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VIEWPOINT: Egypt – Minorities, Majorities in a Democracy

In their first attempt toward establishing a democracy, Egyptians apparently misunderstood the real meaning of the concept, and how its mechanism functions. Democracy is not only about placing ballots in transparent boxes to set up a government. Democracy is a philosophy of ruling and governing a country through a given mechanism that entails many More »

VIEWPOINT: Balancing Freedoms in Bahrain

It is a curb on freedom of expression to temporarily refuse to grant licenses for public demonstrations. However, freedom of expression in an absolute sense is also curbed when a magazine refuses to publish cartoons highly offensive to millions of Muslims; or when a prominent Holocaust-denier and anti-Semite who incites hatred is banned from More »

VIEWPOINT: Arming Syria’s Rebels – a Strategic and Humanitarian Imperative

As President Barack Obama prepares to embark on his second term, Syria’s civil war looms as perhaps his most urgent foreign policy challenge. With the death toll climbing upwards of 35,000 and the number of refugees approaching 400,000, the Obama Administration has thrown its weight behind the “Seif Plan,” a political initiative taking place More »

VIEWPOINT: US Should Supply Syrian Opposition With Portable Heat-seeking Missiles

The United States and Europe may eventually have to draw a red line for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. The U.S. government should tell Assad that he must launch serious negotiations for a transition government. If he does not, Western governments should consider threatening to supply opposition militias with ground-to-air missiles in sufficient More »

VIEWPOINT: For the Love of the Muslim World, Uphold Freedom of Speech

In horror, I followed the events that led to the recent attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Cairo, Benghazi, Tunis, Khartoum and other cities. Given the eruption of similar reactions in the past, I was not surprised over the attacks per se as I was over the ability of some Muslims to cause so More »

VIEWPOINT: On Democracy, US Should Not Engage in Double-speak

The events of the past weeks have brought to the fore the tenuous nature of new democratic transitions in the Middle East and the role of the U.S. in its engagement with the region. A debate has emerged regarding principles of freedom of speech, incitement, and the nature of U.S. democracy promotion. Some have More »

VIEWPOINT: NGOs, Media Distort Picture of Bahrain’s ‘Arab Spring’

On September 19, 2012, the twenty-first session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva is expected to adopt the Final Report on the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). A relatively new mechanism of the U.N., the UPR constitutes a review of the human rights ‘performances’ of all U.N.-member states. Obviously, More »

VIEWPOINT: To Avoid Iraq Redux, US Should Support Syrian Opposition

“History,” President Barack Obama remarked, “will judge the original decision to go into Iraq.”  But the lessons of the Iraq War already weigh on the president. Even in defending the use of force in Afghanistan and Libya, President Obama cited U.S. difficulties in Iraq to caution against costly, military engagements in the future. The invasion More »

VIEWPOINT: Was Clinton’s Message to Egypt Misunderstood?

Objective evaluation of the recent visit by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Egypt suggests a possible softening of the critical tone which, up until now, the U.S.  has used with the Egyptian military.  Factors that support this understanding of Clinton’s message include: 1-      In contrast with previously stated U.S. positions making U.S. More »

VIEWPOINT: 6 Reasons Why Islamists Lost, Liberals Prevailed in Libya Vote

In clear contrast to electoral tendencies in other “Arab Spring” countries, relatively liberal parties in Libya seem to have decisively crushed their Islamist rivals in last Saturday’s parliamentary poll. The development came as a surprise to many. Here are some reasons which might explain the apparent anti-Islamic trend in a country which last year More »

VIEWPOINT: Doctors and the Bahrain ‘Arab Spring’ – Questions Unanswered

On June 14, 2012, a court verdict was issued in the trial of Bahrain medical personnel on charges related to the February and March 2011 unrest in the kingdom.[1] In brief, nine medics were found innocent, five were released for time served and four were convicted with the right for appeal. World reaction was varied, More »

VIEWPOINT: The Morsi Presidency and the New Balance of Power in Egypt

Following the first post-revolution parliamentary elections in Egypt, many Egyptians became extremely alarmed about the real prospect of their country becoming fully controlled by Islamists who had just won more than 80 percent of the seats. Also, this initial sweeping victory compelled many Islamists themselves to assert that they were the true representatives of More »

VIEWPOINT: Let’s Finally Acknowledge That War Is Raging in Syria

More than fifteen months have passed since the first shots were fired in Syria and, here we are, still trying to define whether what’s going on there today is a war, a civil war or “just” a conflict. According to some estimates, more than 16,000 people have already been killed and, with no solution More »

VIEWPOINT: Three Years In, Is Iran’s Green Revolution Still Going?

Before there was an Arab awakening, there was an Iranian one. It started three years ago, on June 13, 2009. Some have since called it a revolution; others have been more guarded, referring to it instead as a movement, connoting a sense of continuity. On June 13, 2009, then incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed an More »

VIEWPOINT: 8 Reasons Secularism Will Triumph In Egypt Presidential Runoff

The final results of the Egyptian presidential elections are in– the final run-off election in June will pit Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood against Ahmed Shafiq, former prime minister who represents the old guard of the Mubarak regime. Morsi received around 25% of the votes, closely followed by Shafiq, 24%. Other main candidates include More »

VIEWPOINT: From Exile, I, Ribal al-Assad, Offer a Peace Plan for Syria

I run an organization which attempts to foster freedom and democracy in Syria and am exiled from my own country. Although Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, is my cousin, I am not an apologist for the regime in Damascus. On the contrary, I hold Bashar al-Assad responsible for the behavior of his abhorrent regime. But, unlike More »

VIEWPOINT: Aboul Fotouh, the Man Egypt Needs for President

Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh will be my choice for Egypt’s first freely elected president when I head to the ballot box in late May. He gives me a commodity hard to find in these messy days my country is going through. He gives me hope. His whistle-clean reputation, revolutionary spirit, modern and moderate-yet-genuine Islamism, More »

VIEWPOINT: Mona Eltahawy, Your Facts Are Wrong and We Don’t Hate Women

Mona Eltahawy’s recent article in Foreign Policy “Why Do They Hate Us?” (as in why do Arab men hate Arab women?)  fell far short of my expectations for such a widely read columnist. I say this not only as an Arab Muslim man who doesn’t hate his mother, sister, wife or daughters (nor knows, or More »

VIEWPOINT: Obscured Realities of Bahrain's Arab Spring

Bahrain is a multi-ethnic nation whose heritage is built on a seafaring tradition and its accompanying internationalism. But the way Bahrainis responded to the ‘Arab Spring’ was for me, alienating and dangerous. As a member of the medical profession, the last thing I expected to see was the politicization of my colleagues, blatant racism More »

VIEWPOINT: Gender Equality Still Distant Dream for Egypt Women

When women are fearful of walking in Egypt’s streets because of increasing rates of sexual harassment, physical assault and rape, then we have a very serious social and behavioral problem. I am not talking about a novel phenomenon that’s taking shape in post-revolution Egypt, nor am I speaking of increasing incidents that are due to More »