Democracy is no panacea

“ When there is a systematic link between cultural identity and economic status, democracy becomes a problem, rather than a solution . It exacerbates cultural conflicts to the point of violence, because it provides a formal opportunity for the majority to force their will on the minority . “Whoever wants democracy under these conditions must first come up with a creative and consensual formula, according to which each cultural group would be free to live its unique cultural life without attempting to force its identity and customs on the entire citizen body .” - Lev Grinberg , Professor of...

US, China and Russia back ICC probe into Libya crimes against humanity

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted an arms embargo against Libya, a travel and assets ban on Moamer Gaddafi's regime and ordered a crimes against humanity investigation into the bloodshed. The vote is thought to be the first time the Security Council has voted unanimously to refer a member state to the International Criminal Court. Notable is the support by the United States , Russia and China for referring Libya to the ICC. China and Russia have traditionally resisted sanctions against governments. The US, which is not a member of the ICC, abstained when the Darfur conflict in...

‘Britain must be on the right side of struggling peoples’

“The honest truth is that part of the support western governments offered the likes of President Mubarak was because he appeared to be a guarantor of stability in the region. “The central assumption of the durability of long-standing and unpleasant regimes has been swept away. This change in circumstance has left many of the old orthodoxies seeming out of date and on the wrong side of history . “ It is clear that stability based on the suppression of [popular] demands is no genuine stability at all and serves neither the interests of the people of these countries nor those of the wider...

Liberal ideas that spark rebellion

“[Liberal] ideas, to a large extent nurtured in the hothouse of Western consciousness and then innocently exported as a sign of goodwill … might originally be intended only as public relations move. “ But over time such ideas gave rise to the dreams of the oppressed and victimised - and when the unexpected historical moment finally arrived, burst into flame . “Ideas may be disseminated with conservative intent, but if they later become appropriated on behalf of the struggles of oppressed peoples, such ideas are reborn - and serve as the underpinnings of a new emancipatory politics. “ Nothing...

The role of the Libyan Diaspora

“ The Libyan Diaspora has a significant role to play in this uprising . Though undeniably important, it is not enough for Libyans to protest outside embassies overseas. Due to Qaddafi’s shut down of the Internet, the Diaspora has become more important, particularly in spreading information about gatherings … and pressuring the international community to support the well-deserved and long overdue freedom for the Libyan people.” - Ibrahim Sharqieh , Deputy Director of The Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. See his comment here . “We are also listening to the voices of the Libyan diaspora,...

South Yemenis protest – for independence

Amid mass demonstrations in the Middle East, around 3,000 people took to the streets across southern Yemen last week in a "Friday of Rage", demanding secession from the north, but heavily deployed security forces quickly stamped out protests. See Reuters’ report here , and AFP’s here . President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key U.S. ally against al Qaeda, has ruled Yemen for three decades. The south was independent from 1967 until 1990 when it united with the north. It launched an abortive secession bid in 1994, crushed by Saleh’s forces, and is still home to an active secessionist movement. Many in...

Britain's business with Gaddafi

“ We don’t decide between countries we trade with on the basis of whether they are nice or not. There are lots of regimes around the world. If we didn’t trade with them we would be shooting ourselves in the foot. ” - Libyan British Business Council director-general Robin Lamb, Feb 22. See the Daily Mail’s report here . UK trade with Libya is worth an estimated £1.5billion a year, with British exports soaring more than 50% between 2008 and 2009. And Libya’s newly well-off have attracted other firms, including British high street chains Next, Monsoon, Accessorize and Marks & Spencer. On...

‘US, EU, and UN have a responsibility to protect’

“We, the undersigned non-governmental, human rights, and humanitarian organizations, urge you to mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people. The inexcusable silence cannot continue. … There is no question here about intent. The government media has published open threats [against demonstrators]. … You have a clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect the people of Libya.” - letter by 70 NGOs. Feb 21, 2011. See the full text, and list of signatories...

Whither ‘string of pearls’?

James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, associate professors of strategy at the US Naval War College, write on the much-quoted ‘string of pearls’ theory: “A subset of the larger debate over Chinese sea power is Beijing’s supposed quest for a ‘string of pearls’, or network of Indian Ocean naval bases. The term originated in a classified Booz Allen study and was popularized by the Washington Times in 2005. “ Few Indian Ocean specialists still view the string of pearls as a nascent base network … They are more apt to scoff at the term. So fierce was the backlash that Booz Allen undertook a new study...

France and India

“[India’s] economic and strategic relationship with France is expanding. France is also emerging as an important supplier of our defence equipment and platform. … France is a strategic partner.” - India’s Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. See PTI’s story here . France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India. Between April 2000 and November 2010, France has invested about $2 billion in India.

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