On Monday, September 29th, the curtain will drop on the lengthy rule of Hamid Karzai, in power since 2001. He will be replaced in Kabul’s large Arg presidential palace by Ashraf Ghani, whose appointment will be sealed at a solemn ceremony, albeit one less festive than expected. The Afghans and the international community would have liked to celebrate the central Asian country’s “first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in recent history”, but things did not turn out as expected.
Islamic Philosophy in the Age
of Ethical Malaise and Local Turmoil
of Ethical Malaise and Local Turmoil
Like other classical world traditions and civilizations that seek renewal for survival, continuity and contribution to world affairs, the Islamic one is convened and questioned, maybe more than others and more than ever before, seeing its geographical and intellectual positions between the so-called East and West, an archaic dichotomy that disrupts politics and stirs philosophy at the same time. The ongoing dire socio-political chaos in the Arab-Islamic world questions the intellectual tradition of this part of the world, to see where it stands, and what contributions it offers to overcome the turmoil. Reset-DoC is pleased to present three reflections on Islamic Philosophy by Mohammed Hashas (PhD), as part of an ongoing conversation with a civilization that was, and a worldview that is still vibrant and confident that it can still contribute to world intellect and local politics.
Scottish residents headed to the polls on 18 September to decide whether Scotland should sever its ties with the United Kingdom and become an independent country. The ‘no’ vote obtained a robust 55% majority while the ‘yes’ campaign still managed to attract over 1,600,000 votes from those who exercised their right to cast a ballot. The Union with England dating back to 1707 remains thus intact, as indeed does the place of Scotland within the United Kingdom. A new referendum on independence is not on the cards for the foreseeable future. And yet, the no vote was hardly a vote for the status quo.
From the onset things on the field were already very clear. The violence of the regime manifested itself immediately. In fact, the revolt was symbolically born as a “civil” response to an act of violence: a group of children, beaten and tortured for having written what they thought of Bashar al-Asad on a wall. At that stage the propaganda machine was already well greased, but nobody with any sense thought that these images and videos of the repression against peaceful protestors were fake. However, this would actually become one of the pillars of misinformation in the years to come.
In the ‘Great Game’ developing in the Middle East and amidst constant changes in diplomatic equilibria, as well as the deployment of armed forces to try and stop ISIS’ advance, the only certainty for the moment is the role the Kurds have over time cut out for themselves and their mandate from the most important European countries and the United States. This concerns not only the often discussed Peshmerga, Iraqi Kurds who have rather effectively opposed the Islamic State’s penetration since the beginning of the summer, but also Syrian Kurds, active since at least 2012 and without doubt less visible at least from a media perspective.
Reset-Dialogues is pleased to republish the summaries and video of a panel discussion organized at the National Press Club in Washington by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. Islam and foreign policy experts - among whom John Esposito, Shadi Hamid, Michele Dunne, and Michael O'Hanlon - talked about the causes for the rise of radicalism in Iraq and Syria and the creation of militant groups such as ISIS. They discussed the intentions of ISIS and the threat posed to the Middle East and the rest of the world. The panelists provide criticism of the Obama administration’s response to ISIS and offered recommendations for moving forward.
As expected, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been elected president of Turkey and was sworn in on August the 28th. He won the August 10th elections, once again, by a wide margin. The outgoing prime minister obtained 51.79% of votes, surpassing the best results ever achieved by his party, the AKP, thus avoiding a second ballot and winning in many constituencies, both less urbanised ones and in the country’s two main cities; Ankara and Istanbul. This confirms that Erdogan’s success transcends the urban-rural divide.
Iraqi Kurds are gaining ground thanks to United States’ air strikes in northern Iraq and support from the regular Iraqi army. On the one hand they have the decision made by the U.S., France, Germany and Great Britain to provide the Kurdish peshmerga with weapons, and on the other, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is providing logistic support to Kurdish fighters. Furthermore, the PKK’s historic leader, Abdullah Ocalan, following a letter dated 2013 in which he asked for the armed struggle to end, has reiterated a request to end all conflict with the Turkish authorities in a document signed in Imrali prison (Sea of Marmara).
Reset-Dialogues is pleased to republish and subscribe to the following press release in which the Center for the Study for the Studi of Islam and Democracy (CSID), based in Washington DC "condemns in the strongest possible terms the gruesome and barbaric killing of journalist James Foley by the so-called Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or of Iraq and Shem (ISIS))."
The “civil war” in Iraq seems to have reached a point of no return. The IS (Islamic State) now threatens not only Kurdistan, but also Baghdad, and the collapse of the Iraqi Armed Forces gives rise to serious doubts regarding the solidity of Shiite political and military assets. The re-establishment of relations between Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds is now, however, the post-Maliki objective supported by the United States, Iran, the charismatic Shiite religious leader Al-Sistani and a number (how many?) of Sunni tribal leaders.
Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli is the Italian government’s delegate for the Middle East and in the past was a professor and OSCE representative as well as being a former member of the Italian and European parliaments’ Foreign Affairs Committees. Pistelli’s long summer started when he returned to Italy with the last flight out of Erbil before U.S. air strikes on ISIS jihadists began. There he saw first-hand Iraq’s wounded image in refugee camps, filled with those who had already abandoned everything to flee the men led by “Caliph” al-Baghdadi, and were now preparing to flee once again. Today, he believes, such an international crisis or the decision-making system in place called upon to remedy matters, are no longer issues to be addressed by desk-strategists, because when events are this harsh, a backlash can only be prevented by the United Nations’ centrality and the flexible of politics and diplomacy.
"After the inventions of writing and printing, digital communication represents the third great innovation on the media plane. With their introduction, these three media forms have enabled an ever growing number of people to access an ever growing mass of information. These are made to be increasingly lasting, more easily. With the last step represented by Internet we are confronted with a sort of “activation” in which readers themselves become authors. Yet, this in itself does not automatically result in progress on the level of the public sphere. [...] The classical public sphere stemmed from the fact that the attention of an anonymous public was “concentrated” on a few politically important questions that had to be regulated. This is what the web does not know how to produce. On the contrary, the web actually distracts and dispels." This is how, among many more subjects, Jürgen Habermas comments the evolution of democratic participation in the internet era. Reset-DoC is pleased to republish the translated version of a long interview published last June on the "Frankfurter Rundschau" for the philosopher's eighty-fifth birthday.
This essay by Richard Bernstein, the Vera List Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York, is drawn from a lecture held during the series of conferences "For an inclusive citizenship" organized by Reset-DoC. The conferences were held in Milan at the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli between autumn 2013 and spring 2014. Among other speakers, the conferences have hosted Giuliano Amato, Rainer Bauböck, Michael Walzer, Anna Elisabetta Galeotti, Nilüfer Göle, Susan Mendus and Alain Touraine.
On the eve of the completion of Tunisia’s new constitution, film director, producer, activist with the left wing El Massar and member of the Constituent Assembly Selma Baccar is worried. “In spite of important battles won on many of the constitution’s articles, I have the feeling that the new constitution is a patchwork of linguistic traps, and the wealth of the Arab language provides a very fertile ground, that can result in legislative interpretations based on conformist and reactionary ideas.” At the moment her attention is concentrated on the revision of a number of articles, among them Article 38, which has, for a number of days, been at the centre of controversy. This article has already been approved with an amendment that is a serious threat envisaging the protection “of the roots of Arab-Muslim values” with no openness to the study of foreign languages, civilisations and sciences, and, in her opinion, this will be “a catastrophe” for the education of future generations.
SARAJEVO – Nowadays the body of the young man, who, a century ago, ended the lives of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia sparking an escalation that was to result in World War I, lies in Ciglane, a suburb in central Sarajevo. The body lies in a small chapel with no markings, and is not even shown in tourist guides. The words on the grave written in Cyrillic read: “blessed is he who lives forever as he was not born in vain.”
Cairo - He has put away his camouflage uniform with its insignia and is now wearing civilian clothes. Framed photographs of officers have been put away and replaced by those showing heads of state he met even before taking on the mantle of his country’s ruler. Egypt’s latest strong man , former general Abdel Fattah el Sisi, has become the successor, by plebiscite, of the man he overthrew in July of last year. The electoral plebiscite, taking 97% of the votes of 47% of eligible voters, is not reflected in the graffiti on the walls around the city of Cairo, which you can only see if you keep an eye out 24 hours a day before the authorities correct messages that threaten to disturb the upcoming patriotic festival. If you are slow, things are more boring and grey than usual.