Ed Husain

The Arab Street

Husain examines politics, society, and radicalism in the greater Middle East.

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Showing posts for "Syria"

Can Russia Shift on Syria?

by Ed Husain
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference on the second day of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos (Andres Stapff/Courtesy Reuters). Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference on the second day of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos (Andres Stapff/Courtesy Reuters).

This week I took part in a New York Times debate on the Syria stalemate between Russia and the West. I argued that Russia can play a pivotal role in ending the conflict if the Syrian opposition and the West can reassure Putin that the benefits of Assad’s departure will outweigh any potential burdens for Russia. Read more »

The Week Ahead: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Annan on Syria, Afghan Foreign Minister in Qatar

by Ed Husain
Kofi Annan, joint special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League, gestures during a news conference in Russia on March 26, 2012 (Denis Sinyakov/Courtesy Reuters). Kofi Annan, joint special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League, gestures during a news conference in Russia on March 26, 2012 (Denis Sinyakov/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt. A delegation of representatives from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) will visit the United States this week. In media appearances and meetings with civil society organizations, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, Hussain el-Kazaz, Khaled Qazzaz, and Sondos Asem will explain the FJP’s vision for Egypt and this weekend’s announcement that leading Muslim Brotherhood member Khairat al-Shater will run for president. A spokesperson for the delegation has said they do not plan to meet with U.S. government officials on this trip. Read more »

The Week Ahead: Iraq Summit, Friends of Syria, Egypt’s Constitution

by Ed Husain
Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari talks to a group of local and Western journalists during a tour of the Republican Palace in Baghdad ahead of this week's Arab League summit (Mohammed Ameen/Courtesy Reuters).. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari talks to a group of local and Western journalists during a tour of the Republican Palace in Baghdad ahead of this week's Arab League summit (Mohammed Ameen/Courtesy Reuters).

Events of note this week in the Middle East:

Iraq. Baghdad will host the Arab League summit, the first major diplomatic event to be held in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew. Security challenges surrounding the summit are real, with attacks just last week in four Iraqi cities killing twenty-seven and injuring 161, but extensive preparations have been made—from cement barriers and checkpoints to the redeployment of thousands of guards—to ensure the events proceed without incident. Central to the summit’s agenda will be the crisis in Syria. Palestine, Somalia, and Yemen will likely also be discussed. Syria, suspended from the Arab League, will not be present at the talks. Read more »

Closing the Syria Debate at the Economist

by Ed Husain
Demonstrators take part in a protest against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Binsh near Idlib (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). Demonstrators take part in a protest against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Binsh near Idlib (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

Since last week, I have been participating in an Economist debate on military intervention in Syria. In today’s closing remarks, I argue that several tests need to be met before considering any Western military intervention: Read more »

Debating Syria

by Ed Husain
A member of the Druze community holds up a Syrian flag with a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a rally in the Druze village of Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights (Baz Ratner/Courtesy Reuters). A member of the Druze community holds up a Syrian flag with a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a rally in the Druze village of Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights (Baz Ratner/Courtesy Reuters).

Today marks the beginning of a ten-day period of debating and polling at the Economist.com. The motion is:

Military intervention in Syria would do more harm than good.

I am defending the motion, and Brookings’ Shadi Hamid is thoughtfully opposing the motion. Feel free to participate and vote. The crux of my argument, excerpted from my opening statement, is as follows: Read more »

What Does Intervention in Syria Look Like?

by Ed Husain
Demonstrators protest against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Binsh near Idlib (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). Demonstrators protest against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Binsh near Idlib (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

Today on CNN.com, I write about the myth of “international intervention” in Syria. Military options in Syria would require a huge dependence on U.S. armed forces. I also ask questions that are yet to be answered by proponents of forceful involvement in a country that borders global hotspots in Israel, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon. The piece appears below: Read more »

We Intervene in Syria at Our Peril

by Ed Husain
A boy attends a rally in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on January 25, 2012 (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters). A boy attends a rally in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on January 25, 2012 (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters).

I write for the Atlantic today arguing that any Western military involvement in Syria at this juncture will make matters worse for the country and result in regional conflict. Moreover, U.S.-led involvement in Syria would be counterproductive for the United States. Read more »

Guest Post: One Story, Two Narratives of Damascus Violence

by Ed Husain
Men pray at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus next to the coffins of people killed at security sites on Friday, December 23, 2011 in two car bomb attacks (Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters). Men pray at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus next to the coffins of people killed at security sites on Friday, December 23, 2011 in two car bomb attacks (Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters).

The following is written by Jasmine Roman, my friend and a Syrian residing in Damascus. She can be reached on Twitter at @jasmineroman01 and by email at myjasminewriting@gmail.com.

The unprecedented explosions that have hit Damascus over the past several weeks have ushered in a new and frightening stage in the turmoil that has engulfed Syria for nearly a year. As with many developments during the uprising, the average Syrian is being asked to consider two parallel narratives that have emerged in the aftermath of the bombings. The official narrative, predictably, seeks to prop up pro-regime actors. An alternative analysis of events questions the nature of and motives behind these events, which have shaken Damascus residents and further divided Syrians along sectarian and pro- or anti-regime lines. Read more »

Syria, Sanctions, and “Evils of the Transition”

by Ed Husain
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Syrian state television in Damascus on August 21, 2011 (SANA/Courtesy Reuters).)

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Syrian state television in Damascus on August 21, 2011 (SANA/Courtesy Reuters).

I can never forget that callous, cold, and counter-productive answer from former secretary of state Madeleine Albright when she was asked about the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children as a result of sanctions: “We think the price is worth it.

The sanctions were designed to weaken Saddam Hussein’s regime—they did not. Instead, we had Secretary Albright in a CBS interview undermining every fiber of the moral authority of the United States. That mistake cannot be repeated again.

Sanctions against the population of Gaza, collective punishment for voting for the political wing of a terrorist movement, have not led to mass street protests against Hamas or weakening of its control over Gaza. The Arab uprisings were an ideal moment for Gazans to rise up against Islamist rule by Hamas and call for Western support—they did not. Hamas has delayed holding elections in Gaza. There is yet to be mass outcry.

In Syria, in the large cities of Damascus, Aleppo, and elsewhere, the country’s president remains popular. Sanctions, however productive, will not dislodge this popularity. A population accustomed to blaming outsiders will fault Israel, the United States, and the European Union for punishing them. In time, anti-American sentiment will rise further as the regime demands “sacrifices for the motherland” from its people. Any opposition to such rallying cries will be labeled as khiyanah, or betrayal. Democracy activists will be cast as jasoos, or spies. These two Arabic words are not only deeply derogatory, but are exceptionally effective in creating outcasts of the most noble of citizens. Read more »

Arab Leaders Remain Irresponsible

by Ed Husain

Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf shakes hands with Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi during a visit to the tomb of Egypt's former president Anwar al-Sadat in Cairo on October 6, 2011 (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters).

For two weekends in a row, Arab leaders have shamelessly blamed “outsiders” and “conspiracies” rather than accept the consequences of their failures.

After the military killing of at least twenty-six innocent Coptic Christian protestors in Cairo on October 9, Egypt’s prime minister spoke of an outside conspiracy. To what was he referring?

At the Arab League meeting this weekend, Arab foreign ministers sat and listened to Syria’s representative deny unrest in his country and hold “outsiders” and “conspiracies” responsible for exaggerating a situation that “is increasingly under control.” It is as though three thousand of his fellow citizens had not been killed for demanding freedom and justice.

Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a handsome recipient of U.S. military aid for decades, has in recent weeks indirectly accused Egyptian democracy and human rights activists who accept Western funding of being agents of an outside conspiracy to destabilize Egypt. Such was the claim, too, of the Mubarak regime in its dying days. Read more »