Middle East

The upcoming flotilla to break the Gaza siege is gathering steam from a flood of innovative Boycott, Divest and Sanctions activities around the world, says Eric Walberg

From 7-20 March, more than 75 university groups on six continents held their seventh annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). According to Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, “Our South Africa moment has finally arrived.” “ Israel’s version of apartheid is more sophisticated than South Africa’s was. It’s an evolved form,” explains Barghouti in his hot-off-the-press BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. “In South Africa, the overall plan was to exploit blacks, not throw them out.”

The revolution and the turmoil in the Arab world have their origins in the tortuous history of British and American domination of the Middle East. Eric Walberg looks at the implications for Egypt of its colonial past

Turkey’s decision to take the lead in the NATO mission against Libya is a bold example of its determination to play the leading role in the region – and within NATO itself, says Eric Walberg

Turkey continues its struggle to rein in the trigger-happy Franco-Anglo-American coalition intent on invading Libya. From the start, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the idea of a no-fly-zone as “such nonsense. What does NATO have to do with Libya?” But his NATO colleagues pushed ahead and achieved UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on 17 March, authorising “all necessary measures” against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the establishment of a no-fly zone.

Recent initiatives by its government attest to Turkey’s determination to bring a new realism to world politics, and events in the Arab world provide an opportunity to reshape regional relations, notes Eric Walberg in Istanbul

As Turkey gears up to parliamentary elections in June, recent pronouncements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed the importance that the Turkish leadership places in defining a more dynamic role for Turkey in the Middle East as a bridge between East and West.

Comparisons between Egypt’s revolution and others during the past abound and are instructive. They suggest two scenarios for the post-revolutionary period, says Eric Walberg

Egypt’s revolution is considered to be a startling new development, the result of the Internet age. But it is actually more like the traditional revolutionary scenario predicted by Karl Marx in the mid-19th century, a desperate protest against mass poverty resulting from rampant capitalism. Its association with the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe and Russia in the 1990s, as epitomised by the adoption of the Serbian Otpor’s clenched fist masthead, is thus superficial. A more apt comparison in economic terms is with the Philippines, also a poor country with a large peasant population.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html