Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mohamed Ibrahim Elmasry: Protests in Cairo

As the 5th day of protests against Egypt's president reached the late morning hours, I spoke with Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim Elmasry, a professor of computer engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Elmasry is currently living in Cairo in order to film the protests in which thousands of Egyptians are calling for the resignation of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. Dr. Elmasry is posting the videos on his facebook page out of solidarity with the protestors and in order to inform the world community of the minute-by-minute developments in Egypt. Our conversation ranges from the dynamic between the protesters, the police, and the military; Dr. Elmasry's own experiences in filming the crowds; and the future of Egypt.

Image: Haaretz

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Editorial: Popular Protests Grip the Middle East

Today saw the invigoration of protests in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a with an estimated 16,000 demonstrators posing a credible threat to the already fractured government. This comes after several continuous days of protest in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak's totalitarian regime, and over two months of protests in Tunisia, which effectively toppled the government last week. These developments have forced powers like the United States and Israel to take an observer's role, something that arguably neither country has experienced in any significant way since the fall of colonialism in the region over a half century ago. The popular protests have sparked serious political and social contemplation in other countries, including Iraq and Lebanon, where limited civil disobedience and pro-Hariri protests, respectively, seem to have some conceptual links to the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. This Friday poses a potentially critical stage in the ramifications and breadth of these developments; like any other Friday, thousands of muslims will gather in places of worship throughout the Middle East. Friday will pose the true test of whether these secular protests will be able to maintain their true character, or whether religious leaders will opportunistically capitalize on the high level of public mobilization and use it to their ends. CrossTalk will be hosting a number of guests over the next several days including a politician from the People's Movement in Lebanon as well as protestors in Cairo's Tahrir Square to interpret and comment on these events as they continue to unfold.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Osman Bukhach: Crisis in Lebanon

Osman Bukhach (previously interviewed on CrossTalk) is the Director of the Central Media Office for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international islamic movement dedicated to establishing a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, or "umma." Our discussion covers the current political crisis in Lebanon, the popular uprising in Tunisia, and the ongoing release of the Palestine Papers. Bukhach brings Hizb ut-Tahrir's narrative into these critical issues, a perspective which is rarely present in Western media.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Editorial: Al Jazeera Releases The Palestine Papers

Al Jazeera today released the first of what it has announced will be several bundles of previously unknown documents detailing the inner workings of the Palestinian - Israeli peace negotiations over the last ten years. Al Jazeera intends to release the Palestine Papers thematically, beginning today with the topic of Jerusalem and the Jewish settlements in the Eastern half of the city, which was captured and subsequently annexed by Israel in the 1967 War. The documents seem to portray a 2008 Palestinian delegation under Ahmed Qurei' that held a very weak line and conceded key points to Israel in terms of settlements, territory swaps, and the status of Jerusalem.

The Palestine Papers have already sparked outrage from some Palestinians against their government. These sentiments do not seem to be any different from those associated with the ongoing debate in Palestinian political society over the correct stance towards Israel: should the West Bank Palestinians stick to staunch resistance to Israeli occupation and run the risk of political stagnation, or should they cooperate with the Israeli government and run the risk of allowing their partisan opponents to brand them as collaborators. This question has driven much of the animosity between Hamas and Fateh. The Papers may enflame this poignant and volatile debate.

As Al Jazeera continues to release the Papers, CrossTalk will be featuring several guests in the coming days who will speak to the significance of this new information and its potential affect on the region - Check back often.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lauren Blaxter: The Bard Palestinian Cooperation

Lauren Blaxter is a student at Bard College in the Hudson Valley and is a coordinator for the Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative (BPYI), formerly the Bard Palestine Cooperation (BPC). The BPYI was founded in 2009 by Mujahed Sarsur who was born in the West Bank village of Mas-ha and is in the Bard College class of 2012. Lauren traveled for the first time to Mas-ha during the summer of 2010 as a participant in the Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative's outreach to young girls in the village and became a coordinator because of the profound impact the program had on her. This unique organization aims to foster a human connection between a diverse group of Bard students and the Palestinian residents of Mas-ha in order to form cultural understanding in a region where individuals are often reduced to the status of objects due to the tragic conflicts that continue to claim a grim toll of human lives. Our conversation ranges from Mujahed's original trip in 2009 when he made a groundbreaking visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum with a group of Palestinian youth to Lauren's experiences forming human relationships that have given depth to critical issues which transcend politics and borders.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ahmed Yousef: Hamas

Ahmed Yousef is the political advisor to Ismail Haniya, who has been Hamas Prime Minister since the tumultuous Palestinian elections of 2006. I spoke with Yousef by phone from Jerusalem on August 16th, 2010 on pertinent topics pertaining to Hamas' political and social intentions, as well as Hamas' stance on issues ranging from Gilad Shalit to its relations with the Palestinian Authority government seated in Ramallah. Yousef has written extensively, including editorials in the New York Times and Haaretz.

Image: The Washington Times