1. ‘I wish I could die’: Meeting the man who helped trigger the Arab Spring – Clemens Höges, Spiegel Online International, Jan. 21

“The acts of desperation quickly transformed into a political hurricane. It swept along Africa’s Mediterranean coast and up to the Turkish border. Dictators were overthrown, new rulers came to power and Islamists and terrorists spread across the region. Countries collapsed and hundreds of thousands died, and are still dying, in civil wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen. The offshoots of this storm have also reached Europe, in the form of mass immigration and terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul.

And what for? ‘It was all a mistake,’ says Kaliya. ‘I didn’t know what would happen. I no longer believe in the revolution.'”

2. Your candidate probably won’t destroy ISIS – Joel Veldkamp, In All Things, Jan. 27

“In deciding which candidate to support for president, American Christians should reflect on this history. I believe that there are only two morally and strategically sound approaches to the Islamic State: Either 1) a full-scale military, economic, and humanitarian effort – much more intense than the occupation of Iraq – to destroy the Islamic State’s state, protect the people of the region, and bring some measure of peace and prosperity, or 2) a complete end to reckless military intervention in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and everywhere else in the Middle East, and a humanitarian commitment to refugees fleeing the Islamic State’s attacks. We need to either take responsibility or stay out.

At the moment, I do not see any candidate saying anything like this.”

3. You won’t like it, but here’s the answer to ISIS – Peter Van Buren, Common Dreams, Jan. 16

“So here’s what you might suggest that your candidate do, because you know that s/he will demand to ‘do something.’

Start by suggesting that, as a society, we take a deep look at ourselves, our leaders, and our media, and stop fanning everyone’s flames. It’s time, among other things, to stop harassing and discriminating against our own Muslim population, only to stand by slack-jawed as a few of them become radicalized, and Washington then blames Twitter. As president, you need to opt out of all this, and dissuade others from buying into it.

As for the Islamic State itself, it can’t survive, never mind fight, without funds. So candidate, it’s time to man/woman up, and go after the real sources of funding.”

4. The Vatican’s Middle East Politics: Why the Pope partners with Iran – Victor Gaetan, Foreign Affairs, Dec. 9, 2015

“As for the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, it sees Iran as an indispensable player that can bring about an end to the Syrian conflict. ‘Iran is an integral part of the…negotiation that can lead to peace or, at least, the immediate cessation of violence in the Middle East…in particular, with regard to Syria,’ said the pope’s representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva. In fact, at the end of November, the Vatican consecrated Bishop Sarkis Davidian to serve Armenian Catholics in Isfahan, Iran—a post vacant since 2005. Davidian was born in Aleppo, one of the largest Christian cities in the Middle East until the war. He says his mission is to ‘cooperate for peace,’ which means negotiating with key regional players like Iran, which supports the Assad regime, and is also a trusted protector of its own Christian minority.”

5. Why Arabs looks toward Egypt, again – Rami Khouri, The Daily Star, Jan. 27

“Egypt remains the critical country to watch for signs of this happening, because it has the human talent, the national coherence, and the burden of being a leader in the Arab world in whatever it does – whether Arab nationalism, politicized religion, terrorism, military rule, cultural vibrancy, intellectual ferment, economic mismanagement, civil society activism and everything else in between.

Just as Egypt in January 2011 shook up the entire Arab world, so must Egypt now regain its senses and define the route to a restored stability. This it can do through legitimate and pluralistic governance based on a social contract anchored in national consensus, rather than the military authoritarianism that has wreaked havoc across the region since 1952.”

6. The Arab winter – The Economist, Jan. 9

“In 2010, six months before the protests in Tahrir Square turned into the uprising (even Egyptian enthusiasts are now shy of calling it a revolution) that ousted Mr Mubarak, this newspaper warned of looming change in Egypt and suggested that there were three ways in which it might play out. The country might, like Iran in 1979, experience a popular revolution which would then be hijacked by Islamists. Like Turkey in the 2000s, it might become a genuine, if shaky and flawed, democracy, one with the power needed to tame the military-backed “deep state”. Or, like Russia, it might suffer a Putinist putsch, with the deep state reasserting control under a new strongman.

We were too parsimonious. Egypt has, in a jumbled fashion, experienced not just one but all three of these outcomes. Its revolutionaries did overcome, if briefly, the security forces that underpinned Mr Mubarak’s rule. Egyptians then voted in a government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood—a government which, rather than shrinking the deep state, tried instead to insert party loyalists into its depths. (As it happens, this is also what Turkey’s Islamist-leaning government has been doing since 2011, with rather more success.) Popular anger against the Islamists, stoked and nurtured by the deep state, then brought Egypt to the Russian option in a soft coup that saw Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, a general and the minister of defence, installed as president in June 2013.

Two and a half years later, Mr Sisi’s counter-revolution appears all but complete.”

Posted by Griffin Paul Jackson

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