It was obvious that the newly-elected president of the Republic of Serbia, with a political pedigree that is not exactly immaculate such as that of Tomislav Nikolić, a former ultra-nationalist converted to soft conservatism and elected in May’s presidential elections, would be exposed to the spotlights of the international community. And yet, for the moment these spotlights – the burden and the delight of this leader so unaccustomed to making politically correct statements – have only confirmed the president’s hostility for the national pacification path embarked upon by his predecessor Boris Tadić.
Freedom and Democracy
Mauritania is the only country in the world where slavery exists in the real sense of the word with the exception the loathsome sponsor regime in the Gulf. Slavery simply means “ownership of a human being by another human being”; this ownership entitles the owner to treat “the owned” as a commodity that can be sold, purchased and inherited with no qualms, and without the “owned” having any say on their destiny. This shameful practice turns human beings into saleable and pursuable objects, and it so far has managed to sustain itself in Mauritania for various factors. Political corruption, lack of political will, the tribal composition of society, social norms and the vastness of the Mauritanian territory might be cited among many other factors that might explain the continuity of such a practice. Therefore, fighting a socially accepted practice, like slavery, requires a multiform struggle at the human rights, educational and politico-religious levels to deconstruct the politico-religious and social infrastructures that perdure its existence.
“We are building a country, but we haven’t laid its foundation. We still don’t have a constitution and at the moment we don’t know who will be in charge of writing it. How can we go to vote for a president without knowing what powers he will have?” asks Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian writer, activist, physician, psychiatrist and, above all, a pillar of feminist struggle. She has written many books translated into different languages on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital mutilation in her society. Resetdoc has interviewed her in Cairo.
To understand the current situation in Dagestan one must take a step back in time. Radical Islamism is nothing new in Makhachkala, and was already present in the early Nineties when militant Wahabism began to spread, gaining followers and becoming more organised. It was then that Shariat Jamaat was formed, the armed group devoted to expanding the influence of radicalism, without however wanting secession from Moscow as a priority.
The vote for Hollande is not so much as a radical desire for change as a possibly illusory desire to go back to the pre-crisis period. The socialists, however, have also opened up a new alternative approach to the economy. But ‘racism from above’ has led the way on this historic fight over what is normal.
While Bahrain’s government concentrated last weekend exclusively on organizing the Formula 1 GP, those who for over a year have been the victims of a repression shrouded in silence, took advantage of this event to attract the world’s attention to their cause. The winds of the Arab Spring had reached Manama on February 4th 2011, when protesters decided to take to the streets demanding political reform and the departure of the Al-Khalifas, the Sunni royal family that rules the country where there is a Shiite majority. The harshest repression began on March 14th when the government allowed troops into the country sent by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States in the Gulf. One thousand soldiers sent by Saudi King Abdallah arrived in Bahrain with a specific mandate; stop the protests and save King Hamad.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has described the elections as “a crucial bet that we have no choice but to win”, but the entire Algerian political world is looking to these May 10th elections with hope and with fear. What is at stake involves avoiding a new Arab Spring, with which there has only been a brush, for the moment, and the great risk of a low voter turnout.
Broadly, Morocco has been experiencing reform since the 1990s, but mainly since the coming of Mohammed VI to power in 1999. These reform endeavors have improved women’s rights, civil and human rights, press freedom, the business environment, social development, and education. For many, then, the most recent reforms that culminated in the constitution of July 2011, were in the making well before the Arab Spring began. Moroccan leaders acknowledge that the peaceful demonstrations provided an energetic force for its citizens to express their views on reforms under way in Morocco, henceforth hastening the pace of their implementation. Yet, resentment at extreme corruption at all levels in Moroccan society, mostly fed by the governing elite and the monarch’s entourage, economic unfairness and political exclusion brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets in Morocco in the spring of 2011, following the waves of Arab Spring started in Tunisia and Egypt. Although calls for the “end of the regime” were less widespread than in other countries, there was no mistaking the force of the public desire for meaningful reform. Although the response was mild by the standards of some countries, police broke up some demonstrations causing some injuries to members of the public.
“Libya is experiencing a particularly complex transition period. The road is all uphill and the route is especially difficult because it is full of obstacles,” said Amal Obeidi, a professor of comparative politics at the Garyounis University in Benghazi who talked to ResetDoc at a conference entitled “The EU and North Africa On Energy and Migration: What Prospects after the Arab Spring?” organized in Rome by the Istituto Affari Internazionali, the European Commission, Paralleli and the German Marshall Fund.
Although news about ruthless killing of 16 innocent Afghan women and children by a US soldier in Kandahar has shocked the world, the incident was by no means unexpected. A statement issued by NATO head command in that region noted that the assailant committed the crime in a fit of nervous breakdown. A mother, whose young child was killed in the incident, was crying out asking if her two-year child has been a Taliban fighter to deserve such a death? The bereaved mother knew better than NATO commanders that the attack was not the result of a nervous breakdown, but the result of Islamophobia to which this region, especially Afghanistan, has been a victim during the past 10 years. This process of Islamophobia can be clearly seen in the disastrous events which have befallen Afghanistan in the past few months.
Elections in Iran have always had a contradictory meaning. On one hand, they have always been less than free and fair, even when the polls were basically correct, (meaning not materially rigged), because of the vetting of candidates by the Guardian Council. On the other, they have been a flexible mechanism measuring the relative strength of the different components of the regime. Not a democracy, certainly, but a sort of pluralistic oligarchy.