19. The folly of proxy war

In the 19th and beginning of the 20th century the Middle East had become in the view of many Arabs a playing board, on which foreign powers played their game using the Arabs as pieces. While the Ottoman Empire lost more and more of its authority over its Arabic subjects through the machinations of France, … Continue reading

18. The end of a tolerant society?

Tunisia could long be considered an example of stability, equality and tolerance in North Africa and Middle East. Tunisia’s first president Habib Bourguiba ensured that women were given equal rights and encouraged the secularization of Tunisian society. His successor Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali struck a more religious tone, but ensured that radical Islamism could not … Continue reading

16. The Lebanese dilemma: How to keep the peace?

As the increasingly sectarian war rages on in Syria between the mainly Sunni rebels and the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad, many wonder whether the virus of sectarianism will also infect Lebanon. As a multi-confessional country with its own history of civil war (1975-1990), Lebanon seems to be a likely candidate. The involvement of Lebanese … Continue reading

15. Building a new (religious) foundation

In revolutions dictatorial regimes are seen as a structure that has to be demolished. The end of the regime’s figurehead is not the end, but the start of the demolition of the “structures” of the old regime. Not only the cronies, who profited from the dictatorship, should go, but also the legal foundation of the … Continue reading

13. Will popular Islam survive the revolutions?

The revolutions in the Middle-East have inadvertently unleashed a force that cannot be controlled. Radical groups, which were before held back by the now toppled regimes, have started to attack sufi graves. The most highlighted incident was the destruction of the ancient and famous sufi sanctuaries in Timbuktu by armed radicals, who called themselves Ansar … Continue reading

12. Power to the president!

On 22 November 2012 president Mohammed Morsi sacked Egypt’s prosecutor general and decreed that any decisions by him could not be overturned by any court. This decree gave him the power to rule Egypt at his whim. Morsi claimed that his move was meant to protect the revolution and that he assumed these powers on … Continue reading

10. Musings on Libya’s militias

Thomas Hobbes discussed in his famous work “Leviathan” the need for a strong, civil government. Without a government, the people would fall back to their natural state. This natural state is a chaotic one, a battle of man against man. In order to contain this violence, the government should have the exclusive right to use … Continue reading