Home > Political Goings-On > Odd coincidences and the state of the Middle East

Odd coincidences and the state of the Middle East

I was doing some research for a paper I wrote last semester on the Arab Spring and came across this quote in one of my sources. It’s funny how things work out sometimes, eh?

“History is filled with bizarre analogies. February 11, Mubarak’s day of departure, is also the day when the Shah of Iran’s regime fell in 1979… [but] Iran is a bad analogy for Egypt.

Better yet is South Africa. On February 11, Nelson Mandela was finally released after twenty-seven years in jail… For the Arab lands, the events of early 2011 were not the inauguration of a new history, but the continuation of an unfinished struggle that is a hundred years old.” – Vijay Prashad, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter

We’ll have  to wait and see how it all turns out… In Egypt, the constitutional mess is ongoing. The referendum appears to have been relatively free and fair, but poll complaints haven’t been ruled on yet. Regardless, only a third of the electorate voted in the referendum, which is discouraging. Western media has been quick to deride the new document as radically Islamic, but the degree of “Islamicism” in Egypt’s constitution will largely be determined by the way the courts interpret it. In theory, the 1971 constitution was actually more Islamic, because it specified Sharia’a as the principal source of legislation. In practice, however, it wasn’t that Islamic. On the other hand, the 2012 constitution refers to “Islamic legal thought” as the source of legislation, which may be substantially broader. (A side-by-side comparison of the 1971 constitution and the 2012 draft can be found here)

Libya continues to struggle with strong tribal factions that were pillars of Gaddafi’s regime. However, elections last year went relatively well and progress continues to be made in disarming militias.

Tunisia is about to mark the second anniversary of Ben Ali’s departure, but its National Constituent Assembly is divided over the draft constitution, and there have been scattered actions by jihadis since the revolution.

Syria… is a mess. Assad will fall eventually, but who knows when that will happen.

In Israel-Palestine, Netanyahu has just reaffirmed his commitment to build the E1 settlement in East Jerusalem. If completed, it will destroy any possibility for a two-state solution. Outlook: depressing.

At the very least, it will be an interesting couple of months.



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