This and ... 'hourly changes'

Will the changes sweeping across the Middle East revolutionise the US' relationship with the region?
In 2009, Barack Obama, the US president, took the stage at Cairo University and spoke of a new beginning between Washington and the Arab world.

This leads many to question whether the state of political flux in the Middle East will encourage the US to adopt changes in its foreign policy.Yet, less than two years later, on February 18, 2011 the Obama administration used its first United Nations Security Council veto to strike down a resolution declaring Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal.

On Monday's Riz Khan we speak with world-renowned author and historian Tariq Ali. Also on the show is Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan.

This episode aired on Monday, February 28, 2011.

A new beginning - Riz Khan - Al Jazeera English


Only tragedies count

Ah, Niall Ferguson -- an article reminding us that some revolutions in history have turned out badly. Very good -- but the trend since the mid-1980s has arguably been the reverse. Why? The single anti-pluralist vanguard party has largely been discredited, and pluralism is in. I'm sure that the Philipines and Indonesia had lots of unemployed young men as well involved in their revolutions, but somehow avoided a reign of terror. The Weekly Standard of all places had a very eloquent description of why the 2011 revolutions will not necessarily take a tragic course, because it acknowledges one of the simplest history lessons of all: times change. Other than the obligatory call for American assertiveness and the pseudo-recommendation to airstrike Qaddafi's forces to show up Ahmadinejad, it's very much worth a read.
Libya faces some unique challenges, which in some ways are similar to those which faced Iraq after 2003 -- minus the foreign occupation, of course. But I think that it's one promising sign that the National Council involved with organizing governance in Benghazi are people with some experience in institution-running: an ex-minister, judges, battalion commanders, etc. The professional classes in other words were not tainted by their co-option into the ruling party, as happened in Iraq. They do not seem to be acting like a vanguard party.


The Crazy Prophet

"WHY DON’T the masses stream to the square here, too, and throw Bibi out?” my taxi driver exclaimed when we were passing Rabin Square. The wide expanse was almost empty, with only a few mothers and their children enjoying the mild winter sun.
The masses will not stream to the square, and Binyamin Netanyahu can be thrown out only through the ballot box.
If this does not happen, Israelis can blame nobody but themselves.
If the Israeli Left is unable to bring together a serious political force, which can put Israel on the road to peace and social justice, it has only itself to blame.
We have no bloodthirsty dictator whom we can hold responsible. No crazy tyrant will order his air force to bomb us if we demand his ouster.
Once there was a story making the rounds: Ariel Sharon – then still a general in the army – assembles the officer corps and tells them: “Comrades, tonight we shall carry out a military coup!” All the assembled officers break out in thunderous laughter.
* * *

If Qaddafi were not planning to slaughter his own people, it could have been grotesque or sad. But as it was, it was only monstrous.
While he was talking, the rebels were taking control of town

But now the Palestinian youth, too, has seen that it is possible to face live fire, that Qaddafi’s fighter planes did not put an end to the uprising, that Pearl Square in Bahrain did not empty when the king’s soldiers opened fire. This lesson will not be forgotten.
Perhaps this will not happen tomorrow or the day after. But it most certainly will happen – unless we make peace while we still can.
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.