Arguably, the Middle East is the most volatile region on the planet. It is home to over 1.4 billion Muslims, constituting more than one-fifth of the world’s population. The Middle East has a rich religious and intellectual tradition that evolved over a long period of time and the region’s centrality to economics, politics and international relations is undeniable: it plays an important role in global peace, security and prosperity. A relatively recent phenomenon of sectarian conflict on a regional scale can be observed. A lot has been said and discussed about the new and dangerous Shia-Sunni divide in the Middle East. This resurgence of the ancient schism in Islam threatens to undermine the state – based on already frail national identities – as the primary political actor in the region.
The history of Muslim civilization, if defined in terms of ‘search for a common identity’, has passed through several phases. The initial concept of a Muslim Ummah, having survived through a phase of Arab nationalism, was translated into pan-Islamism in the 21st century. In the post-1980s period, the Shia-Sunni strife has witnessed a major upturn; particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Bahrain. Continue reading
The wave of Arab revolts that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and then spread throughout the region, were initially ignited by civil movements for rights, justice, and dignity. Women human rights defenders and democracy activists were at the heart of peaceful movements for change in the streets of Arab countries. In fact, their presence, determination, and demands were grounded in their struggles against dictators over the past few decades. Watch film here or view via the embedded link below.
However, the political openings caused by these revolts were quickly exploited by fundamentalist religious groups who immediately sought to undermine human rights defenders. Across the region, women human rights defenders are being targeted for violent attacks, intimidated, threatened, excluded, and undermined. In addition to physical threats, conservative powers are also attempting to create social rifts between human rights defenders and their communities through stigmatizing women human rights defenders as not legitimately representing national values. Continue reading
And why/ then/ do the troops/ ask/how long and to what edge/do we continue our fight/manly but devoid of sense/because it revolves eternally/around death.
It’s autumn in New York. Ella’s and Louis’s dreamy voices echo in one’s head. They bring the promise of new love and an aching sense of the dreams gone. In the mundane world of international politics autumn in New York brings back the United Nations General Assembly and the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.
Every year, the First Committee takes stock of the international security and disarmament developments and trends, adopts a number of resolutions on furthering arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, and recommends them to the General Assembly for adoption. The General Assembly adopts them by consensus or a majority vote. Every year, their adoption brings to the mankind a small measure of promise of some, however limited, movement towards a more cooperative global security, arms reduction and disarmament. But, as the Arab proverb goes, a promise is a cloud, fulfillment – a rain. Continue reading
The Pakistan Horizon is the flagship Journal of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs which we have published continuously since 1948. The July and October 2011 issues have been dedicated to the Arab Awakening and Pakistan’s relationship with China over the past six decades. The contents of the two latest issues of our journal are set out below. Please contact us on email@example.com should you want more details.
THE ARAB UPRISING, Volume 64, Number 3, July 2011
- Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Survey, Staff Study 1
- The Arab Awakening, Ana Marija Bešker 7
- The Arab Spring: How Will It Blossom? Karamatullah K. Ghori 13
- US Democracy Promotion and Popular Revolutions in the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities, Muhammad Ijaz Latif and Hussain Abbas 25 Continue reading
This post revisits an event entitled Europe and the Arab Awakening in Regent’s College in London. The editor is an alumnus of the college and represented The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. Major stalwarts of the British Foreign Office such as Lord Hannay (former UK Ambassador to the UN, who chaired) and Sir Sherard Cowper Coles (former UK Ambassador to Israel and Saudi Arabia) spoke at the event. Other eminent personalities such as the Guardian’s Middle East editor Ian Black and Hagai Segal of the NYU in London spoke at the event.
Despite the emphasis on “Europe” the event became, as expected, a debate about the Arab “Spring” which, some panel members argued, was better described as the Arab “Awakening”.
Following Lord Hannay’s introduction Sir Sherard shared his personal views about the Middle East. He began by pointing to the tyranny of the “opaque” regimes which had controlled the region subsequent to France and Britain’s conclusion of their League of Nations’ mandates. It was argued that the “bad” would get much “worse” and that the departure of the autocrats from Middle Eastern politics would be “painful”: but Sir Sherard placed reliance in the Arab youth to take the revolution (or awakening) further and he warned all parties concerned of the “long dark winter” ahead. Continue reading