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.
Classical Islamic philosophy has broadly been a philosophy of reconciliation between reason and revelation. It has tried to differentiate itself from Greek – and now Western philosophy – but it does not seem to have established some other norm than reason as the key to philosophy. Even what is called rational theology, theosophy, and Sufism have all used reason to empower revelation. Yet, some voices of contemporary Islamic philosophy – very few in fact - are trying to re-ground philosophy and its practice, by making ethics, and not reason, the essence of man and philosophy. This view will be presented gradually into three complementary pieces and steps (Islamic Philosophy I, II, III).
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.
Is there such a thing as a leftist foreign policy? What are the characteristic views of the left about the world abroad? When have leftists, rightly or wrongly, defended the use of force? The arguments about what to do in Syria have led me to ask these questions, but I am after a more general answer, looking not only at the left as it is today but also at the historical left. The questions aren’t easy—first, because there have been, and there are, many lefts; and second, because left views about foreign policy change more often than left views about domestic society. Relative consistency is the mark of leftism at home, but that’s definitely not true abroad.
Rio de Janeiro - “The giant has awoken.” This was the mantra that, one year ago, accompanied the beginning of the phase of upheaval of the Brazilian people against their own ruling class and social injustice in a country of fierce inequalities. Never before had hundreds of thousands of people paraded down the streets of Rio de Janeiro and of other cities. Never, since the time former president Collor was impeached in the 90’s. Never, to cry out to the world the suffocating reality of the country, so victimized by its own preconceptions and by a shiny and unreal image, that it cannot show itself in its deepest aspect of tragedy. Certainly not from abroad, where the “myth” of the ever-happy Brazilian has finally had to stand face to face with the images of the enormous protests.
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.
Iraq no longer exists as a unified state. The Kurdish north is moving towards increasingly greater autonomy that sooner or later will become outright independence; the Shiite south increasingly gravitate towards Iran, and the Sunni central region is home to the new-born, so-called caliphate proclaimed by ISIS, the jihadist-qaedist organisation that aims to redefine the Levant’s political framework. An otherwise little-known character, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has proclaimed himself “caliph” of this supposed new Sunni state.
Massimo Rosati died suddenly after suffering a stroke. He was not yet 45 years old. “Reset” has lost a friend and a tireless co-worker, with his ideas, his blog and the projects we shared. His death was completely unexpected, and the suddenness of this break in friendly and productive contacts, in working relations, is unbelievable and painful. Until just a short moment ago there were the normal and trivial efforts made to find a suitable date for a conference on “Religion and the web”, or to plan a series of seminars and a book on religion as a “war and peace” factor.