Book Review Expat-ing Democracy: Dissidents, Technology, and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East by Nir T. Boms (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2016), 246 pages
Reviewed by Patrycja Sasnal Director, Middle East and North Africa Project, Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw
Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2017
Looking at events around the world, one can not escape the impression that despite the monumental leap forward in communications technology and its availability, politically, we have taken a step into the unknown: the world of post-truth politics where information may no longer hold the central place of importance it once did. Disseminators of “alternative facts” meddling in elections; auto-censorship in private, yet government-friendly media; ideological wars fought via social media—these are phenomena whose political consequences we must face without fully understanding them. Meanwhile, since the 2011 upheavals in the Arab world, counterrevolutionary forces have reconquered most states in the region (but for the bright exception of Tunisia), with terrifying results in war torn Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
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When the ground is ready to burn, a small spark might be enough to start a fire.
Dominoes, the game presented to Chinese emperor Hui Tsung in the 12th century, traveled slowly before it finally reached the Middle East. These days, however, it appears to be the game of the hour – starting in Tunisia and Egypt, cascading through Yemen, Libya and Bahrain, and now in Syria.
The Middle East’s reality, however, is not a game, but a struggle for survival. Like the old emperors of China, the remaining old guards – the voices of the past – are desperately fighting against their own people, who seek a different future. And the voices of the past appear clearly aligned. It was Syrian Air Force pilots who were flying some of the MiG fighter jets ordered to attack rebel-held towns in Libya. An official Syrian funeral for one of them, killed fulfilling his “duty,” took place in Damascus against the backdrop of the anti-Syrian demonstration there. Turkey recently stopped two Iranian planes for “routine inspection,” only to find rocket launchers, mortars and automatic rifles intended to rearm Assad’s security forces and his Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. Assad, according to opposition sources, has approved the deployment of hundreds of fighters to Libya, as well as air and anti-tank munitions to Gaddafi. There were reports that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has been seen working alongside the Syrian military to curtail the demonstrations. The Iranian assistance might have contributed to the increasing brutality of the Syrian security forces who managed to kill 50 more demonstrators this last weekend. But it did not stop the masses, about 500,000 of whom marched in about nine Syrian cities this past weekend. View full post…
Democratic accountability in Gaza
Jan. 28, 2009
NIR BOMS and SHAYAN ARYA , THE JERUSALEM POST
Nearly two years after Hamas won a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament, and in return started a new round of terror that triggered an IDF military operation in Gaza, a fragile cease-fire has set the last word of another chapter in this tragic conflict. The airwaves are still filled with footage of war and carnage, with crying women and children and with debates about body counts. Yes, there is a tragic story to be told. War, even when justified, brings much injustice with it. But there is also an important lesson to be learned, and a hope that this time it will not be completely missed by the rioting Arab street. View full post…