Without seeking to draw explicit conclusions about the current conflict in and over Libya, Harry Hagopian offers some observations and questions about what is going on, and proposes a cautious hopefulness about the 'Arab spring', even in the midst of winter.
When does an anti-Government uprising become a civil war? Can the rebels wage a proper united campaign? How will the West proceed in its dealings with Libya and the wider North Africa Middle East (MENA) region?
An Armenian saying avers that one can snuff out a candle but there are always other matches to light a new candle. This came to mind when I learnt that Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs in Pakistan, had been killed in Islamabad when his car was ambushed by four religious extremists.
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.
The 'Palestine Papers' published by al Jazeera, giving a detailed insight into the negotiating tactics of the PLO leadership, raise crucial and difficult issues for Palestinians, says Harry Hagopian. But could the world community convert the attention into another initiative for peace with justice in the region?
Did it start with Tunisia earlier this year, or was it Iran that inspired the trend in 2009 or perhaps even Lebanon as far back as 2005? Was Egypt an isolated albeit epic event or is it one that truly connects the dots in a region riddled with all forms of injustice? How come 'people power' has suddenly re-awakened across the Middle East and North Africa region?
Given the shifts taking place almost on a daily basis across the whole Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region since last month, it was especially interesting to read the ACN interview reproduced by Ekklesia with HE Cardinal Antonius Naguib from the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt -- also a member of the Middle East Council of Churches.
As the world seeks to take measure of the seismic change taking place in Egypt, and as the question about what kind of political settlement will follow the demise of President Hosni Mubarak emerges, BBC Radio 4's Sunday Programme on 13 February 2011 will examine the issues with a panel of experts - including regular Ekklesia contributor Dr Harry Hagopian.