Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

Egypt and Syria Look More Dynamic Than This Circus Called Pakistan
Ayaz Amir

This is not a dysfunctional government. If it were just that we would be lucky. Being dysfunctional implies room for improvement – the stalled engine being made to work. What we have is something beyond that: a government fast losing the ability of even going through the motions of functioning. For all the leadership that there is, Pakistan is on auto-pilot, at the mercy of the elements. There’s no hand on the wheel. If we aren’t getting this, we have a problem on our hands. ....


Three Elections, One Story
Vijay Prashad

The repression in Egypt, the war in Syria and the political suffocation in Algeria make conditions for an election impossible, with even nominal campaigning by challengers inconceivable Within a month, Algeria, Egypt and Syria held presidential elections. In all three cases, despite nominal challenges, the elections had only one candidate on the ballot….


Politically, it will be very important because it will set new manoeuvres which may present stability in the region – the role of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the political strategy of Israel will continue to enhance diplomatic interests in these three regions. When we retrospect, the coups in Egypt were started in Abdul Nasser’s reign. Gaddafi in Libya overthrew King Idris. Ali Abdullah Saleh petrified the tribes of Yemen which actually resulted in a political conundrum…..


Observers from 30 countries monitored the election and issued a statement indicating that the elections were free, fair and transparent. However, those who say that the elections were a mockery of democracy has every reason to characterize them so, because democracy requires much more than what took place last week in Syria. The US, the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declared the election illegitimate…..


Respect for state institutions holds state and society together. It also helps avoid that adversarial relationship which one finds in Pakistan between the people and government. Surprisingly, in spite of having a secular constitution, all Turkish governments have continued one vital Ottoman tradition — mosque imams are paid by the government. This has served to choke a major source of mischief and discord.....


Can Egypt rise with Sisi in Power?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Egypt’s prosperity will reflect on a region that is swamped with chaos. We don’t only blame the Brotherhood for the dire situation. Egypt was calm and stable during Mubarak’s very long time in power. It was a dormant state. Controlling the region and saving revolutions require integrated forces that have political and geographic expansion capable of providing stability. Unlike those who finance chaos in Egypt because they think this will help them prove that Sisi’s governance is a failure, Saudi Arabia and the UAE need to help Egypt succeed, not out of spite for the Brotherhood but because this serves the interest of all Arabs……


Benghazi, the CIA, and the War in Libya
Eric Draitser

From the outset of the war against Libya, the United States and its NATO allies utilized a variety of terror groups and other intelligence assets to topple the Gaddafi government. While some had been directly linked to the CIA, others were pulled from the stable of terror organizations utilized at various times by the US as Mujahideen in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and elsewhere. Essentially then, the US developed a loose network of proxies, some of which were ideologically opposed to the US and to one another, that it unleashed on Libya to do Washington’s dirty work…..


What Palestinian Unity Is All About
Ramzy Baroud

In recent weeks, the word “unity” has been used in many ways, some erroneous and others quite disingenuous. Hamas and Fatah party officials — all operating with expired mandates — have repeatedly infused a more sentimental meaning of “unity,” with few exceptions including that of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. The latter, although optimistic about the future potential of the agreement, understands that the transitional government is merely a first step in a long program aimed at the unification of the Palestinian body politic…..


Is Iraq-Syria Becoming New Af-Pak?
Serkan Demirtas

Believed to be composed of around 10,000 jihadists with some of them even coming from western countries to fight against the Iraqi army and seize control in the country’s mostly Sunni regions, the ISIL denies its affiliation with the al-Qaeda and claims to be moving independently. The ISIL has recently launched operations in different provinces of the country and yesterday seized control of Mosul, a city of Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds…..


Hezbollah and Iran Are Making Israel Appear Isolated and Divided
Kim Sengupta

There is also general consensus here that the US and the West are in no mood to start another conflict with what has been unfolding in Ukraine and the ongoing bloody strife in Syria. Indeed, Mr Netanyahu appears to have given up on Mr Obama, especially after Washington ignored Israeli calls to boycott the new Palestinian government with Hamas joining Fatah…..


Battle to Establish Islamic State across Iraq and Syria
Patrick Cockburn

The creation of a sort of proto-Caliphate by extreme jihadis in northern Syria and Iraq is provoking fears in surrounding countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that they will become targets of battle-hardened Sunni fighters……


Afghanistan’s Likely Future Is Shaping up Very Much like It's Awful Recent Past
Peter Popham

Are the Taliban capable of such a feat? Have their cultural attitudes evolved over the years of resistance? What of the fabled ‘moderate Taliban’ on whom so many hopes have been placed over the years? In their rustic simplicity, are they still as honest as they were reputed to be? Were they ever?.....


Islam Vs Pluralism And Democracy?
Mustafa Akyol

Karaman’s distaste for democracy is even more ungrounded. He wrote that democracy presumes that “man is independent from God,” which is news to me. One can at least check American democracy, to see that it is in fact based on the belief that, “All men are created equal, [and] they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” What democracy really presumes is not that men are independent from God, but that they are independent from theocrats who claim to rule in the name of God. …..

American involvement in the Middle East has put Islam, once a subject of far-off religious study, onto the public stage. The press of the last decade was abuzz with one jihad tragedy after another, beginning with September 11 and continuing with intermittent suicide bombings in Israel and elsewhere. Though we recognize that our enemies in the Middle East are adherents of some form of Islam, our democratic sense of tolerance restrains us from demonizing the entire faith….


Do Iranians Hate Arabs And Islam?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Iranian support to the Palestinians is always channelled to groups opposed to the government in Ramallah. Iran supports Hamas, Islamic Jihad and “Hezbollah” within a framework of activities aimed at, for example, preventing negotiations with Israel, without offering an alternative military or political solution for the Palestinian people and to the Israeli occupation. This support is so little that it does not even provoke Israel into seeking revenge against Iran but it is enough to sabotage any political process and leave the region on fire…..


Blame the State for Sham Arab Democracy
Rami G. Khouri

The recent string of “elections” across the Arab world raises profound questions about the Arab world’s apparent difficulty in adopting institutions and practices of liberal pluralistic democracies. But is the problem really about the ability of Arab social values to accommodate democracy, or is there a deeper problem related to the clumsy nature of statehood that has emerged in this region during the past century?....


When the crime committed was terrorism, 54 percent of the time both Islam and Muslim were included in the article selection criteria, 68 percent of the time when “Islam” was the only article selection criteria, and 74 percent of the time when the article selection criteria was only “Muslim,” the crime committed was a non-terrorist crime. Other findings included that a photo was included in the article 84 percent of the time when the article selection criteria included both Muslim and Islam. For the crime of terrorism, the search terms “Islam” or “Muslim” or “Somali” were much more likely to be included in the headline than non-terrorist crimes…..


…supports the idea of spiritual democracy or social democracy as an ideal form of government for Muslims which will be based on the Quran and Sunnah as its constitution and Shura (body of elected members) as the Executive body. It thus becomes clear that Iqbal did not oppose or criticise democracy as a form of government but only democracy based on the western ideas of unlimited liberalism, secularism and capitalism…..

The Mirage of Political Islam
Mustapha Tlili

How to channel the aspirations of that segment of the Egyptian and Tunisian societies, that is rural, pious, illiterate and conservative, remains a real challenge. Typically, such people are poor and lack economic opportunity. From the period of the dictatorships to the elections made possible by the Arab Spring.....

Maldives: The Long Road from Islam to Islamism
Mushfique Mohamed and Azra Naseem

The beginning of the end of Maldivian Buddhism came with Arab domination of trade in the Indian Ocean in the 7th Century. Just as the rise of China and India, and the US foreign policy’s Asia Pivot, have made the Maldives geo-strategically important today, so it was with the ancient Silk Route. Foreign powers were drawn to the Maldives by its location and its abundance of cowry shells, the currency of many. The spread of Islam along the Silk Route is well documented…..

War on Boko Haram
John Cherian

The U.S. wants to use the anti-terror campaign in Africa to gain strategic control over the flow of natural resources to countries such as China. One-third of China’s oil imports are from Africa, and the country is emerging as the continent’s top trading partner and investor. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang was in Abuja to attend the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa (May 7-9). Li Keqiang offered to invest more than $13 billion to upgrade the Nigerian railway system. He also said that China would help locate the missing schoolchildren.....


Sisi and the Palestinians
Ali Jarbawi

High Palestinian expectations are linked to Egypt’s internal stability. Some will materialize; others are sheer hope. But if Mr. Sisi’s Egypt refuses to shy away from confronting Israel, as Egypt did during the Mubarak era when it was firmly under the American thumb that will be a great boon for the Palestinian cause.....


In Islam Only Peaceful Struggle Is Permitted Even Against Tyrants, Though Speaking The Truth In Front Of A Dictator Is Considered The Highest Form Of Jihad
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Prophet once stood up and narrated all the things that would happen from his time till the Day of Judgment. In this sermon, he strongly forbade his Ummah from political rebellion. He said that even if their rulers oppressed them, so much so that even if they whipped their backs and looted their wealth, they must still obey them. After this, the Prophet spoke about rulers among his people who would mislead them, adding that when the sword emerged among his Ummah; it would not be lifted until Judgment Day.....


Let’s Now Look Within! Let Us Change Our Focus from Narendra Modi, Gujarat Riots and Babri Mosque's Demolition
Dr. Ghulam Zarqani

The basic democratic value requires from us that we welcome our newly-elected Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi with open arms, regardless of our religious or political affiliation. In other words, we had full democratic liberty to criticise him before he was elected as Prime Minister, but now that he has assumed his post, we should have no right to rant against his becoming the PM of India. Now we can only criticise him when he is found guilty of harming our national or community interests. So, our critiques should now be directed towards new disturbing developments, if any, not against Mr. Modi’s becoming the Prime Minister.

But what I see in (Urdu) newspapers, electronic media and social sites is that some people are actively engaged in writing provocative statements and uploading deplorable photos recalling the demolition of Babri Masjid and the incidents of Gujarat. ... provoking religious sentiments does not augur well for us Muslims. We should rather extinguish the fire of religious polarisation, with our wisdom, even if it is lit by the majority group……

Reporting the Mideast: Go Back To the Streets
Ramzy Baroud

However, the quarrel, in part, is concerned with the cost-benefit analysis of some of these revolutions, Syria being the prime example. Is it worth destroying a country, several times over and victimizing millions to achieve an uncertain democratic future? The cost for Egypt was high as well, although not as high in comparison to Syria…….

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