By Ghassan Izzi
The Syrian uprising has placed Hizbullah in a predicament in terms of its ability to maintain its alliance with the Syrian regime and also enjoy the sympathy of the Arab people, especially that of the Syrians These issues may be understood through a number of indicators. There have been suggestions that Hizbullah is attempting to support the perpetuation of the Syrian regime but is, at the same time, preparing for a post-Asad Syria.
By Afro-Middle East Centre
The uprisings that spread across the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region from the beginning of 2011 not only caught global and regional powers unaware, but also upturned seemingly entrenched regimes that had maintained a veneer of strategic stability for western powers. In the ensuing tumult of uprisings that saw a re-shuffling of alliances and power blocs, spaces opened for regional players to jostle to assert their agendas and scramble for ascendancy. In the ensuing scuffle, few would have predicted that tiny Qatar would emerge alongside Iran and Turkey as a significant player. Interestingly, because of the physical diminutiveness of the state with a native population of only 225 000, its strategic influence and potential was previously largely overlooked. This has been to Qatar's advantage, allowing it – and its extensive role in the uprisings – to evade the sort of global scrutiny that its positions and actions might otherwise have attracted.
Responding to demands of “Mubarak out!”, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced earlier this week that he would stay in power until presidential elections in September, and will oversee the formation of a new government and of constitutional amendments which will allow opposition candidates to run for president.
The announcement was made on the eighth day of national protests, when two million Egyptians occupied various city centres to protest against Mubarak’s three-decade rule. Predictably, the protesters were unimpressed, and continued demanding his removal.
Fazila Farouk of SACSIS talks to Na'eem Jeenah of the Afro-Middle East Centre about developments in the Middle East, particularly, given the threat of external military intervention looming over Syria and the undoing of the Egyptian revolution, where a military coup has unseated a democratically elected government.
Both the revolution in Egypt and the calls for the removal of Syria's dictator are rooted in the struggles and mobilization of ordinary people on the ground. The problem is that citizens' action is not leading to the realization of democratic rights for the people of the Middle East. Jeenah addresses this problem and its implications for citizens' action in South Africa.
Transcript Of Interview
FAZILA FAROUK: Welcome to the South African Civil Society Information Service, I'm Fazila Farouk coming to you this morning from the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg.
We're at the Afro-Middle East Centre because we're going to focus our discussion this morning on events in the Middle East, which as you know have been very much in the news these past few weeks. Starting with Egypt's failed revolution a few weeks back when a military coup removed the democratically elected government and reinstalled Egypt's generals and then moving on to the situation in Syria, which as we all know, is incredibly topical at the moment with the Obama administration threatening military action on the Syrian government for what it claims are chemical attacks that took place, and which it blames the Syrian government for.
Helping us to make sense of these issues, this morning is Na'eem Jeenah, the director of the Afro-Middle East Centre.
Welcome to SACSIS Na'eem.
NA'EEM JEENAH: Thank you, Fazila.
FAZILA FAROUK: I'd like you to unpack for us what is going on in the Middle East. We'll start with Syria, particularly, the popular movement that called for the removal of a dictator that's now being co-opted by forces much bigger than itself.
We've seen what's happened in Syria; we've seen the failed revolution of Egypt, which has its roots in citizens' action. The problem is that citizens' action is not leading to the realization of democratic rights for people in the Middle East. And I'd like to have a conversation about that and its meaning for South Africa.