Discussing Assad’s Speech at the Opera House

“It was operatic in its otherworldly fantasy, unrelated to realities outside the building,” wrote Rami Khouri of Bashaar al-Assad’s latest speech, delivered as the bombs fell on southern Damascus. I was a guest on the BBC World Service to discuss the speech alongside Patrick Seale (Hafez al-Assad’s biographer), Syria Comment’s Joshua Landis, Faisal Yafai of the National, and Dr Yazan Abdullah. You can listen to the conversation here. (I fear it may not be accessible beyond the UK).

The evolution of Arab revolutions

The Arab Spring is in full bloom. Peaceful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt sparked a democratic tide that has swept across the region.

In Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, it is now a tale of two protests, with the situation deteriorating into widespread violence and outright war.

It seems some regimes will stop at nothing to resist change. So with no unified leadership or clear agenda, and with domestic complications in each and every country, is this truly a revolution? And if this is an Awakening — what path will it follow — that of Turkey? Of Iran? Or rather a third way, an Arab way. Empire finds out.

Continue reading “The evolution of Arab revolutions”

Inside Story: US-Israeli ties under pressure

Al Jazeera’s Inside Story features interviews on regional and US responses to Netanyahu’s US-pitched speech, though the episode has the somewhat overstated title ‘US-Israeli ties under pressure’ (would that they were!). Kamahl Santamaria talks to Abdul-Bari Atwan, Editor-in-chief of Al Quds Al-Arabi; Patrick Seale, veteran Middle East analyst; and Aaron Miller, former US State Department adviser. While Al Jazeera is not without its own editorial biases, Abdul-Bari Atwan’s views are well aired and merit attention here.