Overcoming Extremism

On October 22-23, the Center for Strategic & International Studies organized a workshop under the title Overcoming Extremism. I took part in the Changing Media Landscape session, alongside Anthony Barnett of openDemocracy, and Kathleen Ridolfo of Radio Free Europe. Here is a recording of the entire session hosted on the ever useful Forat.tv. Hope you enjoy.

Overcoming Extremism: The Changing Media Landscape from CSIS on FORA.tv

Heretical Nuances!

This is a link to some very interesting interview in Damascus with one of the leaders of the Iraqi Sunni insurgents. It shows very clearly how openly the Assads support the insurgents. Still, I seriously doubt whether this revelation will have much influence over the ongoing debate over engaging the Assads, seeing that pro-engagement groups will point to it as an additional reason for why the US should engage the Assads, while those who stand against engagement will see in it a further evidence of why the Assads should be punished rather than engaged. Continue reading

A Tragicomedy of Errors!

Voices are being raised on a daily basis tying progress in resolving the current situation in Iraq and the standoff with Iran to a peaceful conclusion of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. The most recent such call came from none other than Graham Fuller writing in the Winter issue of the Washington Quarterly (not available on the Internet). But, and while Fuller makes many excellent arguments with regard to the current dynamics in the region, his perspective, albeit far more nuanced and inclusive than most, is still too narrow. Continue reading

Few personal notes on the making of suicide bombers

Much has been written and said about the phenomenon of suicide bombing recently, and though only recently launched, the Tharwa Commentary could not but address the issue. For this reason, I thought, it might be useful to share the following thoughts with a wider readership in order to shed some lights on this important phenomenon, which I primarily view as being quite psychological in nature.  Continue reading

The Slide!

Signs continue to bode ill for the future of regional peace and stability. Indeed, it now seems more likely that the recent terrorist attack against the US embassy in Damascus has actually been real, not staged. But note that the Syrian authorities no longer link the attack to Jund al-Sham, the bogus group indirectly set up and “cleverly” manipulated by the Syrian military security apparatus over the last few years. Rather, the attack is now attributed to a new group of Syrian expatriates who have recently returned from Saudi Arabia, with the ideas of a certain unnamed Saudi cleric filling their heads. Continue reading

Democracy vs. Engagement!

In the aftermath of 9/11, democracy became a catch-word that was repeatedly enunciated by various American officials and commentators, from the President down, and brandished as some kind of magic weapon that can help make the differenced in the Global War on Terror. In the process though, Democracy was reduced to a single aspect of it, namely elections that, more often than not, produced undesirable results by empowering inherently non-democratic actors thus complicating the Administration’s push for greater political openness and reforms in the region. Continue reading