Getting it Right!

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations. 

Getting the right to vote is not a guarantor of anything, except a peaceful transfer of power. Women will not necessarily vote for women, and the best candidate in character and message do not necessarily win. Elections are above all about organization. Kuwaiti elections have been a mixed bag, reformist candidates won, but so did Islamist candidates, while not a single female candidate got elected, despite the fact that women were voting for the very first time in Kuwait history. All in all though, another important step on the path of democratization was just taken in Kuwait, but there is still much to learn.

The Hamas Factor!

Hamas’ electoral victory, although billed as a surprise” or a “shock” by many newspapers, did not really come as a major surprise to most observers of Palestinian politics. In fact, the whole reason why Abu Mazin seemed to have entertained postponing the elections for a while was directly related to his firm conviction that holding the elections at this point in time will result in a surrounding victory by Hamas.  Continue reading

The Difference between Kuwait & Syria

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations. 

In the year 2000, it took the Syrian parliament, the so-called People’s Assembly, less than 30 minutes to amend the country’s long-standing constitution in order to make way for Bashar al-Assad to succeed his recently deceased father, Hafiz al-Assad, as the country’s new president. Not a single voice of dissention was heard. But one MP did have the bravery to suggest that the debate should last longer and that the process of amending the constitution needs to be elaborate somehow in order to safeguard the country’s image, not to mention that to the upcoming president. The brave MP was severely rebuked for even thinking that. MPs in Baathist Syria were not meant to think, period. Continue reading

The oxymoron of “illiberal democracy”

Special to The Daily Star

The term “illiberal democracy,” advanced by some as an acceptable model for future change in many parts of the Middle East, is, in truth, an oxymoron. Real functioning democracies can never be illiberal. Nor can they be at peace with the rest of the world, a fact that makes their appearance quite problematic for many of their neighbors and for the world at large.  Continue reading