30 Jun 2011

‘The Indictment’: A Thriller lacking in action. The STL Predicament



So we finally have it. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) indictment in the Hariri murder case has been handed to the Lebanese General Prosecutor Sa’id Mirza. Although the indictment itself has not been made public yet, its contents have been widely leaked  in keeping with the STL’s shoddy record. The indictment reportedly names four suspects implicated in the assassination, all members of Hezbollah. The General Prosecutor has thirty days to arrest the suspects before the indictment is made public. The STL’s fondness for delayed gratification is exemplary, an attitude that seems to be shared by Lebanese politicians now. The responses to the indictment so far have been largely evasive, reflecting a lack of eagerness to bring things to a conclusion. Inaction will be the main headline for the foreseeable future.  

24 Jun 2011

A short handbook to revolution: Six myths about the Arab uprisings


The spectacular and expeditious ousting of Mubarak and Ben-Ali from their long-held positions of power left many scrambling for a convenient interpretation. What largely emerged however were hastily constructed narratives designed more to confirm their authors’ convictions than to reveal meaning. It didn’t take long for those accounts to be rattled when the subsequent uprisings did not adhere to the neat model observed in Egypt and Tunisia. Libya’s uprising was the first to deviate from the script, followed by Bahrain, Yemen and lastly Syria. As we encounter complex situations threatening extended periods of instability, it's time to dispel some of the lingering myths about the uprisings.

20 Jun 2011

The Syrian Uprising: the Prospect of a Protracted Stalemate and Western Intervention

Note: A German version of this article has been published at Novo Argumente

Three months on and it’s clear that the Syrian uprising is not lacking in stamina. While it may have seemed for a while back in February that Syria was immune from the uprisings that swept across the Arab world, it didn’t take long for a minor spark to set in motion a series of demonstrations across the country. The Syrian regime’s authority was quickly undermined as the Syrian people took to the streets demanding freedom and political reform. The harsh retaliation has not succeeded so far in putting down the protest movement that comes alive every Friday in Syrian cities and towns. But it is also clear that the Syrian Uprising has failed to attain the critical mass required to stage large-scale demonstrations in the capital Damascus or the largest city Aleppo. The sporadic nature of both the uprising and the government’s retaliation points to a protracted struggle that is likely to go on for some time. As the prospect of a stalemate becomes more evident, calls for external intervention are becoming more persistent. Such calls represent a real danger to the prospects for  change.

18 Jun 2011

13 Jun 2011

The Cabinet of Curiosities: Is Lebanon finally abandoning consensual politics?




The long wait is over. Lebanon finally has a new cabinet following four and a half months of intense haggling, horse-trading and political paralysis that coincided with one of the most tumultuous periods in the region. Earlier today Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati announced the formation of the new cabinet that some have imaginatively labeled ‘one-sided’, in reference to the supposed predominance of March 8 figures within it. The complicated manoeuvres that paved the way for its formation should dispel any illusions that this cabinet is one-sided in any politically meaningful way. Nevertheless, because of the exclusion of March 14 figures from its ranks it leaves the country with something resembling a parliamentary opposition. Below are several preliminary observations on the significance of this situation and the character of this cabinet: