Friday, February 28, 2014

A new (order) Ukraine? Assessing the relevance of Ukraine’s far right in an EU perspective

    Friday, February 28, 2014   No comments
by Cas Mudde

The Euromaidan ‘revolution’ will undoubtedly remain one of the key political events of 2014. Most domestic and foreign observers were completely taken by surprise by the events that followed President Viktor Yanukovych’ decision not to sign an integration treaty with the European Union (EU) in November 2013. While the initial demonstrations in downtown Kiev were somewhat expected, few had ever thought that they could spiral so out of control that, just 3 months later, a democratically elected government with one of the most popular politicians in the country was forced out of power.

Euromaidan has also been interesting in terms of the propaganda battle that has been fought in the traditional and social media. As is now standard for ‘revolutions’ in the twenty first century, activists were quick to set up several Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and other websites to provide their own positive view of the ‘revolution,’ countering the negative reports from the official Ukrainian media and, particularly, the largely Kremlin-controlled Russian media. They were very successful in disseminating their message, in part through networks of sympathizers in the west (including Ukrainian émigré communities in North America and post-Soviet scholars across the globe).

We can get rid of Assad or fight al-Qaeda, but we can’t do both

    Friday, February 28, 2014   No comments
For the past three years, when seeking enlightenment about the Syrian crisis, I have often talked to Alastair Crooke, a former MI6 officer. Mr Crooke, who left government service a decade ago after a long career, now runs a think tank called Conflicts Forum, which maintains contact with organisations such as Hizbollah and governments such as Iran, when official contact has been broken off.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Iran’s Rouhani Puts U.S.-Saudi Ties to the Test

    Thursday, February 27, 2014   No comments
by David Ottaway

The opening of a dialogue between the United States and Iran has stirred  deep-seated fears in Saudi Arabia that the Obama administration may be headed for a “grand bargain” with Tehran at the Saudis’ expense, raising further doubts about Saudi dependence on Washington for its security. The Saudis have already sensed flagging U.S. support in their confrontation with Iran over Iraq and Syria as they wage a bitter battle with the Iranians for Arab and Muslim world leadership.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied the authenticity of the latest wiretap recording incriminating him of corruption during a Feb. 25 parliamentary group speech

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014   No comments

“Yesterday they published a play that they have montaged and dubbed themselves. What has been done is a vile attack against the prime minister of Turkey,” he said.

The fresh wiretap leaked into the Internet Feb. 24 containing four phone conversations between Erdoğan and his son dating back to Dec. 17, the day when massive graft raids were conducted by the police.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The ‘Islam is different’ argument

    Monday, February 24, 2014   No comments

[This is my last post serializing my just-published article, Religious Law (Especially Islamic Law) in American Courts, 66 Okla. L. Rev. 431 (2014); you can see the posts so far here.]

I have argued that many (though not all) of the things that are condemned as intrusions of Islamic law into American law are actually the applications of traditional American legal principles. Those who believe in equal treatment without regard to religion, I have argued, should extend to Muslims the benefits of those principles just as Christians, Jews and others can take advantage of those principles.
Some, however, have argued that Islam should not be treated the same as those other religions. One line of argument goes so far as to say (in the words of noted televangelist and political figure Pat Robertson) that “Islam is not a religion. It is a political system bent on world domination.”[111]

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Unanimously approved, Security Council resolution demands aid access in Syria

    Saturday, February 22, 2014   No comments
22 February 2014 – The United Nations Security Council today unanimously approved a resolution to boost humanitarian aid access in Syria, a move Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said can ease some civilian suffering, if it is implemented quickly and in good faith.

Through Resolution 2139 (2014), the Council demanded "that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders".

The 15-member Council also called for an immediate end to all forms of violence in the country and strongly condemned the rise of Al Qaida-affiliated terror.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The vicious schism between Sunni and Shia has been poisoning Islam for 1,400 years - and it's getting worse

    Thursday, February 20, 2014   No comments
Rendering of Imam Hussain after Karbala
The war in Syria began much earlier than is generally recognised. The conflict actually began in the year 632 with the death of the Prophet Mohamed. The same is true of the violence, tension or oppression currently gripping the Muslim world from Iraq and Iran, though Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A single problem lies behind all that friction and hostility. On Tuesday, Britain's leading Muslim politician, the Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, obliquely addressed it in a speech she made in Oman, the Arab state at the south-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula strategically positioned at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The religious tolerance of the Sultanate, she suggested, offered a model for the whole of the Islamic world. It certainly needs such an exemplar of openness and acceptance.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Word As Image: Contextualizing “Calligraffiti: 1984-2013″ with French-Tunisian Street Artist eL Seed

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014   No comments

“Calligraffiti:1984-2013,” runs from September 5th to October 5th, 2013 at New York’s Leila Heller Gallery. As an updated version of the original show in 1984, the current exhibition features nearly fifty artists from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and North America. The article below also contains segments of an interview with French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed.

What Nicholas Kristof gets wrong about public intellectuals

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014   No comments
In the not so distant past, Politico reporter Dylan Byers engaged into a rather public spat with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates’ contention that Melissa Harris-Perry is “America’s most foremost public intellectual.” Byers offered a list of intellectuals to counter Coates’ claim made up entirely of white men and a singular (deceased) white woman, provoking yet another proper sonning from the Twitterverse. It was telling that Byers couldn’t imagine or embrace the idea that an African-American woman could be a public intellectual. His default model returned to white and male.

A similar myopia resurfaced this past Sunday in a NYT column penned by Nicholas Kristof bemoaning the “absence” of academics in the public square.


Syria conflict and reconciliation: Enemies cross the front lines in Damascus. But will the truce hold?

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014   No comments
Trading laughter instead of bullets
It is a surprising sight but one that may become more common in Damascus. Under the terms of a local ceasefire in the outlying district of Babbila in the south of the capital, armed members of the rebel Free Syrian Army mingle with Syrian soldiers and appear on friendly terms. The images show fighters from both sides talking and joking together.

Residents of the neighbourhood were said to be “overjoyed” by the truce. According to the AFP news agency, a group began chanting: “One, one, one! The Syrian people are one!”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Reason Behind All Wars Is Egoism

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014   No comments
American academic and peace advocate Prof. Michael Nagler believes that non-violent activism is the best means to challenge the hegemonic powers and hold responsible those who commit acts of violence against the defenseless civilians or restrict their personal freedoms.

According to Prof. Michael Nagler, the Occupy Wall Street movement was a popular uprising against the greediness and materialism of the influential 1 percent that controls and runs the media, multinational corporations and interest groups.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The role of academics and public debates

    Monday, February 17, 2014   No comments
By As'ad AbuKhalil

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote an article for the New York Times in which he implored academics to play a bigger role in public life and debates. Kristof is right about that although I disagree with all his other diagnoses and prescriptions. It is remarkable that academics in the US have no connection or interactions with the public at large. In fact, academics are increasingly trained and socialized to disdain communication and interaction with the masses. Academics pride themselves on perfecting academic jargon to such a degree that style and form become more important than substance. There are social science fields that are more guilty than others: political science maybe the worst as the the field becomes more and more quantitative and the illusion of “science” in politics (something that Hannah Arendt frowned upon) has led to borrowing theories and paradigms from economics to attain more academic respectability.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gradual reforms fail in Morocco

    Sunday, February 16, 2014   No comments
by Nagham Assaad 
Morocco was not immune to the popular movement witnessed in the Arab region following the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution in December 2010. At this time three years ago, the February 20 Movement was leading mass demonstrations in various cities in Morocco. During these demonstrations, they raised slogans that varied between constitutional, political, social and economic priorities.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Iowa Flattened Literature: With CIA help, writers were enlisted to battle both Communism and eggheaded abstraction. The damage to writing lingers

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014   No comments
By Eric Bennett
Did the CIA fund creative writing in America? The idea seems like the invention of a creative writer. Yet once upon a time (1967, to be exact), Paul Engle, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, received money from the Farfield Foundation to support international writing at the University of Iowa. The Farfield Foundation was not really a foundation; it was a CIA front that supported cultural operations, mostly in Europe, through an organization called the Congress for Cultural Freedom.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why Liberal Academics and Ivory Tower Radicals Make Poor Revolutionaries

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014   No comments
by Nicole Ouimette
The revolution will not be cited. It will not have a bibliography, or a title page. The revolution will never happen in the seclusion of the ivory tower built by racist, sexist, and classist institutions. Professional academic researchers in the social sciences of many colleges and universities exploit the struggles of oppressed peoples. Oppressed peoples are left stranded with little to no resources after researchers leave their communities high and dry.

Six Lessons from Iran’s Revolution

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014   No comments
by Henry Precht

Thirty-five years since the Iranian revolution should be adequate time for aspiring Iran hands to turn a deaf ear to the “Death to America” chants from Tehran and the more polite “They can’t be trusted “ pundit wisdom from Washington. Perhaps, modestly and cautiously, we can draw a few lessons from those bad days for the present moment of hope.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New treatment for diabetes that could lead to cure

    Sunday, February 09, 2014   No comments
Scientists experimenting with stem cell approaches to alternative organ cell development have discovered a potential breakthrough in the way type 1 diabetes is treated, a new study reports.

In the sibling rivalry between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, in sheer popularity alone, type 2 would be the decisively cooler older sibling. Roughly 90 percent of all diabetes cases are type 2, characterized by a deficiency in the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin, which regulates blood glucose levels. But type 1’s remaining market share of 10 percent is actually far more lethal than type 2, as type 1 diabetics don’t simply have an insulin deficiency, which can be controlled through diet and exercise, but a total lack of insulin production.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Iran Sends Warships to US Maritime Borders

    Saturday, February 08, 2014   No comments
"The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad announced on Saturday.

The admiral, who is also the commander of the Iranian Army's 4th Naval Zone said, "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message."

In September 2012, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari reiterated Iran's plans for sailing off the US coasts to counter the US presence in its waters in the Persian Gulf.

Academic ideals are being crushed to suit private-sector style management

    Saturday, February 08, 2014   No comments
As an early-career lecturer in a post-1992 university, I often feel like a rare bird in an ornate cage struggling to maintain its dignity in a discount superstore filled with pets. This bird knows it could have been a proud representative of a noble lineage and chirrups dolefully as it ruffles its plumes, but the song is drowned out by the bustling sale of cheap, plastic imitation bird-objects around it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

L'Arabie saoudite s'en prend aux djihadistes

    Thursday, February 06, 2014   No comments
Craignant un dangereux retour de flammes, le roi Abdallah vient d'adopter un décret qui prévoit des peines de trois à vingt ans de prison pour les Saoudiens qui participent à des conflits à l'étranger. Ce durcissement est d'abord destiné à tarir le flot des candidats à la guerre sainte en Syrie, où les ressortissants du royaume wahhabite sont les plus nombreux parmi les djihadistes qui luttent pour renverser le régime de Bachar el-Assad.
Dans le passé, l'Arabie, patrie d'un islam ultrarigoriste, a souffert du retour de ses ressortissants d'Irak après l'invasion américaine de 2003. La branche locale d'al-Qaida en avait alors profité pour perpétrer de nombreux et sanglants attentats, jurant même de faire tomber la famille régnante, qui vécut de difficiles «années de sang» entre 2003 et 2005.
Selon ce décret, les Saoudiens qui rejoignent ou soutiennent des organisations considérées comme terroristes, à l'intérieur comme à l'extérieur du pays, s'exposeront pour leur part à des peines allant de cinq à trente ans d'emprisonnement.

250 Saoudiens morts en Syrie


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Susan Rice blasts Israel for criticizing Kerry

    Tuesday, February 04, 2014   No comments
U.S. national security advisor says 'personal attacks' against Kerry are 'totally unfounded and unacceptable.'

Susan Rice — the national security adviser who rocked headlines by repeating the White House message that Benghazi’s fatal terror attack was started by an anti-Muslim video — has now jumped to the administration’s defense once again.
This time with a series of tweets perceived by some as unnecessary public criticisms of Israel, reported.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Shia fighter beheaded by Syrian rebels,Video shows footage of public execution of a man believed to have been a pro-government Shia fighter

    Sunday, February 02, 2014   No comments
Rebels in Syria with ties to al-Qaida have decapitated a man believed to have been a pro-government Shia fighter, an amateur video of the public [executions] posted to the internet on Saturday showed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group which posted the video, said the [war crime] was conducted by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a foreign-led group fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and establish an Islamic emirate in Syria.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

President Abdullah Gül: Damascus ‘got upper hand thanks to Iran’

    Saturday, February 01, 2014   No comments
Damascus is in a much better position today vis-à-vis its opponents in Syria thanks to the help it has received from Iran, President Abdullah Gül has said.

“For Iran, Syria is a matter of life and death. For us, it is a humanitarian issue. For Russia, it is a matter of warm seas, the only stronghold issue. It keeps saying ‘I will end the war.’ I had said earlier that the rhetoric of the Western world was strong but that would not be reflected on the field; it was only valor,” he said while returning to Turkey from a trip to Rome.

Ankara alarmed over Qaeda threat in Syria: Ankara has woken up to the threat posed by al-Qaeda in Syria, reportedly taking measures against potential suicide bombing inside Turkey

    Saturday, February 01, 2014   No comments
With no end in sight to the civil war in neighboring Syria, Turkey is expressing increasing alarm over al-Qaeda threat amid the growing presence of the group in northern Syria and skirmishes with Turkey’s army this week along the frontier.

A report prepared jointly by the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT), the gendarmerie and the Police Department indicated that al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was preparing to attack targets inside Turkey using car bombs and assassinations.

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