Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Citizen bloggers part 3...

Here's one that I almost forgot about. How could I forget our own Juan Cole from the University of Michigan?

Informed Comment
is the most in depth and informed blog focusing on issues in the Middle East, Iraq especially. Juan Cole is a professor of history at U of M. He speaks arabic, and has many local sources in the region. He has the best information about Iraq, bar none.

Check out this insight about the situation in Lebanon:

Hizbullah's call for a huge pro-Syrian demonstration in Beirut was answered by hundreds of thousands of protesters on Tuesday. The largely Shiite crowds were huge compared to the smaller anti-Syrian demonstrations held for the past week.

The anti-Syrian protesters had mostly been Christians, with some Druze and Sunnis. But Lebanon is probably only now 20 percent Maronite Christian (the most anti-Syrian group), and may be as much as 40 percent Shiite.

The simplistic master narrative constructed by the partisans of President George W. Bush held that the January 30 elections were a huge success, and signalled a turn to democracy in the Middle East. Then the anti-Syrian demonstrations were interpreted as a yearning for democracy inspired by the Iraqi elections.

This interpretation is a gross misunderstanding of the situation in the Middle East. Bush is not pushing with any real force for democratization of Saudi Arabia (an absolute monarchy) or Pakistan (where the elected parliament demands in vain that General Pervez Musharraf take off his uniform if he wants to be president), or Tunisia (where Zayn Ben Ali has just won his 4th unopposed term as president), etc. Democratization is being pushed only for regimes that Bush dislikes, such as Syria or Iran. The gestures that Mubarak of Egypt made (officially recognized parties may put up candidates to run against him, but not popular political forces like the Muslim Brotherhood) are empty.
There's more where that came from...

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