There are plenty of grounds for a paradoxical 'pessoptimism' about developments in the Middle East and North Africa, writes Harry Hagopian. The huge Arab struggles for dignity and freedom are vital but will take a long time. History in Europe and the USA should surely teach us that revolutions are never made in one swoop, but take time and cause pain.
There are serious questions to be asked about the unity pact between the two Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas, says Harry Hagopian. But meanwhile the Israeli prime minister remains dwarfed by the real significance of the Arab Spring, and a huge block to progress towards a just peace for all. He is still a tactician at best, with precious little strategic foresight.
Elizabeth Kassab is a scholar of philosophy, and taught for many years at the American University in Beirut and Balamand University in Lebanon. Here she is interviewed about the “Arab malaise” from a political, rather than cultural perspective, and in a post-colonial, rather than exceptionally Arab, context.
The military balance of Libya’s domestic conflict is raising debate about external intervention, says Professor Paul Rogers. But the strategy of the Gaddafi regime is also crucial to what happens next. If a long conflict follows, the resulting costs will be measured in human lives; but also in the prospects for deepening the 'Arab spring' that first bloomed in Tunisia and Egypt, the countries on either side of Libya.
Religion changes and mutates. Some of these religious mutations can be positively harmful in a changing Middle East. But other religious innovations can help religion accommodate itself to modernity, says Ahmad Sadri. It doesn’t matter whether a society has or does not have religion per se. What is important is what kind of religion or irreligion pervades in that society.
A hurricane of change is blowing through the Arab world. Even now, many Arab regimes are still in denial, says Nadim Shehadi. But this volatile situation also challenges the West to grasp a new political reality.
Despite the pernicious narratives of past decades, and despite dismissive Western attitudes towards the Middle East and North Africa, Arabs are showing that they can practise democracy after all, says Harry Hagopian. This moment in history is not just a revolt, it is a struggle for the Arab soul.