LD – Mar/Apr ’16 – Promoting democracy in Middle East

This is also being listed as FX, due to the topic area and the Friedman article.

My first post on this topic had an article about Tunisia; how does the following article affect the message of the previous one?

Tunisian Town Simmers With Unrest Over Lack of Jobs and Investment

Egypt’s experience with democracy, and a quick summary of events in several other countries in the region.

Five years after Egypt’s Arab Spring – ‘We didn’t need a revolution’

Mustafa Akyol, the author of the book Islam Without Extremes – A Muslim Case for Liberty, discusses politics and Islam; how does what he says impact the resolution?

Akyol – How Politics Has Poisoned Islam

The following article may answer the question I just posed. We tend to think of democracy as what the political scientists call liberal democracy; is that what the Middle East would adopt? If it were an illiberal democracy, would it meet the terms of the resolution?

Hamid – The Future of Democracy in the Middle East – Islamist and Illiberal – The Atlantic

In January I posted about foreign policy realism. Friedman’s article, which should be in everyone’s FX files (it covers the entire region), might be the best example of arguments that could be used on the Neg side of the resolution (summary: it’s hopeless). Is this applied Realism?

Friedman – The Many Mideast Solutions

Watching the Arab Spring uprisings several years ago, one name kept coming up on the question of transitioning to democracy – Gene Sharp. He’s a specialist on nonviolent methods. The following work of his may also be of use.

From Dictatorship To Democracy


FX – Middle East

Syria: Updates.

Finger-Pointing, but Few Answers, After a Syria Solution Fails

US to Begin Military Talks With Russia on Syria

Israel: Pushing limits, on both sides.

Amid Jerusalem Clashes, Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Try to Make Their Case

Israeli Settlers Publish Their Reality, with Palestine as Fiction

Turkey: So much for true democracy.

Opposition Journalists Under Assault in Turkey

Egypt: See comment above.

Egypt Bans News Coverage of Killings of Mexican Tourists

Lebanon: And another one bites the dust?

Lebanon’s prime minister – ‘We are heading toward a breakdown’

Afghanistan: How much progress on women’s rights in the last 15 years?

Afghan women say hackers and threats have made them afraid of Facebook

FX – Around the World

Syria: Cause and effect.

For Those Who Remain in Syria, Daily Life Is a Nightmare

‘Syria is emptying’

Turkey: Who started this? And why?

A Sense of Instability Settles Over Turkey as Conflict With Kurds Flares

North Korea: They do this a lot. So, is this a case of playing to the home crowd again, or is this the time we really have to worry?

North Korea says it has restarted its nuclear facilities, threatens the US

North Korea Threatens U.S. With ‘Improved’ Nuclear Program

Sri Lanka: A few years ago an assistant coach in the area told me a story about meeting another child in grade school who was also Sri Lankan. After his friend came over to play, his parents told him that the friend couldn’t come over any more. His family was Sinhalese, the friend’s family was Tamil. I’d really like to see reconciliation work in my lifetime.

Sri Lanka Lays Out Plan for Reconciliation

Thailand: When bad things happen, governments often like to blame who they want to be responsible rather than who is actually responsible. Did Thailand get it right, or is this scapegoating? (Remember, right now they’re under military rule – what serves the ruling powers?)

Thailand Blames Uighur Militants in Bombing at Bangkok Shrine

Great Britain: I think this article overstates matters; it cites sound bites without the proper context I’ve read elsewhere. The question may actually be whether or not Corbyn will ever matter enough to affect the U.S.-British relationship. (Will he?)

The threat of Jeremy Corbyn’s radically anti-American agenda

Spain: Taking a break from economic issues, Catalonian independence, and migrants.

Can Spain’s monarchy be saved – It’s up to King Felipe VI and his commoner queen

Zimbabwe: I’ve posted on Zimbabwe’s history/background earlier; it’ll give you more context for this article.

Zimbabwe seized white farmers’ land – Now some are being invited back

Guatemala: A small development in a bigger drama.

Guatemala – Former Front-Runner Drops Out of Presidential Race

FX – Around the World

Middle East first, EU and migrants last…

Iran: With whom does Obama need to mend fences? Are they fences worth mending?

Nuclear Deal Sealed, Obama Must Now Make It Work, and Mend Fences

Egypt: This one caught me by surprise – but it doesn’t mean new elections like it might in some countries, just a new cabinet.

Egypt’s Government Resigns Amid Corruption Probe

Syria: Note the author’s qualifications. While it’s obvious that we need a better solution for Syrians in Syria itself, it isn’t exactly surprising that the author would advocate for a solution that would also keep everyone from showing up on his doorstep the way they are now.

Steinmeier – Break the Gridlock on Syria

Turkey: For a long time, the Turkish military was the guarantor of a secular Turkish society; whenever civilian rulers would get too religious, the military would take over for a while to straighten out that problem. Erdogan is the first politician there to make the country noticeably more Islamic – a larger role for religion in the public square – and he did that by sidelining major portions of the military establishment that might have challenged him. While I didn’t see Erdogan’s use of the military against the Kurds as something that would upset the new religious balance he established, this author argues that I’m wrong. So now it’s a four-way contest: Erdogan and allies, the Kurds, ISIS, and the military. Definitely not a boring country to follow…

Karaveli – Turkey’s Military Rulers

Burma: Speaking of the military’s influence over government…

Min Zin – In Myanmar, a Soft Coup Ahead of an Election

Singapore: Election results, and hard-ball politics…

Singapore Voters Give Ruling Party a Resounding Victory

A blogger dared to question the Singapore miracle, and now the prime minister is trying to bankrupt him

Malaysia: More hard-ball politics…

Investigations Stymied in Malaysia, Critics of Najib Razak Take Their Case Global

Venezuela: And really hard-ball politics.

A Venezuelan opposition leader’s absurd sentence

Harsh sentence for Venezuela opposition leader widely condemned

Opposition in Venezuela Is Unsettled by Leader’s Sentence

Cuba: Someone who just might outlast the Castro brothers.

For Pope Francis, an unfinished mission in Cuba

Spain: While Spain is considered to be on the EU’s periphery rather than the core, even periphery countries have their internal core-periphery issues. Is Spain’s core area trying to dump the periphery slackers?

Catalans Campaigning for Independence March in Barcelona

Northern Ireland: Deja vu all over again.

The Political Crisis in Northern Ireland

Great Britain: Now there’s a liberal! (America has shifted to far to the right that our liberals would be centrists elsewhere.)

Leftist Jeremy Corbyn elected leader of Britain’s Labour Party

With Jeremy Corbyn Elected as New Leader, Britain’s Labour Party Takes a Hard Left Turn

Migrants: Not exactly a consensus yet.

Quota Proposal Fails to Gain Traction as Germany Prepares for More Arrivals

Hungarians Say Images of Harshness Toward Migrants Are Unfair

Eastern Europe Is Resisting Aid for Refugees

FX – Around the World

Migrants: Before they leave, after they arrive, and why one liberal haven isn’t.

Turkey – For desperate refugees, ‘the smuggler’s room is over there’

Empathy and Angst in a German City Transformed by Refugees

Refugees are fleeing Denmark, a Scandinavian ‘wonderland,’ en masse

Iran: On to the Sanctions issues.

Sanctions Debate Emerges From Shadow of Iran Nuclear Accord

Afghanistan: Throwing a memorial party…

Afghans Celebrate a National Hero, and Fighting Breaks Out

Brazil: Title says it all.

As a Boom Fades, Brazilians Wonder How It All Went Wrong

Venezuela: Hard-ball politics.

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez Sentenced to Prison Over Protest

Venezuelan opposition leader sentenced to military prison

Japan: Their economic mess continues. Any way out?

Krugman – Japan’s Economy, Crippled by Caution

FX – Middle East

Turkey: If it’s not a fair fight, will it be a fair vote?

Turkey Calls For New Elections Amid Fighting With Kurds, ISIS

Afghanistan: Speaking of elections…

Afghanistan’s Electoral Reform Plan Is Met With Skepticism

Iraq: Military and civil matters.

West – Why US generals don’t want advisers on the front lines in Iraq

Protests in Iraq Bring Fast Promises, but Slower Changes

Iraq and Syria: ISIS and the destruction of history; link to the original to preserve the map.

Map: There are 10 world heritage sites in Iraq and Syria. Nine are in danger

Iran: Dionne mentions one of the major ideas in Political Science – Realism. The second article is the one he refers to in his column, which describes it in more depth.

Dionne – Iran and the case for realism

Betts – Realism Is an Attitude, Not a Doctrine – The National Interest

Gaza: Interactions (or not) with Iran and Israel.

Iran’s post-sanctions windfall may not benefit Hamas

Faking Doctors’ Notes to Escape Gaza War Zone

FX – Middle East

A busy weekend, so now a posting flood…

Lebanon: More on #YouStink protests.

Thousands of demonstrators continue protests in Lebanese capital

Lebanese Protesters Aim for Rare Unity Against Gridlocked Government

Turkey: From NPR., a new form of risk-taking.

Kurdish Activists Camp Out Between Turkey’s Army And Kurdish Fighters

Iran: Much of what can be said about the pending deal has already been said (and posted), but there are still a few things worth sharing.

Zarate et al – Using financial sticks to control Iran

Mousavian – A rejection of the nuclear deal could lead to radicalism in Iran

Syria: Two things about war: first, war is, essentially, young men dying badly (can’t find the source of that quote), and second, war always involves civilian death – women, children, the elderly – and complaints about collateral damage are rather naive since it’s unavoidable. (Anyone with neocon leanings needs to remember these things.) So, pictures first, which helps to set up the reasons for the problem described in the second article.

Syria’s Children

As tragedies shock Europe, a bigger refugee crisis looms in the Middle East

Keep these numbers in mind: In the early 1990s we did an immigration topic for CX, and at the time there were something like 25 million displaced people worldwide. About half were displaced internally (still in their original country), and the other half had managed to cross a border to another country.

The latest figure I’ve heard for displaced people currently is 60 million worldwide. The article above says 11 million are from Syria alone. Is there any hope of the situation, either in Syria or globally, improving?