• Upcoming Events

    Monday 11/8
    Peter Beinart
    "Israel: Have we lost that loving feeling, and can we get it back?"
    5-7pm
    Davis Auditorium
    Sturm Hall

    Monday 11/8
    The Muslim Student Association is hosting an Eid Mubarak dinner from 6-8 pm at the Korbel Cyber Cafe.

    Wednesday 11/10
    A Faculty Panel will discuss different issues surrounding the Occupy Wallstreet movement.
    Noon in the Cyber Cafe

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    klkingma@ole.augie.edu

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A day of hope

All three of the biggest stories carry a common theme, which is making progress towards peaceful resolutions to problems.  First up is Israel-Palestine, covered by the New York Times, where the two sides are working towards a ceasefire after several days of shoddy Hamas rocket attacks and not-quite-precise but effective countermeasures by the Israelis.  Still,

Israeli analysts warned that a return to the tense calm that has largely prevailed in the last two years would not compensate for the lack of a more coherent Israeli strategy vis-à-vis Gaza, nor prevent another escalation with the potential of leading to an all-out conflagration.

Next, Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh appears receptive to GCC mediation for the resolution of his countries political crisis.  Al Jazeera is reporting that the  statement says

Saleh should hand his authorities over to his vice president and that all parties should “stop all forms of revenge .. and [legal] pursuance, through guarantees offered” – wording that appeared to offer Saleh assurances of no prosecution for him or his family once he leaves office.

The statement from Saleh’s office on Monday said: “In compliance with statements made several times … the president has no reservation against transferring power peacefully and smoothly within the framework of the constitution.”

The article suggests that opposition leaders will meet with GCC officials today to discuss the terms of the proposed solution.

Meanwhile, rebel leaders in Libya today are considering an African Union proposal for a ceasefire.  This BBC News article contains the details.  The goal of the ceasefire is to allow humanitarian aid to pour into the state unfettered while creating a dialog between the government and the rebels on a political solution.  The rebels central concern is that Gaddafi will use a pause in violence to position is forces to launch a surprise attack and effectively route the rebels.  The rebels have also said that they will not accept an bargain that does not have Gaddafi stepping down as one of its terms.  For his part, Gaddafi has already agreed to the terms of the AU proposal.

 

 

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America’s Response to Egypt

“Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” – Hillary Clinton

Just weeks after demanding reform from the leaders of the Arab World, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s guarded comment illustrates that a grassroots movement for regime change in Egypt may further complicate US foreign policy in the Middle East.

It goes without question that Egypt’s stability is vital to current US interests in the region–particularly as a key player in the United State’s unshakable commitment to the security of Israel, and as an ally in the ongoing global war on terror.  Since the George W. Bush administration, there has been a shift in US foreign policy focus toward the promotion of democracy throughout the Middle East.  That administration’s interventionist efforts in Iraq, coupled with simultaneous support for authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the region, have undoubtedly tainted any future US mission to directly influence such a transformation.  President Barack Obama has continued the previous administration’s stance on supporting democracy in the Middle East, but his administration been careful in its diplomatic reaction to current events.

Now, we are witnessing a revolution in Tunisia that has reverberated throughout the Middle East in both conversation and action.  The peoples of Egypt and–as of today–Yemen are protesting against their governments.  How the United States responds is indicative of a precarious US balance of interests.  Should the ideal dramatic change take place in Egypt and Mubarak’s regime crumble, what then becomes of Egypt as a long-standing ally in the aforementioned US interests?  Will the balance of power shift in the region?  Will the new leadership remain a partner to the United States?  There are many tough questions US foreign policymakers will face in the wake of these events.

In Cairo, President Obama stated his belief in the willingness of peoples of the Arab and Muslim world to embrace democracy and human rights.  In his 2010 National Security Strategy, Mr. Obama reiterated the US commitment to spread the values of democracy and freedom abroad: “That is why we must always seek to improve these values not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.”

It is obvious that such values are being upheld by the legitimate movements of the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen.  Perhaps the United States will choose promotion of democracy at the expense of regime stability in the region–no doubt a hard choice–but one being made across the Arab world.