The Politics of Finger Pointing

“We just want to remind people, for those who don’t know what is secularism, secularism doesn’t mean being against God, secularism is just the separation between religion and state, secularism makes all citizens equal before the law with the same rights, secularism leads us from confessionalism to citizenship.”

(Closing remarks on satirical show “CHI NN” on Lebanese Al Jadeed TV, February 4, 2013)

With raging discussions on a new electoral law and civil marriage in recent weeks, the role of religion has once again been brought to the mainstream political debate. The role of religion in politics and our daily lives is certainly nothing new in Lebanon. Continue reading “The Politics of Finger Pointing”

Obama’s Middle East Strategy: A Brief Commentary

Recent events in the Middle East seem to dictate that, at least in the short and medium-terms, America’s hopes of turning increasingly towards Asia in the 21st century do not seem to be anywhere near coming to fruition.  And if there was ever a more pertinent time for a clear-cut and long-term U.S. strategy for the Middle East, it is today.  In light of the region’s ever evolving political landscape, ongoing transitions, ferocious battles and rotting stalemates, America’s role in the region is once again put to the test, with an opportunity to overturn weaknesses and mend past failures. Continue reading “Obama’s Middle East Strategy: A Brief Commentary”

What Turkish Model for the Middle East?

At a time when many argued that democracy was incompatible with the Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East, the Turkish democratic model was always used as the ultimate example to the contrary. Developed in the backdrop of a ruthless military and a fiercely secular tradition, it provided a model that could be easily emulated by its neighbors, given similar societal composition and other commonalities that came with geographic proximity.  But is Turkey the best democratic example for its neighbors to follow? The more I read about Turkey and its recent trajectory, the more I believe the answer is no. Continue reading “What Turkish Model for the Middle East?”