19 Oct 2012

Interview with The Guardian on the Situation in Syria

I was interviewed by The Guardian about the situation in Syria, the role of the SNC and other opposition groups, and the general prospects of the Syrian uprising. Read an excerpt here or listen to the audio version here.

9 Oct 2012

Slavoj Žižek: Romney, Big Bird, and the prospect of avian apocalypse

A brilliant take by Slavoj Žižek about Romney and Big Bird, which I am republishing here with complete disregard to copyrights.

The bourgeois media and the Democratic party machine were confounded by Mitt Romney’s invocation of Big Bird during the first US presidential debate, a sentiment that soon gave way to cynical amusement and playground mockery. But Romney had inadvertently revealed a deep truth about the Capitalist canon’s troubled relationship with oversized birds. Birds at once represent freedom, a visual cliché widely used by Liberal parties around the world depicting a bird in flight, never in repose, and the possibility of being devoured by the feathered creatures that have learned to negotiate gravity far better than un-mechanised humans could ever do. Romney’s Big Bird metaphor deserves more analysis than it was given by the mainstream media arm of the post-wage capitalist complex.

Icarus meets Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was a seminal revelatory moment of this troubled relationship with avian species that capitalism has obsessed about. Hitchcock’s vision was the inverted dystopia of that fragile peace we have established with birds through an economy of breadcrumbs. It is not accidental that the Reagan-Thatcher trickle-down effect has also been discussed in terms of breadcrumbs. Abandoning social safety nets for the sake of an organic redistribution mechanism driven by aggressive growth was a central pillar of the Late Capitalist Order of the 80s, the Thatcherite fantasy of forcing more and more people to leave the perceived safety of the welfare state nest, if you excuse the pun.

4 Oct 2012

The Louvre Islamic Wing - BBC Radio 3 Night Waves Programme

Listen to the BBC Radio 3 Night Waves Programme about the new Louvre Islamic Wing, broadcast on 25 September 2012. We discuss the political context around the gallery, its architecture and the fantastic art works exhibited. We also visit a different type of institution that deals with Islamic art and culture, L’Institut des Cultures d’Islam and talk to its director, Véronique Rieffel.  

On Middle East Expertise: The Decline of Narrative

Since the beginning of the Arab uprisings I must have read hundreds of analytical and opinion pieces about the dynamics of the revolts and the role that external powers are playing. The one thing that stands out clearly to me after nearly two years is the total lack of a principled approach among the multitude of analysts and experts writing about the region. While it’s clear that many are now sceptical about the notion of expertise itself, I myself still believe in the role that specialised analysts can play based on extensive study of the historic literature and thorough observation of current developments.

Such a cold analytical approach seems to be at odds with the visceral emotive form of discourse that revolutions produce, but also with the humanitarian prism through which we now almost exclusively see events in other parts of the world. It’s probably that context that is responsible for both the proliferation and impotence of expertise. We are approaching a point at which independent detached observation is becoming obsolete, despite the fact that it is urgently needed.

2 Oct 2012

Pamela Geller: A Letter of Love to Muslimics

In her continuing effort to build bridges with the Arab world, we have received the following article from Pamela Geller which we are publishing below. We decided to keep Ms. Geller's unique style of grammar and punctuation in the interest of authenticity, even though it doesn't resemble the English language as everyone else understands it. 

To Muslimanics everywhere, I say I have a message of love. I love for you to stay where you are. Stop coming to America and, trying to change our freedom-loving ways. You notice that I am big on love. You must have seen the famous photo of me, I am wearing a necklace that says ‘LOVE’. Someone once told me that’s ironic. But I didn’t understand his fancy liberal university talk.

Claire Danes and 'Homeland' in Beirut

In the new season of the American series 'Homeland', Claire Danes' character, a CIA agent, visits Beirut. The scenes were actually filmed in Israel for an unexplained reason. The first image is a still from the series, in a place that doesn't look like Beirut at all. We offer these alternative images.