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The first drops of winter rain reached the Middle East this week, perhaps another reminder of the end of what we have dubbed thus far as the “Arab Spring.” Much has happened since last December when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and triggered a wave of protest that engulfed the entire Middle East. On the one hand, the “spring” can be seen as a resounding success: Protests have brought about a change in leadership in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and significant reforms in Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, and elsewhere in the region. Moreover, Tunisia has just declared Oct 23rd as the election date for its parliament and Saudi Arabia just announced that women will be able to vote in the next municipal elections (though only for half of the seats there – but progress nevertheless). Elections are also expected in Egypt and, later, in Libya and Morocco.
Continue reading “Democracy at Stake: Options for a “Spring” Aftermath”
By Nir Boms & Elliot Chodoff
The demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt caught most of us by surprise. Revolutions often do. Sir Anthony Parsons, the British ambassador in Tehran, declared in 1978 that “there has been little or no evidence of unrest among the urban poor.” Shortly after, Iranians poured into the streets and deposed the Shah.
A decade later, the U.S. was shocked by the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, another revolution from within. In October 2000, several hundred thousand people protested against Slobodan Milosevic, who was arrested by Serbian police six months later and eventually prosecuted for war crimes. In 2003, Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze attempted to steal an election, and the people prevented him from opening a new session of parliament in what came to be known as the Rose Revolution. The Ukrainian Orange Revolution followed a year later, with half a million people marching to protest election fraud, corruption, and repression.
But not all marches end successfully. In 1989, the People’s Republic of China had little tolerance for the 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Tiananmen Square following the funeral of Hu Yaobang, a popular Communist leader who believed in political and economic reforms. Lebanon is still held hostage despite its million-man freedom march in 2005. Iran has learned its lesson: Repeated attempts at revolution — including that of the students in 1999 and the Green Movement of 2009 — have been crushed with high casualties. In Egypt, Syria, Libya, and even Morocco, popular protests have been quickly crushed.
Continue reading “The Tunisian Revolution: Virtual Voices Made a Real Difference”
מה בין לוחמת הרשת שהונחתה על אתרי האינטרנט של ממשלת גיאורגיה בחודש שעבר, ובין חיסולם ביריות של עיתונאים ברחובות? על חופש ביטוי ומסורתה החיה של הקג”ב
ניב ליליאן, ניר בומס
(הרשת התיכונה, YNET)
בעוד הטנקים של רוסיה מסרבים לסגת סופית מאוסטיה, ובעוד העולם מנסה למנוע את תחילתה של עוד מלחמה קרה, שדומה והחלה עם הכרזתה של רוסיה על מכירת נוספת של נשק לאיראן לאור עמדתה של ארה”ב כלפי המשבר, דומה שנכתבו עוד כמה פרקים בעימות המתוקשר הזה, עימות שמזכיר ימים אפלים קצת יותר.
Continue reading “מאחורי צג הברזל”
By Nir Boms
(Lecture notes given in Melbourne, Australia)
The main domestic objective of most Middle Eastern governments is to maintain the status quo regarding the balance between citizen freedoms and oppression.
Opposition movements can be roughly divided into two main groups: Islamist opposition, which think the governments are too secular, and the democratic or reform-minded opposition.
The Islamists seek to replace governments, but the democrats are not yet in that position. They seek reforms, the creation of greater freedoms and the like. There is an inherent difference between the ability of these two groups to achieve – or go about achieving – their goals; radicals are more focused in their objectives, and have easily defined goals. Intellectuals generally do not, nor do they have the infrastructure (such as mosques, access to money, etc.) to support their objectives.
Continue reading “DISCOURSE OF CHANGE”