March 19 to 23, 2012

With the uprising of the arab spring, we witnessed popular mobilization on a whole new level, but phrased in terms that seemed to fall between liberalism, leftism, and Islamism, but perhaps having had nothing to do with ideologies in the first place. Maybe the compulsion to plot the uprisings into existing ideological registers merely displays the poverty of our analytical categories, or a lack of imagination.

Fourteen months after the flight into exile of dictator Ben Ali, many Tunisians are plunged into doubt. The intoxication of the hard-won freedom has given way to a concern that is still expressed in Tunis on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of independence during a demonstration in which thousands of citizens including shouted « the people want a civil state (secular) », « No to the retrograde spirit, no to the caliphate. »

The diplomatic gridlock at the United Nations appeared to have eased when Security Council members agreed to pass a statement calling for an end to the violence in Syria. The move came as the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a grave warning about the « massive repercussions » which could result from the continued bloodshed in Syria.

It is possible to identify six strategic blunders which Israel has made in recent decades, and  under the far-right government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. The first of these errors, from which several of the others spring, is Israel’s adamant refusal to allow the emergence of a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. The others are the evident intention of creating a Greater Israel, Netanyahu’s febrile warmongering against Iran, its permanent aggressive posture, its murderous attitude towards Gaza and Israel’s failure to understand that now is the time to make peace, not war.

The strategies chosen by the Syrian regime to fight off the challenge against it have intensified sectarian divisions. A prolonged civil war that further consolidates these divisions is likely to engulf neighboring Lebanon and Iraq, both of which have had their own sectarian calamities, and put pressure on Jordan and Turkey and possibly Israel. On the other hand, the fate of the regime and the future course of the country will also be determined by the geopolitical games that have intensified in the wake of the American withdrawal from Iraq.

The confusion prevailing among the leaders of the Egyptian Church and the disputes among them over Pope Shenouda’s funerals yesterday, reflected the status of the Copts following the departure of the man on whom they always relied to resolve their differences with the ruling regime, and always held responsible whenever a delay affected a reaction which satisfied them on the state’s end toward events related to their safety throughout more than four decades.