Showing posts from December, 2011

Understanding the 'New' Egypt

The real questions for Egypt

In an interview with Ezzat Ibrahim, John L. Esposito*, a leading American scholar of Islamic affairs, examines the aftermath of the upheavals of the Arab Spring and the rise of the Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia
Al-Ahram, 29 December 2011 - 4 January 2012; Issue No. 1078

What was your reading of the results of the first rounds of the Egyptian parliamentary elections?

A couple of things, I think. As many expected, the Muslim Brotherhood did well, and this was the case for a variety of reasons. You don't have a strong multi-party system yet in Egypt, for example. I wrote earlier that in both the Tunisian and Egyptian cases, the Islamists could be expected to get around 40 per cent of the vote. However, what has surprised many people was the rise of the Salafis, which had been relatively politically invisible for many of us in terms of the political scene. I think that with the emergence of the Salafis, we have seen them emerging politically and there has bee…

How Obama Can Fix U.S.- Pakistani Relations - Foreign Affairs

How Obama Can Fix U.S.-Pakistani Relations
Helping Islamabad Through The Democratic Transition
Hassan Abbas; Foreign Affairs; December 21, 2011
The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has become defined by mutual dissatisfaction and by impatience on both sides. The November 26 NATO operation in Pakistan's northwestern tribal area, which led to the deaths of more than two dozen Pakistani soldiers, is a case in point. In a recent town hall meeting in Islamabad with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an audience member complained that the United States is "like a mother-in-law." "We are trying to please you," she said, "and every time you come and visit us you have a new idea."

The problem, of course, is larger than any American failure to consistently convey its preferences to Pakistan, such as its requests that Pakistan stop distinguishing between "good" Taliban and "bad" Taliban and it aid Washington in defeating the insurgency in Afg…

Belfer Centre Policy Paper: "The Exaggerated Threat of American Muslim "Homegrown" Terrorism"

"The Exaggerated Threat of American Muslim "Homegrown" Terrorism" Policy Brief, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy SchoolDecember 14, 2011; Author: Risa Brooks This policy brief is based on "Muslim 'Homegrown' Terrorism in the United States: How Serious Is the Threat?" which appears in the fall 2011 issue ofInternational Security. BOTTOM LINES

A Common Misperception. Despite warnings by public officials and terrorism analysts, there is little evidence that the risk of terrorist attacks in the United States by American Muslims is especially serious or growing.Rare and Unsophisticated Attacks. Terrorist plots by American Muslims are not growing in sophistication, and terrorists' capacities to acquire skills from overseas training are limited. In addition, contrary to concerns that so-called lone wolves will increasingly attempt terrorist attacks that are difficult to foil, there have been only two shootings in th…

The Myth and Reality of Musharraf - Benazir Deal in 2007

Rice reveals all about Benazir-Musharraf NRO deal Says Musharraf was imposing martial
Shaheen Sehbai, The News, December 15, 2011 WASHINGTON: The big official secret of the NRO deal, brokered by the United States between then President Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, has been revealed in full detail by its sponsor, the former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in her memoirs published here.

She admits everything and reveals all. In graphic detail, Condi has disclosed in her book, “No Higher Honor”, how she toiled for many sleepless nights to bring Musharraf and Benazir together in 2007.

It is for the first time that any American leader has admitted, and so bluntly, that Washington had played the key role to bring the two “moderates”, Musharraf and Benazir, together and a deal was arranged. There have been a number of reports and wide speculation about who brokered the deal but never was this confirmed at such an authentic level.

Coming at a time when President Zardari is serio…

A Good Primer on Islamic Political Parties of Pakistan

Islamic Parties in PakistanAsia Report N°21612 Dec 2011 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The ability of Pakistan’s radical Islamic parties to mount limited but potentially violent opposition to the government has made democratic reform, and by extension the reduction of religious extremism and development of a more peace­ful and stable society, more challenging. This is a reflection of those parties’ well-organised activist base, which is committed to a narrow partisan agenda and willing to defend it through violence. While their electoral support remains limited, earlier Islamisation programs have given them a strong legal and political apparatus that enables them to influence policy far beyond their numerical strength. An analysis of party agendas and organisation, as well as other sources of influence in judicial, political and civil society institutions, is therefore vital to assessing how Pakistan’s main religious parties apply pressure on government, as well as the ability a…

The Global Message of Karbala

History Lessons From Karbala
By Dr. Hassan Abbas, AfPak Channel at Foreign Policy, Sunday, December 11, 2011; Asia Society, Monday, December 12, 2011

The idea of defiance against tyranny and oppression owes a great deal to Hussain ibne Ali, the hero of the battle of Karbala in 680 AD. With just 72 valiant followers and family members, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad faced the military might of the Muslim empire ruled then by a despot, Yazid bin Mu‘awiya. Hussain refused to sanctify Yazid's reign through baya'a(allegiance) and consequently, he and his small contingent were martyred in the most brutal of fashions. The accompanying women and children were imprisoned for months in the dark alleys of Damascus.

On every Ashura, the 10th day of the Muslim calendar month of Muharram (which fell on December 6 this year), many Muslims all across the world commemorate Hussain's great sacrifice, but tragically the central message of Karbala appears to evade the broader Muslim thinking…

U.S. Aid to Pakistan: Is it producing desired results?

Why Pakistan still needs U.S. assistance
By Jane Harman and and Robert M. Hathaway, 
Washington Post, December 1, 2011

Pakistan will soon have the fifth-largest population in the world. It already has the seventh-largest army and is close to overtaking Britain as the fifth-largest nuclear power. The country’s location, demographic heft, military might, nuclear weapons capability and links to Islamist terrorists ensure that it will remain central to U.S. interests even after NATO forces depart Afghanistan.

In other words, as much as some might like it to be otherwise, writing Pakistan out of the U.S. foreign policy script is not an option. This is true even in the aftermath of last weekend’s NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, triggering yet another crisis in the tortured U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Two years ago, when one of us served in Congress, there was robust debate over the nature of the U.S. relationship with Pakistan — the need for more civilian control…