On Madiba’s Passing

Amarji Special

He was a great man. He had a difficult life, the last 23 years notwithstanding. It took much pain for him to get there: to freedom. Though he saw his dream fulfilled, I am sure he was aware of the toll of it all, on himself, on his nation, and I am sure he was weary near the end and ready for rest. I am also sure that he was whole and fulfilled. He was surrounded by loved-ones, and his legacy was undeniable. Very few people will ever have this chance: dying while whole and fulfilled. It needs to be earned, and Madiba definitely earned it. His memory will live on, his legacy will be remembered and humanity will be better because he had once lived. But the fuckups will continue, and many of them will be committed by those who claim to have appreciated and understood his legacy. But those who really appreciate act, they don’t grandstand. I, for one, am not sure where I fit. I am still trying to understand I guess. I haven’t had the chance to reflect about this yet: Madiba’s Legacy.

Secularism and the Barometer for Democracy

Facebook | May 25, 2013

This statement by Ed Hussein makes absolutely no sense:

“If the barometer for democracy is France or Britain, then Muslim countries are not on that trajectory. Why should they be? Theirs is a different culture rooted in scripture, unlike that of secular Europe. The freedom to blaspheme or “insult the prophets and God” is not acceptable to most Muslims or even Christians living in Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt, or Lebanon. This tension between Western and other approaches to democracy will remain a cause for ongoing struggle.” Continue reading

Why nonviolence failed in Syria

NOW Lebanon | A longer version is available here.

Many people in Syria and across the world continue to wonder why the Syrian uprising took such a violent turn, despite the bravery and selflessness of so many of the early protest leaders. Indeed, the development seems to have come as a result of a sophisticated strategy implemented by the Assad regime from the outset. Understanding this strategy, rather than lamenting the situation, as so many nonviolence advocates and theoreticians continue to do, might help prevent its replication elsewhere.    Continue reading

New On The Freedom Collection: Ammar Abdulhamid Updates

February 25, 2013 | Bush Center

Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid’s Freedom Collection interview provides a compelling look inside his troubled homeland.  We were very fortunate to interview him for a second time and learn about more recent developments in his country.  We are now pleased to post a recently recorded second set of interviews with Ammar, to hear his perspectives on Syria’s bloody civil war, steps that must be taken to end the violence, and building a sustainable democracy.  Continue reading

The Creation of An Unbridgeable Divide

openDemocracy | 24 January 2013

Syria’s civil war is now strongly characterised by militias identifying along sectarian lines. The growing divide between Sunnis and Alawites has profound implications for Syria, and the Middle East. Continue reading

As Regime Teeters, Jews Mull Outreach to Rebel Fighters

“There are many in the opposition who believe that Israeli concerns over change in Syria are, in part at least, behind the lack of a more proactive response by the international community to the situation in Syria,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian pro-democracy activist. Abdulhamid is a fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan Washington think tank that serves as an academic home for many neo-conservative thinkers. The group has emerged as one of the key players in forging ties with the budding Syrian opposition and urging a more active U.S. role in bringing about the demise of the Assad regime… “The agreed line by the opposition is that the status quo in the Golan Heights will be maintained until conditions permit for organizing peace talks,” said Abdulhamid, referring to Israel’s occupation of that area since the 1967 Six Day War. This approach could satisfy Jewish and pro-Israel groups whose focus on Syria’s future government in any event prioritizes other concerns.

Has the Arab Spring Lived Up to Expectations?

Contribution to “Has the Arab Spring Lived Up to Expectations?” published by the Woodrow Wilson Center.

For those who expected a fast and smooth transition to liberal democratic norms, the Arab Spring has certainly failed to deliver. But for those who simply wanted to push their countries into taking one important and necessary step in the right direction by breaking the prevailing political stalemate in their societies, then, the Arab Spring has definitely lived up to expectations. Continue reading

Sun setting on US chance to shape Syria’s transition

Quoted in the Democracy Digest:

The recent Internet blackout and the severing of landline and cell phones services are an indication of the regime’s vulnerability, rather than signs of an imminent crackdown, says Syrian opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid.

“The possibility of accidental damage can be discounted,” he said. “This is something done intentionally by the regime, and reflects growing desperation on account of the recent advances made by rebels, especially in Damascus.”