The advent of the internet was groundbreaking, allowing half the planet—from students to scientists—access to an unparalleled amount of information and resources acquired throughout the history of time. It has become an integral part of our lives, revolutionizing trade, ﬁnance, shopping, and banking, while changing the structure of communication and furthering globalization. Today, it is estimated that over4billion people have access to the internet. There are reportedly 6,000 tweets posted every second on Twitter, totaling a whopping 500 million tweets per day. YouTube claims that 400 hours of video are added to its site per minute. Every hour, Facebook’s roughly 2.07 billion users world wide post around 30 million messages.
The internet has given a voice to those who previously had no means of expressing themselves to a wider audience. This phenomenon was ﬁrst observed in 2009, when a Moldovan student protest was organized after cell phone coverage was halted by the government. This was considered the ﬁrst “Twitter revolution.”3 After the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential elections, civilians took to the streets and were able to freely post hundreds of accounts, videos, and photos of clashes that were taking place. In 2011, Egyptians were able to organize, and garner public support, via Twitter in order to bring down the government. However, despite all of these positive uses, there are inherent dangers in the ﬂow of information. This powerful engine of communication has also become a weapon of choice for extremist groups, crime networks, and terrorists, who use it to preach hate, spread dangerous ideologies and propaganda, and incite violence.
Full article here
In mid-June, Syrian and pro-regime forces began what they see as a decisive (and long overdue) campaign in southern Syria aimed at eliminating the rebel resistance within the southern “de-escalation” zone along the Israeli and Jordanian borders. The military campaign involved substantial Syria government forces advised and assisted by Russian military and air force personnel.
The regime and its allies have demonstrated superior military power, which has already “convinced” over 30 towns to return to regime control. Some rebel-controlled cities – Busra al-Sham, the surrounding villages to its south, and al-Jieza – agreed to comply with “reconciliation agreements,” requiring the surrender of arms and removal of key rebel leaders. In contrast to previous agreements, large scale evacuations of the area are to be avoided. However, rebels who contest the deal will be evacuated to the rebel stronghold around Idlib in northeastern Syria, which remains under Turkish supervision. Following the regime and its allies’ conquest of the majority of the northeastern part of the former “reconciliation zone” in Derʿa Province, talks will focus on the remaining rebel territory in Derʿa’s western countryside and the southern half of the city. In the meantime, according to UN estimates, the battles have pushed more than 320,000 people out of their homes, mainly towards the Israeli and Jordanian borders. View full post…
Nir Boms (2018): Israel’s Policy on the Syrian Civil War: Risks and Opportunities, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, DOI: 10.1080/23739770.2017.1430006
The war in Syria, which to date has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced almost half the country’s population, seems to be nearing an end. The Syrian tragedy, which drew in additional actors from throughout the Middle East and the world—paid militias, “volunteers,” and foreign armies—at unprecedented speed, seems to be stabilizing. This has created a new status quo, and will enable a smaller circle to wield control over the state still known as Syria when the smoke of battle ﬁnally clears. In August 2017, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) announced that over 600,000 displaced persons, some 10 percent of the total number of refugees, had already returned to their homes in Syria, many to the city of Aleppo, which, until several months earlier, had symbolized the battles between the weakened rebel camp and the regime forces.1 Syrian tractors are already clearing the way for new roads, and Russian cranes are building a new port terminal, while the Iranians have started constructing a modern “medical city” near Damascus. The year 2017 is also ending with Syria’s conquest (aided by Hizbullah)of the village of Beit Jann, one of the more signiﬁcant pockets of resistance supported by Israel.
Nir T. Boms, Expat-ing Democracy: Dissidents, Technology and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East, (Bern: Peter Lang Publishers, 2017), 246 pp.
The upheavals throughout the Middle East in 2010-2011, popularly known as the â€œArab Spring,â€ changed the political paradigm throughout the region. For several decades, gradual political and economic changes were the norm and the political paradigm seemed to be fixed. The sudden regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt, however, reverberated in Syria, Iran, Bahrain and elsewhere. Nothing has remained the same. Hence, the importance and timeliness of Dr. Nir T. Boms’s study, Expat-ing Democracy.
A research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and the vice president of the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), Dr. Boms offers both academic and scholarly expertise and an approach of practical application. His book presents a penetrating analysis of the nature of the events and causes which led to the upheaval and the political and social consequences of these transformations in the Middle East. He discusses aspects of the â€œArab Springâ€ which have not appeared in other scholarship on the subject. This is the result of his unique selection of sources which includes surveys conducted by the author over a period of several years and interviews with individuals active in attempting to implement the democratic process in the region. As both an observer and a participant, Boms encouraged the activists whom he interviewed. His initiatives in humanitarian projects, such as assistance to people stranded in Southern Syria, provided him with a rare opportunity of building a network of activists who are directly involved in social and civic initiatives for democracy. Ex-pating Democracy not only presents the content of the interviews but also describes the circumstances under which they were conducted. Therefore, the book is informative, original and exciting. View full post…