All Hell is still Breaking Loose in the Arab World, Television is just not Reporting it

5. Several center-left parties in Tunisia have formed a centrist party for the next election. The Progressive Democratic Party only got 16 seats in parliament, despite being a popular party, and it is determined to improve its electoral position.

4. Omar Suleiman, the former head of Egyptian military intelligence, has thrown his hat in the ring as a candidate for the presidency. He denies that he is the candidate of the Egyptian military. But a leader of the Jama’at al-Islami said his candidacy is a slap in the face of those who died struggling against the old regime of Hosni Mubarak (Suleiman was close to the old regime).

3. Members of the radical Yemeni Ansar al-Shariah or helpers of Islamic law, attacked a base near the city of Lawdar in Abyan province, killing four soldiers and wounding some ten others.

2. Troops loyal to deposed president Ali Abduallah Saleh who had taken over the airport in Sanaa on Saturday abruptly withdrew from the facility on Sunday, allowing it to reopen. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi had late last week removed several loyalists to the former regime from their posts in the military. He has complained that the former president still uses these commanders to exercise control over the government.

1. The plan for a Syrian ceasefire in fell apart on Sunday. The ruling Baath regime abruptly put a new precondition for withdrawing militarily from the cities in rebellion, saying that first the guerrillas would have to disarm.

7 Responses

  1. We could blame the MS media for lack of coverage is this and other vital areas of the world, but it is “us”, we the people who are to blame because most of us are not interested.\
    Thanks professor for keeping us informed.

  2. The progress of Tunisia since the revolution seems to indicate a reasonable level of success. Looks like the constitution there will end up being reformed successfully. What is needed though is for more of the higher population and centrally located Arab states to experience a similar process. That would create a powerful momentum for improvement in the Middle East. A period of uncertainty and what may look “chaotic” is better than a longer lasting time of stagnation. The changes in Tunisia and Egypt show that political revolution achieved through non-military means are far preferable to guerilla warfare.

    The candidacy of Oman Suleiman is farcical. Other candidates like Ayman Nour may be disqualified on indefensible grounds, but Suleiman is going to be permitted to run despite his problematic past. He cannot win though unless the election outcome is rigged.

  3. This may sound overly optimistic but the Middle East would benefit considerably by establishing something akin to the European Union. Obviously, it is a substantial ways away from being able to do something like that yet but such an entity could perform a useful function in that region. Despite its flaws and the recent economic problems, the EU has helped bring the European countries together in a variety of ways.

    If enough Middle Eastern and North African states became democratic, they could eventually try create and organization focused on joint-solutions so as to help transcend the national, religious, ethnic, and other divisions and forge a more cooperative course. This may take a while before it has any hope of happening but it is something that should be considered as an option.

  4. Steven-
    Wasn’t Nasserite and Ba’athist Pan-Arabism an early attempt to create a regional cooperation system and even a unitary government? It was a miserable failure. Why do you think there is even a possibility for such a thing when the centrifugal forces in the Arab societies seem to have gotten stronger in the last 50 years? Examples are Islamist political movements frightening the Christians and other secularist elements, tribalist fissures in places lik Libya, Iraq and Syria, meddling by outside forces such as Iran and Turkey seeking regional hegemony, etc, etc.

    • I believe Nasserism and pan-Arab nationalism that you speak of was going to ultimately strip the identities of all the different ethnic groups and tribes.

      A similar effort, in the future, that emphasizes the preservation of identity and traditions, and one that is conscious of the loyalty of different groups to distinct regions just might work.

  5. The various pan-Arab movements became too tied to military autocracy and lacked a sufficient connection to those outside the elite to work well. Political consciousness in the region was too low at the point when pan-Arabism was the predominate trend for a higher level of regional cooperation to really succeed. A new order also would need to move beyond excessively focused on nationality, ethnicity, or other forms of identity.

    Right now the Middle East still would not be able to set up something like an EU prototype. However, with the new political wave, there is a possibility than in about two decades things will have changed enough to make it feasible.

    The centrifugal forces can only keep intensifying for so long. At some they too will be seen as a dead end. Democratic change is finally making some more inroads the Middle East and North Africa. It is encountering difficulties in the more artifical states like Libya, Syria, and Iraq but it already has taken hold in Turkey and efforts are underway to implement it in Tunisia and Egypt. If this model does end up proving capable of becoming a prominent reformist magnet for the region, a lot of these problems would be mitigated. Many of the present conflicts are artifically created by various political elites to advance their own agendas.

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