Democratize but Stabilize

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations. 

No one can any longer deny that there is a real and serious need for a concerted well-coordinated multilateral approach to the processes of development, modernization and democratization in the Broader Middle Eat and North Africa Region. Quick fixes are indeed impossible, but a need to shake the status quo is, nonetheless, quite urgent. If the UNDP reports of 2002-4 have served to elucidate anything, it is the necessity of drastic changes in policies in the region, but few of the existing leaders seem willing and/or capable of this. National interest considerations are not at stake here for them, it is their parochial interests, and, in typical cynical human fashion, they tend to override all other considerations.  Continue reading

Secularists & Islamists – The Promise & the Dread

This is the paper that I have prepared during my second stint as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution (October 2005-March 2006). It, too, was too whimsical for publication as a Brookings policy paper. So, here it is.  Continue reading

Breaking the Stalemate!

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations.

The various “color” and “flower” revolutions that have been taken place around the globe recently, in places like Georgia, the Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, seems to be intricately connected to the workings of various American international NGOs. Moreover, the activities of these NGOs seem to reflect in many ways certain shifts in the US foreign policy and interests, and, in turn, the success or failure of the various revolutions seems to reflect these shifts as well. This is why the political convulsions of Uzbekistan (May 2005) and Azerbaijan (November 2005), for instance, did not result in such revolutions. Continue reading

Myth of the Golden Age

First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations. 

One of the main myths that seems to hamper all efforts at modernizing religious faiths, especially with regard to Islam, is the insistence on the concept of the Golden Age. This myth keeps the Muslim Community focused in its basic outlook on the past. As such, any effort at changing and modernizing Islam is often billed as an attempt at retrieving its erstwhile purity. Continue reading

Heretical Haggling!

I seem to operate on a multiple levels of contradictions. But what can I do? My heart is one place, my mind is in another, and my mouth has to play an intricate game of brinkmanship all the time just to keep me balanced. I am after all an activist more by necessity than by choice, and always against my better judgment and my natural inclinations.  Continue reading

A Conference in Venice – Part Three!

“Irak sotto nueva dittatura”

Well, well, Venice is still capable of boisterous pronouncements I see. This graffiti scribbled in bold red on a hapless wall in Old Venice is proof enough that no matter how old a city gets and not matter how senile, it is still capable of making such boisterous pronouncements. The words of defiance streaming out of Damascus then, should come as no surprise. Continue reading