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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Some non-Egypt highlights.

 I know that I’ve complained on more than one occasion that Egypt seems to suck up the available news oxygen, but I myself am part of that – so much of what I’ve been writing about has been Egypt-oriented.
Today I want to step back and draw your attention to some of the events that inspired me to start writing this blog*, particularly Sudan and Lebanon.


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Sudan - The Sudanese civil war has taken the lives of more than two million people over the past 20 years. Communicating a number that big is almost impossible. Human beings don’t really understand large numbers. Two million people – that’s almost the entire population of Dallas.

That war is finally over. As of yesterday, Omar al-Bashir, the dictator of Sudan has put his stamp of approval on the separation of north and south Sudan. As inspiring as the events of Tunisia and Egypt are, the ramifications of this are overwhelming to me. As excited as I was to hear that the initial vote had been successful (only a month has passed since then – it seems like so long ago) that moment is approaching its completion. Secession will take place on July 9, finally undoing a cruel twist of colonial cartography.

Our thoughts and prayers should be with both north and south Sudan as the first new country of the 21st century steps out on its own.

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Lebanon– Chaos may be returning to Beirut soon. The tribunal on the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri held its first hearing yesterday and will be publishing indictments in a matter of a week or two. This puts them way ahead of schedule, and means that several Hezbollah leaders may be named before they can resolve the current political confusion. Hezbollah was hoping that these revelations wouldn’t come to light for several more months (or never). Their power play may be less successful than initially thought, with rather violent results. I’ll try to keep you posted on that, but Lebanese politics is a rather convoluted and byzantine tangle that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

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My other main update concerns Libya – someday I’ll do a nice full piece on Libya, an unappreciated jewel of the Mediterranean that has been repeatedly robbed of its potential. Ghaddafi has always been a fascinating individual to me - to steal a description from HST he’s, “A high powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.” He’s written a fantastic book of short stories that I HIGHLY recommend. If he hadn’t gotten so hung up on Nasserism and being a dictator he could have been a great political philosopher. His “green book”, though kind of a mess, is a masterpiece of revolutionary fervor – he’s willing to pull apart and reassemble very big ideas like capitalism, socialism and political Islam to see what might work.  Regardless, he is still a ruthless dictator and an obstacle to the freedom of four million people.


Rather than a complete piece (I’m on my way to work and short on time), I’ll just draw your attention to a letter written to Ghaddafi by a young Libyan man. There is no blog that I can write that would capture the frustration of the Libyans on the street as well as this.

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Bahrain – I haven’t mentioned Bahrain yet in any of my posts, but it deserves attention. I put Bahrain in the same category as Tunisia. The sort of country everyone forgets about until something unprecedented happens there. I’ll talk more about it later, but Bahrain is a wild card right now. Suffice it to say, if the political upheaval of North Africa is going to spread to the oil-rich Gulf States it’ll start in Bahrain.

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Egypt – I know this wasn’t supposed to be about Egypt, but I did want to point out one rather major event: The state controlled media has begun to turn against Mubarak.

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This Blog - Last night this blog reached the 1000 visitor mark, an exciting benchmark for me. I’m averaging about 100 a day, and I’m hoping to keep that up, so tell your friends to tune in and I’ll do my best to keep regular updates and analysis coming. These are the top ten reader locations: 

United States
Israel
United Kingdom
Canada
Germany
Egypt
Singapore
Netherlands
India
Australia

I’ve also gotten readers from Mexico, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Malaysia, India, Libya, and the Sudan. Thanks for reading!

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