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?”

Battle of the Beards

In the aftermath of the events in Saida last week, pitting Sheikh Ahmad Al Assir in direct confrontation with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the only thing that I could think about was my next blog post. I came up with what I believed was the best title for it, as used herewith[1]. However, I seemed unable to fill the post with anything other than the usual, yet always valid, criticism of the absurdity of Lebanese politics and the way we always seem to swiftly move against the current of modern times (so much so that we could earn yet another pathetic Guinness record for it).

Continue reading “Battle of the Beards”

Failure of the Arab Revolution?

Nobody with the smallest amount of common sense should disagree that the reactions to the “Innocence of Islam” movie were simply senseless. Of course, it could have remained violent and lawless, had it not been for the sad unfolding of events in Benghazi, which led reactions into the realm of the criminal. Much has already been written and said in this regard. But what got me thinking are some commentators’ views and articles in the Western press suggesting that the violence witnessed in the past days signals some sort of failure of the Arab Spring or Arab Revolutions, if only because the most severe violence is taking place in post-revolution countries. Continue reading “Failure of the Arab Revolution?”