further series of terrorist attacks that have threatened to destabilise a country seen as a model for post-revolution democracy in the region.
Kenyan police are said to be investigating the rise of a group dubbed the March 4th Movement (M4M), which aims to make Kenya ungovernable by recruiting youths to take part in protests, similar to those that saw Egyptians overthrow their president. But politicians and analysts here say they do not foresee the movement capable of creating an East African Spring.
Nearly two-and-a-half years since the toppling of the autocratic regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in the first regime change of the now famous Arab Spring, the high expectations of change to come with the revolution have hardly been met.