PhD Proposal: Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring


 

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Research Questions, Hypotheses & Variables:

Why did the Arab Spring affect states differently? What accounts for these differences in outcome? This article seeks to address that very question.

In this research, I extend “Wimmer et al’s” model of ethnic conflict & exclusion to include ethno-religious groups in the Middle East. Ample literature has been written on the consequences of minority rule, especially in the Middle East, but there is little research on ethno-religious exclusion as the source of national instability. The typical variables considered are foreign intervention, religiosity or authoritarianism. My argument is that some states are more or less politically developed than others, and as such, exhibit a more sophisticated system that at the very least represents the majority ethnic fabric of the nation-state. Exclusive states tend to be less developed politically, and as such disenfranchise ethnic majorities leading to more instability.

Continue reading “PhD Proposal: Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring”

Turkey – Clarity Amidst Confusion


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It is really hard to get a grip of what is really happening in Turkey.

Media outlets are misleading as usual.

Political interests are at stake and biases are rampant.

It appears Erdogan has retaken power, resisted the coup, and is now in the process of an apparent legal prosecution against all involved.

This is where things are getting murky.

Erdogan hasn’t played the most loyal role as president, often shifting back and forth between extreme left and right politics. This inconsistency is symbolic of Turkey’s state of volatility and instability in the past two decades.

There is much that modern media consumers do not know about international politics. Turkey has endured nearly five coup d’etats in its history. This is the 6th.

What people don’t understand is that democracy can be bought, financially or ideologically, or both. That does not mean that democracy is bad, but that it can be easily infiltrated and exploited to destabilize and cause disorder.

There are many narratives.

Which one is actually feasible and most likely?

Remember that America is the world’s sole superpower, and that it dictates most of what happens internationally. This coup might have been instigated by the US as a result of Erdogan’s policies particularly towards Syria. Anytime a leader of a non-western country becomes influential, he is a perceived threat to the US, even if he has for the most part fallen in line with their demands. Remember Saddam Hussein was initially an American ally against radicalism. But why would America see Erdogan as a threat if he has been, for the most part, enabling the NATO agenda of supplying the Syrian insurgency?

There is a vast difference between rhetoric and reality.

America is playing the game of destabilization once again, but did Erdogan’s team just resist? The irony is that just weeks ago Erdogan had reversed foreign policy and initiated a rapprochement with Russia and Israel, a huge statement to the international community.

When Erdogan first became president he was hailed as the new face of Islamic dignity. At least, that was my interpretation.

He defied Israel with the Gaza flotilla. He embarrassed Simon Perez live on television in the name of Palestinian rights. He bolstered Turkey as a democratic, modern, Islamic nation. He further secured Turkey’s potential integration into the E.U.

What went wrong?

The Syrian conflict created a disaster. A refugee crisis, increased security threat, ideological fundamentalism & terrorism. Providing weaponry to the insurgency and mobility intensified the ripple effects.

Meanwhile, Erdogan was becoming increasingly authoritarian domestically, contrary to his democratic foundations. Aside from the right-wing populist rhetoric, Erdogan began initiating limits on women’s rights & press freedom, two bedrocks of democracy, but perhaps more importantly, two bedrocks of Turkish cultural history.

Naivety cannot be afforded in politics, and perhaps Erdogan was naive to Western interests. Neither democracy nor stability are the West’s priorities, but rather control.

That is why it must be understood that democracy or not, no country can be truly free or stable without respecting its sovereignty.

At this point, we may never know the actual perpetrators, and we will be confused by political rhetoric and unsubstantial media coverage.

What we can know is that even democracies have the potential to violate rights.

There are several possible outcomes depending on who is responsible. I believe Erdogan’s Turkey possesses the power to make serious challenges to Western assertiveness in the region. So far he has expressed willingness to cooperate, up until the recent rapprochement with Russia and Israel.

The most crucial variable in this “coup d’etat attempt” is the “Syrian Crisis”.

Turkey is headed in the opposite direction of NATO.

I think this Turkish crisis gives us the perfect opportunity to address a commonly oversimplified term: “democracy”.

We tend to view things as “democratic or not”, when in reality, democracy is a measure itself, of the ability of a nation to uphold certain principles. Since those principles are hotly debated, it becomes difficult to categorize things as “democratic or not”.

This Turkish crisis is symbolic of the fact that there is a real tension over the definition of “democracy”. Oversimplified understandings will highlight obvious components of democracy like free speech, free elections, term limits – but what about social liberalism, like the freedom of social expression, or, on the other hand, political stability and human security. From this perspective, if we look at the world’s countries, we must gauge the overall relationship between leader and people. This relationship shows how “democratic” a country is. It cannot be understood as solely popular support, because in some cases, more than not, populism leads to immoral decisions, domestically and internationally, like “Brexit” in the UK or the rise of Donald Trump in the US. We cannot accept

Some kings are good. Some are bad.

Some elected officials are good. Some are bad.

The problem is that, elections were largely seen as a check on absolute power.

But what if a democrat becomes an autocrat through authoritarian policies and populist appeals?

What is this begins to compromise democratic ideals themselves? Do executive term limits themselves guarantee democracy, or are other components, like free speech, equally important?

If we analyze the world from this angle, we begin to see that, in some cases, the democracy has let to good results; in other bad ones. But to expect that any one country in the world is more democratic than another, we have to analyze it comparatively from all the variables, not just one. Furthermore we cannot measure good or bad based on a twisted conception of democracy or on a prejudiced or predisposed political opinion.

It was likely that Turkey’s attempted coup was a “check” on Erdogan. If he drifts towards a less expansive, and security-driven policy initiative

Could that have been the spark?

All these inconsistencies further blurs the picture.

Why were police officers arresting military personnel? Aren’t the latter more powerful?

If Fethullah, the supposed engineer of the coup according to Erdogan, is in America, how could he have ushered the coup if the US administration stood on the side of Erdogan?

Was this coup staged by the government to bolster fledgling support for Erdogan?

Seeing as how Erdogan is now appealing to post-Syrian Crisis enemies, like Russia for reconciliation, it might be that this coup was a Western backed attempt at a regime-change. Seeing that Turkey’s military has never successfully failed in ushering a coup, this narrative makes sense.

For the sake of democracy this is not good, as dissidents face an increasing and brutal crackdown. Turkey has not been consistent, and this crisis is a product of that position. It has essential played the position of the “rope” in a long tug-o-war between East and West. For the past few centuries, the West tugged harder. Now it seems, they’ve let loose on their grip, and Turkey appears destined towards an alignment with the East.

What does this mean for America and Europe’s interests in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi (the Gulf entirely)?

Another question that comes to mind – where do the millions of democracy advocates who stood with Erdogan stand now, considering his rapprochement with Russia? Many Erdogan supporters supported his stance against President Assad in Syria.

This is where things get murkier.

Erdogan was initially reconciliatory with Assad. Why the sudden shift, particularly given the “Kurdish threat” and rising instability? Erdogan sent a message of defiance to Israel with his Gaza flotilla charade, but then quickly announced reconciliation. How does this make him look? Who really is Erdogan serving – Turkey or himself?

Another possibility is that Erdogan has awoken from his pro-American slumber of naivety. Once again, the Muslim world fell prey to American double-dealing and mischief. If this is the likely scenario, expect the unexpected – an Erdogan-led drift away from democracy in Turkey.

What are the most important elements of democracy? Popular opinion or social equality? If popular opinion advocates for racism, like in Nazi Germany, should the state reject it? These questions are even being asked in America, where right-wing populism also threatens democratic rule – somehow democratically. Are there flaws in the democratic system which are inherent or can they be fixed through greater laws limiting financial influence, media coverage and xenophobic propaganda?

Populism is threatening democracy which suggests that popular sovereignty isn’t the only variable for democracy – there are many. And one of these becomes threatened, it appears none of them will be possible. Erdogan, a democratically elected leader, began trampling on democratic rights, and thus the military, which historically overthrows leaders who drift to far in either direction on the political spectrum, stepped in though without success – also unprecedented.

Whether or not popular rule triumphs in Turkey is less worrying than the potential compromise of Turkey’s traditional culture of tolerance, diversity and secularism. This is being threatened by the extreme right-wing populist appeals of ruling party. In this regard, Erdogan is bad for Turkey. Will he rollback these efforts too as part of his readjustment initiative? It doesn’t appear that Erdogan’s reconciliatory tone towards Russia or even Israel is genuine, since it has been inconsistent. There is reason to believe that such behavior is an act of desperation – a sign of his impending failure.

In order for global stability, peace and prosperity to ensue, the following must happen – led by the only world superpower – the US:

America as a whole must pivot from its half-century long trend of foreign interventionism; replace it with respect for sovereignty; a rejection of populism and neoliberalism/neoconservatism or simply put – neo-imperialism; recognition of cultural distinctions; and a promotion of cooperative political, economic and social relations.

This might have to see the UN become the global spectator; with the US leading the free world; and cooperating with other global and regional powers to ensure prosperity, stability and peace.

Secularizing the Conversation on the Occupation of Palestine


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Secularizing the conversation on the Palestinian genocide, actually threatens the pro-Israeli argument. It has to. Israel, by nature, is a religious entity — despite efforts by any spokesperson to suggest otherwise.

Secularizing the conversation on the conflict between Palestinian nationalism & international occupation, deems Israel a theocratic apartheid-state.

Secularization, by nature, requires religious & cultural diversity, egalitarianism and in contrast, rejects elitism, exclusivism & bigotry.

Palestinians outnumber the populations of Israelis by almost 4 million. Arabs outnumber the Jews. And yet, the State of Israel, which represents the minority population, protected by self-righteous Western colonialists, remains probably the only Middle Eastern country that is part of the 1st world, with flee-flowing goods, access to technology, industry and mobility within the international economic community. The majority, the Palestinian nation, made up largely of Arabs, Armenians, Jews, Muslims & Christians, are left largely disenfranchised from the entire conversation, deeming the State of Israel an apartheid-entity, comparable to South Africa.

Can America, Israel, or any one of the countries in the international community which claim — self-righteously — to be a ‘full-fledged’ democracies put their money where their mouth is? Because I wonder: how can a democracy exist within the confines of a nation-state if it is constantly trading & doing business with corrupt non-democratic states, like Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, Russia & Qatar?

The self-righteous attitude which gives the US (& Europe) the audacity to criticize foreign countries for their “non-democratic values” serves as the premise for imperialism & economic inequality in the world. America’s entire economy thrives off Chinese pseudo-communism. How can we claim to be the democratic police of the world?

In the 21st century we continue to falsely imprison our own citizens, kill & permit racism towards our own people — how can we make this bold claim?

The Republican Party’s unrelenting support for Israel has strangled US foreign policy largely up until the election of President Obama who has to some degree casted a grey cloud over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The rise of ISIS has prompted further inquiry into the role played by US allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Israel in the spread of fundamentalism in the region, which has been exporting itself to the West since the 1970s for the most part. Monarchy is Saudi Arabia is comparable to Israeli-apartheid in Palestine. The Gulf country is largely responsible for rise in pseudo-Islamic terrorism. It is one of the few countries that continues to maintain a behind-the-doors type of agreement with Israel and major world powers, “oil-for-weapons”, as it is called.

It happens to be that jihadis work well with Israel because like Israelis they are paid agents working to serve the cause of colonialism and distortion of reality by associating attacks with religion. In fact terrorists of “Islamist” and “Zionist” persuasion slander both religions. Neither religion, in essence, would endorse irrational violence. The bond between jihadis and Zionists in close, exemplified in the Faisal-Weissman agreement, a formal document which recognizes the Jewish right to existence in mandatory Palestine under a new state called Israel. The extreme version of the Jewish narrative for a return to ancient Israel sits well with many of the Middle East’s despotic monarchs and tyrannical governments — often propped up by Western governments themselves.

Secularizing the conversation on the conflict also means that I will place a noticeable effort to avoid referring to the political entity as Israel but rather as the modern, 21st century colonial-outpost of the West & broader imperial global elite. I will refer to groups like Hezbollah as military organizations, and I will make the distinction clear between Hezbollah, an organized nationalistic, military-resistance initiative  versus pseudo-Islamic terrorist networks working for foreign agents such as ISIS, al-Qaeda & al-Nusra. These will be referred to as such so as to prevent the slandering of Islam as well as the legitimization of arbitrary colonialism disguised as “international security initiatives”.

Furthermore I would also like to make the point that the Zionism’s greatest source of support doesn’t come from Jews. Firstly, American Jews are largely disenchanted with Israel. Secondly, the Jewish community in Israel is comparatively minute. So where does the immense support for Zionism come from? The elite must garner support from an ignorant mass. Seeing as how religion and extremist ideology are the best tools for collective sedation and rallying.

Christian-Zionism emanates mainly from the US & parts of the European continent. It is resembles ideologies like fascism, Messianism, Bolshevism, nazism, militant-atheism, anarcho-capitalism & Wahhabism. Based on the common denominator of superiority, these groups reflect one another’s violent intolerance.

A question to the ADL. I applaud what you stand for. Can I ask:

Is it not possible to refrain from associating anti-semitic discrimination of any kind with social activism against apartheid? Are the two not mutually exclusive?

Final thoughts:

The world expects Israel’s desperate search for/protection of a homeland after the horrors of the Holocaust to take precedence over the Palestinians’ right to self-determination…and will make their right to existence more important than Palestine’s. Settlement-expansion does not convince anyone of the possibility of an actual two-state solution (completely delegitimized). Furthermore the religious & post-WWII argument for the existence of a Jewish state still does not provide a moral, logical solution to the problem of Palestinian self-determination & human rights. This suggests a failure on the part of the international community to properly address the Jewish question of state-hood. The religious narrative coupled with history shows that the Jews have been well-established themselves in various nations of prominence for centuries, in Russia, the US, France, the UK, Argentina & Brazil. Pre & Post-Holocaust, the Jews enjoyed affluence, equality & prominence. Why the need for an extended colony if it requires a second holocaust of an entire nation, the Palestinians? Furthermore, the triumph of democracy in the twentieth century over fascism & anti-semitism shows that despite isolated incidents, the West remains a safe haven for semites of all backgrounds.

References:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2015/02/israelis_and_arabs_contested_history_victims_don_t_have_the_right_to_rewrite.html

ISLAMISM = ZIONISM


[REFERENCE ARTICLE HERE: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/29/the-sheikh-who-wants-to-put-the-hurt-on-hezbollah-in-lebanon.html]

ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood.

All of these claim to be muslim organizations aimed at ‘liberating men from tyranny’.

Who chose you and what tyranny are you liberating me from? How do I know you yourself are not a tyranny?

Hezbollah is hated by many sunnis thanks to a very successful pro-sunni propagation machine initiated mainly by the Gulf. Hezbollah is viewed as an extension of Iran, and even Syria, and ultimately, as a representation of ‘heresy’ that leads only to slavery.

The Muslim Brotherhood is often viewed as the victim of disenfranchisement and in Syria, socialism and Ba’athism, prevented this group from gaining freedom.

The conflict between socialism and capitalism – I believe – has been manifested here.

The Islamists claim to be fighting for freedom, yet want to institute a system that subjugates freedom for the sake of religion. Hezbollah claims to be resisting Israeli occupation and Western imperialism. Syria is a battleground for these two ideologies; Palestine, Egypt & Lebanon too. In fact, the entirety of the Middle East has been turned into the global battleground of competing ideologies thanks to Western imperialists and their cohorts.

It is pretty clear that groups of right-wing persuasion are supported by the strongest power house of Islamism in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, which also happens to be Israel’s quiet little bitch, sitting idly as Palestinians are murdered, claiming to be a beacon of ‘pure’ Islam.

Iran is viewed as the ‘kfir’ (or heretic, in arabic) of the Middle East simply because of its sympathy for cultural diversity and artistry as well as its reluctance to submit to the influence of zionism, western imperialism and eastern expansionism.

Right now, Israel is more desperate than ever to legitimize its illegitimate and irrational religious existence in the heartland of the Middle East – and what better way to do that than to prop up a bunch of radicalized islamist groups that seek to delegitimize the genuine voice of the muslim people and the arab people as a whole, and the rest of the Middle East. ISIS is the new al Qaeda – it’s just going to be harder to deceive the average global citizen in today’s world. Bush’s WMD lies and 9/11 were our eye openers.

 

President Bashar al-Assad delivers speech on January 10th, 2012


The following is my written version of the speech delivered by President Bashar al-Assad on January 10th, 2012.

We try to encourage awareness in the country.

Still, there is some ignorance in the country effecting conditions here…

Internal reforms are clear. Progress and advancement should still carry on.

What is happening in Syria is being planned. It is part of a plan that has been hatched for the last 10 years, the Sykes-Picot plan.

Defeating Syria is not necessarily by military means, but by making us look backwards, by making us ignore the palestinian cause.

Their objective is to show Syria interested in regional issues but not showing its Arab responsibilities, to harm Syrian identity and culture.

They will not succeed to destroy our identity.

The battle against terrorism is not a battle of the state, it is a battle of all of us.

Syria will remain steadfast and strong.

A strong country knows when and how to be tolerant.

As long as we can hit the terrorists we can bring the people who have gone astray back to the straight path.

They were pushed towards crime, but a good state will give people the opportunity to come back to the right path.

We amnestied a number of prisoners.

Some people think this led to more crime, but the reality was opposite, there was positive results.

We asked people to help their sons and bring them to the right path.

We dialogue with all forces except criminals whose hands are stained with blood.

Our people who are affected by intellectual blindness – they really think that they are revolutionaries.

What have they done? How can we describe them?

Can you show me a rebel that steals a car, pillages a house?

For me a revolutionary is positive, is right.

These people have killed people.

Can a revolutionary be described as a coward?

They prevented schools from carrying on education!

The level of education in the country has now dropped to half the percentage.

Lecturers are putting their lives in danger to carry on their work.

At the end of 2011, the number of martyred-lecturers was 30; number of schools pillaged 1,000.

On your behalf I would like to salute all the lecturers and administrators.

Is it possible to have a revolution against knowledge, eduation, national unity?

Is it possible to define a revolutionary who deprives people of gas, food?

This is not a revolution!

Is it possible that a revolutionary should work for an enemy?

Is it possible for a revolutionary to be a traitor?

But the main question that I was asked was: When can this and how can this end?

We cannot give answers. This is a difficult question.

The plot will finish when the Syrian people decided to turn into a weak and submissive people, when we forego our nationalist stance, when we submit our nationalist stance on the Palestinian cause, when we give up our Golan Heights, when we ignore the massacres in our country…whether the Arab League will see into this problem, I don’t think so.

We cannot give up Syrian dignity!

This will end when smuggling of arms and funds stops.

This is linked to the first one – when we give in is when we give up.

The conspiracy stops when we defeat it

The question of when the conspiracy will end is when we defeat it internally, politically.

Our awareness will defeat the plot. When we return to wisdom.

Syria is a very strong country, but strength is not unending.

A strong person declines with age.

Debt and collapse is not inevitable.

We cannot fight off terrorism as long as chaos carries on.

Immunity is weakened when national awareness is weakened.

I would like to tell people there is an international conspiracy, there are arms being smuggled. The situation is now clear. This terrorism cannot happen over night.

The kind of arms they use, the geography they operate on.

People know what is happening.

What is important is that we should stand side by side when this is a national issue. But when the country is threatened, states and countries unite and stand side by side.

There is no such thing as I am in the middle or I am sitting on the fence. We should sit side by side. We should put our differences aside.

Can anybody say that the policy on combatting terrorism is wrong.

When we go back to 70s and 80s, when terrorists used Islam to legitimize terrorism…we put an end to them because the people stood with the State. We don’t want to carry on like that.

This is a race between terrorism and reforms.

Terrorists don’t want reforms.

The issue is that of terrorism.

We stress on respecting the law because we stress on protecting the innocent

The majority of the Syrians who are dying are innocent.

They are killing the Syrian people.

We should Unite. We should be decisive.

But how can the citizen stand with the State?

The army entered a city occupied by terrorists.

The citizens of that city helped protect the army.

We have so many means, we should start today, a direct dialogue between officials and security forces in cities, so that we can establish security over all Syrian land.

My position right now is of National Reconciliation.

At the beginning of the crisis people suggested National Reconciliation.

At the end of the crisis everyone will forgive everyone.

Revenge will not bring positive results. Revenge will not help this country.

It is from this feeling that National Reconciliation comes.

National Reconciliation will be done through awareness not through amnesty.

This is a national situation that should be linked to laws.

All these measures, reforms, confrontations and complex situations, for us to succeed, we should warn those who are being psychologically weakened, if they succeed,

The Syrian people will not sell their dignity and honour for money.

I am not just saying this. We supplied Syrian wheat and grain to four Arab countries when they had nothing.

And it is us who developed its industries in the 80s without any reserves.

And we paid our debts

The young generation – do not let fear enter your heart.

Syrian has gone through a more difficult situation than now, and it came out victorious.

Today, we are capable of turning this all into an asset if we think scientifically and collectively.

We should not allow a minority to abuse a situation.

We should focus on immediate and small term industries and small trade.

We should create employment opportunities and we should not divide the kind of crowd we seek.

We should have social justice and not to affect the small businessman and trader.

Traders should be encouraged and protected.

Despite all these difficulties, farming in Syria has achieved a great deal and the farmers and the workers in the field are continuing their work, but I think more attention should be given to these people.

In the psychological war against Syria, they have failed on the Sectarian issue.

They are now embarking on a economic war.

The criteria is the level of production in Syria. We have become a producing country. We can actually increase our production in this crisis.

The debt in Syria is very small. Our relations with other countries have not stopped.

We are fifth in the world in the production of olives. We are small country but to be 5th in the world is a great thing.

We should organize the economic operation and be able to move forward even now.

For us, the West, we cannot deny that it is important. The West today is not the West a few weeks ago. But the West is not the oxygen we use to breath. It is not our safety net. We can swim alone, and with our brothers. That is why since 2005 we turned to the East. The West remains colonialist.

They use different methods but they are the same.

Relations with most countries with Syria are excellent.

Some European countries still maintain good relation with Syria.

The citizen’s consumption is decreasing.

I call on unity and cooperation from all so that we are faithful to the legacy of the citizen.

Despite all this complex situation, my faith and trust in the future is great. It stems from you, dignity, honor.

You promised me, when there is a challenge against Syria, we are all one.

Our people have proved their dignity and heritage.

Attacking Syria did not harm its dignity.

We’ll not allow a small group who sold their soul to the devil to destroy Syria.

My trust in this stems from you, the men in the armed forces, conscience and bravery of the people.

I extend my salutations while they are protecting the honor of this country, the blood of our martyrs, which are the basis of our country will be the basis of the construction of a new Syria.

We are determined to face up to them!

People of this great nation, I salute you, from all walks of life, unity, friendship, against the hatred leveled against this country.

Honor to the pure people who refuse to submit.