Events in Syria, though making headlines across the globe, and impacting the lives of everyone inside the country have left the Church in Lebanon tongue-tied it appears. Aline Sara, news editor of NOW Lebanon reflects on the political, religious, social and cultural issues which have led many Lebanese and Syrian Christians to refrain from criticising the regime for its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
All eyes are now on National Transition Council (NTC) in Libya, following the demise of the Gaddafi regime. A week ago I recorded another Middle East Analysis podcast that seeks to examine the challenges it faces.
What started in Tunisia simply cannot stop now in Libya, says Harry Hagopian. It should not only grow but also improve incrementally so that we all stop talking romantically about a one-season 'Arab Spring' and think more pragmatically in terms of an Arab Awakening from a long slumber - a stubborn challenge against those rulers and elites who would prefer their co-citizens to remain dormant.
In Libya, many are rejoicing as it appears the Gaddafi regime is about to fall. There are high hopes of an end to dictatorship and a new era of democracy. If this is the beginning of a time of peace and freedom for the Libyan people, it will also be a huge boost to other pro-democracy movements.
Today Syria is a lesson about how motivated citizens can challenge governments that act violently and seem invincible, says Harry Hagopian. But we also need to be wary towards religious radicalism or fanaticism on the one hand, and military arrogance or political kleptocracy on the other, infiltrating movements for change and co-opting them in order to impose new forms of dictatorships, totalitarian control, subjugation and discrimination.
Noting that much of the critical energy and revolt arising from the six-month old 'Arab Spring' has been directed internally rather than externally, respected scholar Elizabeth Kassab, who has a particular focus on post-colonial debates on cultural malaise, looks behind the headlines and media glare to examine features of the newly emerging landscape in the Arab world. Recovering a balanced, healthy and empowering sense of self has not been and will not be an easy task, she suggests.
The social and economic crises President Assad referred to in his recent speech mask the real political crisis, says Harry Hagopian. This concerns the governance of the country, the relationship between the different members of the ruling dynasty, and the fact that the major impediment to a normalisation of the situation is the mounting anger against the two-million strong security services and police force who have been running amok and applying myriad forms of retributive action against largely unarmed demonstrators.
Ahead of my upcoming travels in Europe concerning the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, I have recorded another podcast for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and for sharing on Ekklesia and beyond.