Author: Aijaz Zaka Syed

The Challenge of Change in the Middle East

Patrick Buchanan is one of those few writers I never like to miss.  Having worked as a senior advisor to three US presidents, Buchanan has had a rare, ringside view of history.  Six of his 10 books including The Death of the West, Where the Right Went Wrong, and more recently, Suicide of a Superpower have been New York Times bestsellers. I like Buchanan’s writings for their unsparing, sweeping view of history. He tries to divine the future in the light of the past.  Despite being an old-fashioned Conservative, he has his feet on the ground. He was one of those few voices on the right that attacked America’s indefensible wars. In his latest piece in the American Conservative, Buchanan argues that the biggest winner this year is Islam. In the article titled, Second Period of Islamic Power, Buchanan says: “From Morocco to Pakistan, a great awakening is occurring. The most dramatic example of Islam rising again came in Egypt, with the fall of the 60-year-old military dictatorship. The West hailed the coming of democracy but democracy delivered a rude shock. In the first round of voting, over 60 percent of ballots were for the Muslim Brotherhood or the radical Islamist Nour Party. In the second round, 75 percent voted Islamist. In Tunis and Tripoli, too, the overthrow of autocrats revealed a silent majority sympathetic to Islamism.” Buchanan talks of...

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Needed: An Arab Spring for America

When you stand upside down on your head, the world looks upturned too.  So it’s just as well that US presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich thinks the Palestinians are an “invented people.” He told the US Jewish Channel: “I think we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. They had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel since the 1940s, and it’s tragic.” Gingrich’s pearls of wisdom have stunned even those who have long been used to the lopsided nature of US politics and the hostility with which the Arabs and Palestinians are viewed by the US establishment. You wouldn’t take these views seriously if it wasn’t for the fact that Gingrich is not just any US politician playing to his part of the gallery, but a former speaker of House of Representatives and Republican frontrunner for the White House.  He could face President Obama in next year’s polls and, if elected, could end up in the most powerful office on the planet. Compared to Gingrich, our friend George W. Bush comes across as the apostle of peace and very epitome of sweet reason. This dangerous disconnect with reality is not an exception but the norm.  Gingrich represents the larger reality of US politics.  While...

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Islamists Reap the Harvest of Arab Spring

Inspired by the French Revolution, William Wordsworth, the Romantic known for celebration of nature and hopeless odes to the Lake District wrote: Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven! Oh, times, In which the meager, stale, forbidding ways Of custom, law, and statute took at once The attraction of a country in romance! A country in romance indeed. Watching the Egyptians, young and old, men and women, patiently wait in endless, serpentine queues to cast their vote, it’s hard not to get touched by their infectious enthusiasm.  Yet this is a country that was far from free only months ago. And to a great extent it’s still far from free.  Hosni Mubarak’s comrades in arm are still in charge.  Yet something has changed dramatically with the first vote cast this week. Egypt will never be the same again.  Who says the Middle East and democracy do not go together? It’s not perfect, of course.  Democracy, like revolution, is a work in progress.  And now that the Egyptians have started taking baby steps towards that elusive dawn of hope, they will get there. Inshaallah.  The journey of a thousand miles, as the Chinese argue, begins with one decisive step.  And Egypt and the Middle East have taken that step. The journey that began with the desperate protest of Mohammed Bouazizi in...

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