peace process

Syria’s Christian Conundrum

by mgopin on June 8, 2012 · 6 comments

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by Hind Kabawat, CRDC Senior Research Analyst and Expert on Conflict Resolution

This article was originally published by CNN here.

One of the most perplexing aspects of the Syrian revolution is the deep ambivalence felt by so many of the country’s Christians when faced with the prospect of freedom after four decades of authoritarian dictatorship. Some Christians have enthusiastically embraced the prospect of democratic change and a more open civil society, but many have not.

As a Christian, this provokes a great deal of sadness in me and others who are committed to transforming Syria into an open, democratic, inclusive, secular and religiously tolerant society. But the problem is that many, if not most, Christians in Syria do not believe that this will be the outcome of changing the regime.

On the contrary, they believe the present regime — corrupt and repressive as it has been — is the …

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Ineffective tightening of sanctions on Iran

by mgopin on December 12, 2011 · 7 comments

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This article originally appeared on the Al Jazeeera English website on Dec. 12, 2011.  You can view it by clicking here .

Washington, DC – There is a long record of the grim effects of sanctions in international struggles against those states deemed as “rogue”. Sanctions are seen as righteous instruments, a non-violent way to pressure problematic regimes to change. But when you really don’t care about a country or its people, then your true attitudes emerge in the way in which you use the sanctions instrument of policy.

Let’s take Iraq. Based on estimates of the massive increase in child mortality rates through the years of the sanctions in the 1990s, anywhere from 300,000 to a million people lost their lives. But no one in Saddam’s inner circle, none of the wealthy, and none of the killers, died from those sanctions. Such sanctions were touted as an enlightened and …

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The Project for Islamic Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan, November 30, 2011 - December 2, 2011

George Mason University Press Release

November 29, 2011

Media Contacts: In U.S., James Greif, +1 703 993 9118, jgreif@gmu.edu. In Turkey, Aziz Abu Sarah +1 571-236-0380, azizabusarah@gmail.com .

Istanbul, Turkey –From every province of Afghanistan, Imams and civil society leaders will meet together today with Islamic scholars for the first time during the Islamic Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan conference, an unprecedented gathering that will open on November 30 in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 80 Afghan scholars will meet with over 20 of the world’s most prestigious Muftis and Islamic scholars, with millions of followers across the world, from Pakistan to Indonesia.

The conference participants consider this gathering, discussion and commitment for peace and non-violence as the establishment of a historically significant point of reference for Islamic teachings of moderation, tolerance, peace and cooperation.

The conference is an academic forum created by the Center for World Religions, …

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Get on the Right Side of History

by mgopin on September 24, 2011 · 0 comments

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(A version of this essay was recently published in The Jerusalem Report.)

Across the world in the last 40 years politically organized religious forces have played an increasingly important role in national politics. From India to Indonesia, from Lebanon to Israel, from the United States to Russia, organized religion has increased its impact on politics.

We are also aware of the frightening rise of very violent religion, expressed through terror groups. For this reason, it is easy to misunderstand the relationship between religion on the one hand and between states and ethnic groups and their very secular interests, on the other hand.

Precisely because so many millions of people care about religion, religion has become an essential tool of secular state and ethnic interests. Indeed, what may seem to be a religious issue often turns out to be very secular state interests. Missing this relationship, it becomes easy

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Much is being made of Palestinian unilateralism recently, and President Obama and his advisors seem authentically perturbed by the unilateral march to Palestinian statehood declarations at the United Nations come September. It will indeed put the United States in an awful position.

 

Is this Palestinian move such a bad thing, and it is a betrayal of that sacred cow of statecraft, verbal negotiations? I say no, it is rather Palestinian leaders finally intuiting what the true form of negotiations have been all along, the true positions being formulated by successive leaderships of Israel. That form of negotiation, the one that has marched forward year after year, is the creation of facts on the ground, actions not words.

 

I always knew that actions speak louder than words, but only of late have I come to realize that they are not only a form of negotiation but the form …

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By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).

Damascus, Syria

May 20, 2011

Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.

What the …

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The Arab Spring Awakens in Palestine

by mgopin on May 19, 2011 · 7 comments

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Here are two interviews that I did with Fox News and Russia TV on Tuesday, regarding thousands of Palestinian refugees who attempted to nonviolently cross Israeli borders from the Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian border last weekend, resulting in several deaths and dozens injured.

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Recent sputterings of a peace process between Israel and Palestine, the termination of Israel’s settlement building freeze causing a demise of said peace process — again — has produced a loud, global yawn. What else is new in this endless conflict? Negotiations cannot succeed without a vision, and there is no widely shared vision of peace among these people that could truly spur their politicians forward.

The hardest part of building peace for the future is freeing oneself from the wounds of the past that create brutal behavior in the present. One way forward may be to suspend skepticism for just a moment, to free the mind to build a world of practical possibilities should peace be achieved. Armed with this imaginative exercise it might become easier to lobby for practical ways forward.

Let’s imagine the following: official creation of a state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza

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From Fox Five News today.  See the film clip.

via Clinton Opens New Round of Mideast Peace Talks

WASHINGTON – Marc Gopin from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University joined us with more.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton formally opened the first direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in nearly two years on Thursday, imploring the parties to ignore the long history of failed negotiations and make needed compromises to forge an agreement.

At a ceremony in the State Department’s ornate Benjamin Franklin room, Clinton said the Obama administration was committed to forging a settlement in a year’s time. But, she stressed that the heavy lifting must be done by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We will be an active and sustained partner,” she said. “But we cannot and we will not impose a solution. Only you …

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this article points out a systemic-perspective suggesting the "proximity talks" as a tactical move through which Israeli, Palestinian and American leadership can work within one strategy to reduce the power of the radical elements in their society. While many question the content-value of the "Proximity talks," many neglect the power structure it creates as an opportunity to put pressure on the radical elements within these societies and open the gate to agreement between Israel and Palestine. The concern should be the drift of the moderate elements in these societies toward radical reaction that will block opportunity for change. The inner conflicts within Israel and Palestine are blocking the progress and need to be contained for the establishment of a Palestinian state in near future.

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