May 2008 Archives

Guest Voice  |  May 2, 2008 11:09 AM

Tackling the Iranian Threat

By Rt. Hon. Lord David Waddington, QC

The Iranian Regime’s nuclear ambitions are a threat to world peace. In dealing with this threat and with the Regime’s unbridled meddling in Iraq and the Middle East, the West needs to make a strategic choice.

Iran’s mullahs have managed to remain several moves ahead of us thus far, and last August Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was able to say with conviction: “Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap.”

The chairman of the United States’ Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael G. Mullen acknowledged in April that Tehran was continuing to funnel weapons and other aid to extremists in Iraq for use against Coalition troops. He highlighted in particular the “increasingly lethal and malign influence” exercised by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s extra-territorial Qods Force, which is bent on destabilizing not only Iraq but the rest of the Middle East.

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Guest Voice  |  May 12, 2008 4:53 PM

The Princess and the Facebook Girl

By Lawrence Pintak

CAIRO – Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a beautiful princess named Rym. But this princess was sad, for the voices of her people were but a whisper. It was her fervent desire to hear singing in the land, to hear the town criers shout news from the highest parapets.

But evil forces conspired against this fair maid. Truth be known, in the king’s own entourage there were those who bowed obsequiously yet secretly plotted to turn her dreams to dust.

Verily, at a gala feast, the princess proclaimed for all and sundry her Utopian dreams of “lifting the veil” from her subjects and creating “paths to understanding” between peoples. Yet among those spellbound by her soaring oratory sat a scribe sentenced to be dragged away to the dungeons for the bold act of speaking of dastardly deeds among the Powers That Be.

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Guest Voice  |  May 15, 2008 5:00 PM

Stand Up For Zimbabwe

By Njoroge Wachai

Put aside for a moment today’s situation in Zimbabwe, where political turmoil reigns after President Mugabe’s attempts to rob the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, of his legitimate election victory.

Instead, imagine that it’s November, 2008 in the U.S.. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has just pummeled the GOP’s John McCain in both the popular vote and the Electoral Colleges to claim the U.S. presidency.

But McCain, courtesy of the power of incumbency (Republicans control the White House), adamantly refuses to concede. He and President Bush hoard the official election results in a bid to block Obama from being officially declared the president.

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Guest Voice  |  May 16, 2008 4:16 PM

The ABCs of Iraqi Education

By Lee Hudson Teslik

SULAIMANI, IRAQ – In a compound guarded by gun-swinging, camo-clad Kurdish police, a small group of Iraqi students is trying to recreate the American college experience.

I’m sitting in on classes at the American University of Iraq, which just this academic year opened its doors in a relatively calm corner of southeastern Iraqi Kurdistan, in the city of Sulaimani. For the first wave of undergrads, today is test day. The most advanced group at the university faces its first exam in introductory political science.

I glance at the test.

Question #3: Do you agree or disagree that Iraq in 2003 was a good candidate for successful democratic transition? Why or why not?

You get the sense the stakes here are higher than who makes honor roll.

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Guest Voice  |  May 27, 2008 11:20 AM

The Other Arab Bloggers

By Nicholas Noe & Maha Taki

Since 2005, both the Western and Arab press have written hundreds of articles about the democratizing effect that weblogs, Facebook, Youtube and other social networking sites can have in the Arab world.

This enthusiasm is a direct consequence of Arab world’s general disgruntlement towards the state of the mainstream media since it continues to be state-controlled, censored and/or heavily divided amongst political ideologies.

The Internet, of course, is deemed to be democratizing (in sharp contrast to the Arab media) because it is a bottom-up form of communication where everyone's voice is heard, free from the gate- keeping process. Moreover, it can often escape the boundaries and ideologies of the dominant social, cultural and political milieus such that voices not often reported are brought to the fore - religious minorities, homosexuals, the 'opposition' etc.

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Guest Voice  |  May 28, 2008 11:20 AM

U.S. Out of Pakistan

By Alizeh Haider

In a recent meeting with corporate leaders in Karachi, the U.S Ambassador Anne W. Patterson expressed her surprise at the ‘depth of Anti-Americanism’ in Pakistan. She said, “I suspect that those who oppose American engagement in Pakistan have a limited understanding of how our partnerships—economic assistance and financial interactions—changed the lives of everyday Pakistanis in real and positive ways.”

I assure Her Excellency that such is not the case and that we are not an abysmally ungrateful bunch. We know very well that our country’s economy cannot sustain itself and that financial help from other countries like America is helping us barely stay afloat.

The source of anti-American sentiment, thus, is not Pakistanis’ lack of acknowledgement and appreciation for America’s economic assistance. Rather, our sense of resentment and deprivation is the result of the pound of flesh which America demands in return—that is, the sovereignty of our people.

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Guest Voice  |  May 29, 2008 12:52 PM

In Egypt, YouTube Trumps Facebook

By Alaa Abd El Fattah

The Current Discussion: Egypt has detained a number of its citizens for using the social networking site Facebook to organize anti-government protests. What online sites are most effective in influencing politics -- and is the impact positive?

Until two years ago that would have been the Egyptian Blogs Aggregator (shameless plug here, since I created the Aggregator.)

It created a space where hundreds of Egyptians from different social and political backgrounds came together, fostered conversation and debate among bloggers and made it easier for activists and journalists to follow trends and news on blogs.

Through the aggregator, blogs were used to recruit for and engage with the pro-democracy movement Kefaya, to organize protests, strikes and sit-ins. The aggregator became a platform for various ambitious campaigns, from election monitoring to a broad anti-torture movement.

Although it’s still popular, today the aggregator is not as relevant. This is mainly due to the exponential rise in the number of Egyptian blogs; no one can keep up with them all anymore. But blogs are still at the heart of Egyptian cyber-activism, and citizen journalism through blogs remains the one consistently free source of information available.

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