Egypt's Crisis the Result of Pressing Global Issues

Posted on Thu, Jul 04, 2013 @ 11:07 AM


The current dramatic situation in Egypt, with the overturn of the democratically-elected Morsi government by the army, will perhaps have further repercussions in the Arab world. It was, after all, in response to popular discontent over Morsi's troubled year in office that the military made its move, supported by Islamic, Coptic and secular leaders. It demonstrates, if nothing else, that the search for good government will continue to motivate humanity. Historian Hugh Brogan has said, "If human beings, as political animals, are to progress further, they cannot yet rest from seeking new forms of government to meet the ever-new needs of their times."

Global Problems, Global Solutions,
Part 4: Failed Government

Coincidentally, we've been working on a new video series to examine solutions to some of these "ever-new needs"—our most pressing global problemsincluding the failure of government systems.

The series, titled Global Problems, Global Solutions, delves into various aspects of the human condition and makes the case that at the root of every difficulty people face, there is a spiritual cause and a spiritual solution. 

In the four-part series we look at some macro-issues facing the entire human race. These include the global arms race and the business of war, the threat on global food and water supplies, injustice and genocide, and failed government. In each episode, we talk about why these issues are the most threatening to global stability and security and identify the thinking that must be at the forefront of any solution.

Over the past couple of years we have seen many challenges to governments around the world. Most recently the world has witnessed turmoil sweeping Arab nations, and there has been much violence and bloodshed as the reaction against existing governments has continued to spread. In one sense this is nothing new; human beings have been trying to find the best form of governance for thousands of years.

Today the vast majority want to live under liberal democracy. But even in the more stable democracies such as those in Europe and the United States, people have lost faith in their governments to solve the big problems society faces. In this latest nine-minute video, we offer some thoughts about the spiritual mindset it will take to bring about better government.


Tags: middle east politics, egypt current events, failed government, global issues, Middle East Conflict

Middle East Peace off the Map over Disputed Land E1

Posted on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 @ 04:53 PM

middle east conflictAbout 12 years ago I interviewed the mayor of the Israeli West Bank settlement, Maale Adumim. Benny Kashriel told me then that his city would eventually become part of Jerusalem, being linked to it by annexed contiguous land. Indeed he regarded Maale Adumim as part of the Jerusalem metroplis even then and had publicity brochures that proclaimed as much. The still open and barren land separating the two cities is known as Development Area EI (East 1).

Now it is back in the headlines following the upgrading of Palestine to non-member observer state by an overwhelming UN vote. Seemingly in retaliation, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu revived Israeli planning activity in the E1 sector making way for construction of up to 3400 housing units there and in other parts of Jerusalem. As tensions rise in this tit-for-tat scrapping, attempts at Middle East peace are once again on hold. The reality is that if E1 becomes a developed area between Israeli-held East Jerusalem and the 40,000 Israeli residents of Maale Adumim, the possibility of a Palestinian State with meaningful access between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank and with East Jerusalem as its capital, becomes a much more complicated prospect and perhaps moot if compromises over road connections fail.

It was the Labor government of Yitzhak Rabin that created the E1 area in 1994 in support of Maale Adumim (which Rabin had authorized in 1976). The city is regarded as a gateway to Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley. As a result, it seems unlikely that any Israeli government will give up the strategically positioned enclave, preferring rather to enhance its security by connecting it materially to Jerusalem. 

Tags: jerusalem, Middle East Peace, Israeli-Palestian conflict, middle east politics, israel, Palestine

Defining the Middle East All Over Again

Posted on Fri, Dec 12, 2008 @ 02:18 PM

Robert Kaplan revises the definition of the Middle East—from the Mediterranean to Burma

Defining the Middle East has long been an awkward task. Robert Kaplan, writing in the NYT, believes it should include a much greater area and that the Mumbai terrorist attacks lend credence to his position. Certainly, there is confusion over what comprises the region. Standard textbooks in Political Science and International Relations can't seem to agree. Here's a selection:

In The Foreign Policies of Middle East States (2002), Hinnebusch and Ehteshami have a map labeled "The Middle East (the Arab League plus Iran, Israel and Turkey)." There are 22 countries in the Arab League. They stretch from Mauritania in the far west of Africa to Oman, east of Saudi Arabia. The League includes Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, the Comores in the Indian Ocean and three observer states Eritrea, India, and Venezuela. To be fair, the Arab League's observers were added in 2003, 2006 and 2007.

The map in Politics in the Middle East (2000) by Bill and Springborg shows an area that stretches from Morocco (including Western Sahara) to Pakistan. It excludes Somalia and Djibouti and includes Turkey, Israel, Iran and Afghanistan.

The cover on State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (2004) by Roger Owen, shows Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, part of Afghanistan and part of Pakistan. Inside, there's a 20th century inter-war map of the Middle East, showing an area from Morocco to Iran and from Turkey to Sudan.

Monte Palmer’s The Politics of the Middle East (2006) has a map bounded on the west by Egypt and Sudan, on the east by Iran, on the north by Turkey on the south by Yemen. In his written definition of the Middle East, Palmer says,

The Middle East is generally defined as the vast geographic area that embraces North Africa and much of Western Asia. As indicated on the adjacent map, it is bordered on the south by the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, on the north by Greece and Eastern Europe, and on the northeast by Afghanistan, Russia, and the newly independent states of Central Asia. The latter could reasonably be considered part of the Middle East, for most are Islamic in character and many have strong cultural and ethnic links to Turkey and Iran. Much the same could be said of Afghanistan.

And according to Politics and Change in the Middle East (2008) by Anderson, Seibert and Wagner,

The term Middle East raises some problems for it originates in recent Western military usage and uses present national boundaries that cut across historically significant cultural and geographic divisions. The reference to the region as part of the East reveals a European bias; from a larger perspective of the whole civilized area stretching from Western Europe and East Asia, the so-called Middle East is located toward the West and has close cultural ties with the Mediterranean region as a whole. Despite these problems, we shall follow the more or less established convention and define the Middle East as the region bounded on the north west by Turkey, on the southwest by Egypt, on the southeast by the Arabian Peninsula and on the northeast by Iran. It must be remembered that this division is arbitrary, and the bordering regions such as Afghanistan and the Sudan and North Africa have much in common with their "Middle Eastern" neighbors.

Finally, let's consider Fred Halliday’s view in The Middle East in International Relations (2005):

It was in this context, of Ottoman retreat and inter-European rivalry, that the modern concept of the 'Middle East' was born. Hitherto other, more specific, terms had been used--the 'Near East' referred to those Arab areas that border the eastern Mediterranean, the 'Levant to the same, 'Asia Minor' to the Turkish landmass that divided the Arab world from Russia. 'Araby' was a half-political, half-literary term, sometimes denoting the Peninsula, sometimes the Arab East as a whole, sometimes an imaginary zone of Amirs, harems and tents. Coined by the American Admiral Mahan in 1902, the term 'Middle East' reflected a new awareness of the unity not only of the Ottoman domains, but all those wider areas, former Ottoman provinces, Arabia and Iran, which lay between Europe and India and the Far East: the 'Middle' distinguished it from these areas. 'Middle East' became indeed the term used in the languages of the region itself….. Yet despite its apparently general acceptance, this was not a term universally used in the west, where some foreign ministries still continued to use 'Near East' to distinguish these countries from Arabia and Iran. Only after 1945 did the term 'Middle East' acquire a quite general and the national currency. In Russia the western sense of the term was never adopted: there the distinction was between … 'Central East,' that is those countries which bordered Russia and later the USSR--Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan--and.... Near East, in effect the Arab world.

Quite a range of definitions. On this basis, Kaplan's new/old Greater Near East may have traction.

Tags: middle east politics, definition middle east, international relations, political science, robert kaplan, Middle East Conflict

Middle East Politics Online

Posted on Sun, Dec 07, 2008 @ 02:22 PM

USC class Blogs to understand the Middle East, its conflicts and possibilities
Middle East Politics Net

The class I've been teaching this semester at the University of Southern California is almost over. The 33 students have posted well over 600 entries on the associated blog  presenting information focused on 12 countries in this very diverse region.

They have learned a lot in a short time and the blogging requirement has been part of their almost daily routine. They even heard from two guest lecturers on the finer points of of social media use, search engine optimization and effective blog posting.

Tags: Middle East Peace, middle east politics, classroom blogging, Middle East Conflict