People in the Middle East and North Africa are struggling to change the lexicon of their erstwhile realities with a series of trial and error policies, says Harry Hagopian. But whether the uprisings go the bumpy way of the 1848 European revolutions, emulate the South African path of truth and reconciliation, follow the East European fast lane of 1989, or entrench the violence we have been witnessing lately, surely freedom cannot be snuffed out forever?
As we approach the Sacred Triduum in Holy Week, when Christians reflect on the profound sacrifice Christ made for humankind, and at a time when the Jewish community has started the feast of Passover, a focus on the Middle East and North Africa region seems religiously natural - as well as politically topical.
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.
Millions of people across north Africa and the Middle East have are demonstrating the power of active nonviolence. But British politicians and pundits seem to have learnt no lessons, falling in line behind the bombing of Libya as soon as Cameron announced it. In the face of all the evidence, they are accepting the old assumption that violence works.
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?