If reasonable people can rightly assert that the Syrian regime is something of the past because of its domestic horrors, why are we not rejecting wholesale the repetition of such patterns today—ultimately of exclusionary/reactionary groups—in the name of liberation? Even if some of the answers are understandable from an analytical/explanatory point of view, they are increasingly unconvincing politically. Time is of the essence. Unless a more “revolutionary” attitude takes hold in Syria—one that is focused on liberation and not confined revenge—what has been happening in Egypt during the past year in this regard, will prove to be a blissful picnic compared to Syria’s future, with or without this regime.
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The region has been dramatically—though unevenly—transformed by the privatization and globalization of national economies under the influence of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other advocates of neoliberal policies. Though nominally socialist regimes across the region had begun turning away from statist economic polices in the late 1960s, most Arab states did not begin implementing neoliberal reforms in earnest until the 1980s when the fall in global oil prices precipitated a regional economic slump. For states seeking international loans, monies were conditioned upon shifting economic activity toward export-oriented agriculture, manufacturing, and services as well as selling state-owned corporations to private investors—the standard recipe for structural adjustment. Dismantling the institutions of state-driven development necessarily threatened the professed populism of many of these regimes: Raising the standard of living of people long held down by the colonial yoke was understood to be the first priority of the new regimes. But privatization of industry and agriculture, and the shift to service-based economies, combined with reduced price supports on necessities, rendered life increasingly precarious for urban and rural workers as well as the middle class. Such programs often served parallel regime interests by rewarding political allies with privileged access to formerly public assets and new markets. Even for governments that were not pressured into structural adjustment by supranational bodies (like Bahrain and Syria), privatization was often a means of personal enrichment sold as good liberal economics. In some cases, “privatization” was merely a reorganization of ownership such that certain sectors of the regime remained in control
An excerpt from David McMurray and Amanda Ufheil-Somers, editors, The Arab Revolts: Dispatches on Militant Democracy in the Middle East. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013. Published in association with Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP).
Read a longer excerpt here, along with an interview with the editors.
“Only a few dissenting voices within the Left and the Green parties have gone against the decision of the Head of State, condemning the launching of a military engagement of France in Mali, which François Hollande had not brought before the Government or Parliament for discussion. In an op-ed published on 13 January, the former Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, also expressed his reservations about the “apparent haste” of the operation and his concerns about the re-use of the “war against terror” rhetoric.
Beyond the criticism of the decision-making process that led to the French military engagement and the questionable legitimacy of an intervention conducted in the name of the “war against terror,” there are also contradictions between Hollande’s alleged desire to break from the neo-colonial politics, as claimed during his election campaign, and the reality of his recent actions.
More specifically, François Hollande had declared: that he did not want to behave as “Africa’s policeman,” that he sought to abandon troubled relations related to “Françafrique," and that he would privilege multilateral action under the aegis of the United Nations, letting African countries take responsibility for their own security. For the Head of State to commit an isolated France to an intervention in Mali directly contradicts his previous commitments, and inevitably forces him to adopt an interventionist posture.”
The above is an excerpt from the final installment of Jadaliyya's 3-part series, featuring various angles on the situation in Mali:
If the authoritarian state benefits from championing women’s causes, why do women ally themselves with authoritarian patriarchal structures to achieve more rights and visibility while others invite the state to maintain the status quo? Saudi women have not been able to gain the consensus of their society behind their emancipation. In fact, some women resist the idea, and seek greater restrictions on what they consider to be threatening their own interest as women. Given such a lack of unity, weak groups such as liberal women seek state intervention and protection to avoid reprisals from society. This is compounded by the fact that women are denied the right to organize themselves into an autonomous pressure group. In fact, Saudi Arabia remains one of the countries where civil society is curtailed by a legal system that does not leave great space for non-governmental organizations to operate outside state control. Even women’s charities are heavily controlled by the state through extensive princely patronage networks. Saudi women of all persuasions look for the state to increase its policing of men, restrain their excesses, and force them to fulfill their obligations and responsibilities towards women. In such a political context, Saudi women are left with limited choices. An authoritarian state proved to be willing to endorse some of their demands, increase their visibility, and free them from the many restrictions that they are subjected to. The power of the state and its wealth have proved too good to resist.
An excerpt from Madawi Al-Rasheed’s new book, A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics, and Religion in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
For a longer excerpt of the book, as well as an interview with Al-Rasheed: New Texts Out Now: Madawi Al-Rasheed, A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics, and Religion in Saudi Arabia
[Some Indian and “Western” commentators] have reduced India’s rape crisis to a cultural problem. Men, we are told – specifically, Indian men – are culturally lacking and barbaric. They have no concept of women’s rights or equality. They are born and bred to sexually assault and degrade women. This is a familiar phenomenon, and an outgrowth of colonialism. When horrible crimes happen, specifically to women, we reduce the culture, in this case, of about 1 billion people, to a gang-bang-enabling society of rapists. And of course, by blaming Indian culture specifically, Western sexism is brushed under the table. We arrive at Gayatri Spivak’s formula explaining the colonial exploitation of anti-woman violence in colonized societies: “white men saving brown women from brown men”.
The process of reducing brown men to savages has been all too familiar in recent years. We have seen Egyptian men reduced to “animals” and “beasts” by the New York Post because a mob high on a combination of stupidity and jubilation about Mubarak’s downfall brutally assaulted white reporter Lara Logan. We have seen a number of “native informants,” from Mona Eltahawaly to Hirsi Ali, tell us that Arab and Muslim men “hate” women. In typical colonial fashion, gender dynamics, including real crimes and acts of brutality, are reduced to “cultural” problems in which we can reduce entire societies to large gang-bang parties predicated on savage men who simply prey on women.
In many respects, this week’s violence and Morsi’s complicity in the escalations that led to it have reinforced the Guidance Bureau’s efforts to create a presidency that takes its cues from none other than the Brotherhood, and that cannot survive independently of the group’s support. The overt use of violence by Muslim Brotherhood supporters against other members of the political community in the name of Morsi’s leadership alienated any political force that could have provided the president with a support base outside of the Brotherhood. It is anything but surprising, therefore, that the president’s calls for dialogue thus far have failed to bring to the table any political figure with meaningful stature, credibility or substantial following other than the leader of his own party (and a lonesome Ayman Nour).
Having become more beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood than ever before, the idea that the pressures and necessities of politics could force the Morsi presidency to wage more inclusive coalitions that travel beyond his core group has become more far-fetched than it was before 5 December. Returning to the question posed earlier of whether someday Egypt could have a president that answers to the people and not to leaders of his secret society or the representatives of the deep state, this week’s events suggest that such a presidency is unlikely to emerge under Morsi’s leadership.
The aftermath of Wednesday’s violence has killed any chance that Morsi could credibly claim to speak for all Egyptians, or build bases of support that go beyond two groups to which he is now more bound than ever: the Muslim Brotherhood and the deep state. Morsi is now past the point of no return.
The problem Gaza presents for Israel is that it won’t go away — though Israel would love it if it would. It is a constant reminder of the depopulation of Palestine in 1948, the folly of the 1967 occupation, and the many massacres which have happened since them. It also places the Israelis in an uncomfortable position because it presents a problem (in the form of projectiles) which cannot be solved by force.
Israel has tried assassinating Palestinian leaders for decades but the resistance persists. Israel launched a devastating and brutal war on Gaza from 2008 to 2009 killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, but the resistance persists.
Go read this.