Tag Archives: democracy

Al-Azhar and the Egyptian Revolution

al-azhar red

This article is available in Portuguese here. A PDF version of the English article can be downloaded here.

“Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people. There is a need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

General El-Sisi’s speech, Armed Forces’ Department of Moral Affairs – January 2014

 

How has al-Azhar, often referred to as the highest reference in Sunni Islam, navigated the recent Egyptian upheavals?

The institution, both a Mosque and a University, could have cloistered itself away from the course of History, waiting for the dust to settle. Instead, it found itself at the very center of events, both as an actor taking sides and position, and as the object of opposing national and constitutional projects for Egypt[1].

Such a central and active role in a highly volatile environment, where today’s victors are tomorrow’s fools, has not been without contradictions and conflicts within and around the institution. This may ultimately come at a high price for the already weakened authority and legitimacy of al-Azhar in Egypt and beyond.

The following article intends to shed some light on al-Azhar’s role in contemporary Egypt (I), rectifying certain misconceptions about its status in Islam, before analyzing its positioning during the Nile Revolution (II) and since the restoration of the military rule (III). Continue reading

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The Syrian Armed Opposition – Balance of Power, Tactical Goals and Long Term Agenda

ISIS with child

ISIS Fighters

NGC is very pleased to announce that Romain Caillet, a French researcher specialized in Islamist movements, has joined our team. Romain brings along his precious expertise on Salafist and Jihadist movements, the Syrian civil war and more generally on the Sunni/Shia relation in the Arab world. Find out more about him on our website.

NGC sat with Romain to discuss the status of the armed opposition to the Syrian regime, and try to identify:

(1)     The current balance of power between the different groups,

(2)     Their tactical and long-term goals as well as potential future scenarios

Continue reading

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New Publication on the Syrian Conflict

Pas de printemps JPEGWe are very proud to anounce the publication by La Decouverte Editions  in French of “Pas de printemps pour la Syrie – Les clés  pour comprendre les acteurs et les défis de la crise, 2011-2013” (“Won’t there be a Syrian Spring? Keys to understand the players and the challenges of the crisis (2011-2013)”) under the supervision of the French Institute of the Near East (IFPO).

This collective work brings together the contributions of more than 20 experts among the best connoisseurs of the Middle East and Syria. NGC Director, Janaina Herrera contributed by bringing a unique expertise on the Syro-Lebanese diaspora in Latin America and its positioning vis a vis the Syrian crisis. For a detailed table of contents and list of authors (in French), click here.

Focusing on information collected as close to the source as possible, this important book highlights the historical roots of the crisis, analyzes the issues at stake and scrutinizes its political, economic and ideological implications.

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NGC Special Report – Making Sense of Brazilian Protests

Dancing Shadows on the Brazilian Congress

Dancing Shadows on the Brazilian Congress

NGC is proud to share with you its latest Special Report on the protests in Brazil.

We happened to be in Sao Paulo in June 2013 for a month-long research mission, when the protests against the bus fare hike broke out.

We decided to try to make sense of this historical upheaval, mobilizing our two-year experience in the field of Public Healthcare in a favela of Rio and interviewing Brazilians from the Public, Private and Third-sector Organizations in Sao Paulo, Rio and Brasilia.

This report is but a small contribution to a larger discussion that is just beginning, let us know your thoughts and share with us your analysis!

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Muslim Brothers in Power: a Cultural Clash

Egypt-Muslim-Brotherhood

Are Muslim Brothers in Egypt failing because they are Islamists? Are Islamists incompatible with democracy?  Is it the very essence of Islam that explains the Brothers’ inability to design a sound economic policy?

History and sociology are of critical importance when it comes to better understanding the difficult political transition in Egypt. Religion is only one part of the story, and maybe not the main one. Continue reading

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Syria – Update from the Front

Hafez falling

Hafez falling in Raqaa

In the North and the East

Roughly speaking, the North is starting to get closer to a liberated zone and signs of a new Syria are emerging, especially in Aleppo. Most of the border with Turkey is controlled by the rebels (mainly al Farouk brigade) who have recently focused on more strategic targets (bigger cities, airports, military bases…). But that does not mean that these are stable and safe areas. Continue reading

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Encounter in Abu Dhabi with a Leading Figure of Chilean Political Life

Sergio Bitar

In the margins of the Arla Forum in Abu Dhabi, NGC Director had the chance to meet and exchange with Sergio Bitar, a prominent figure of Chilean political life.

We wanted to share with our readers the biography of a statesman who has been promoting Democracy and Development in Chile for the past 30 years, and is showing great interest in the political changes of  the Arab world. Continue reading

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The 2010 Nuclear Swap Deal (Brazil, Turkey & Iran) – 5 Lessons, 4 Recommendations

Swap Deal Triumph

NGC is happy to share with you the speech it delivered during the USEK International Symposium on the Relations between the Middle East and South America.

Enjoy the reading and share your thoughts with us!

NGC Team

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Colleagues,

Dear Friends,

Allow me to start by welcoming all of those who came a long way to join us and by congratulating the organizers for this important event, the University of Saint Esprit of Kaslik (USEK) and the RIMAAL.

This is truly a fantastic opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on the potential of a new relation between the Middle East and South America. We are, I believe, the pioneers of an emerging strategic alliance that will bring about many benefits for the peoples of both regions and beyond.

Let me focus today on the potentialities of a Latin American political mediation in the post-Arab spring Middle East. It is mainly a prospective exercise that will:
– Draw five lessons from the nuclear swap deal between Iran, on the one hand, and Brazil and Turkey on the other hand,
– Formulate four recommendations for future initiatives.

I. Five Lessons Learned from the Nuclear Swap Deal

Let us start by analyzing a real historical precedent: the nuclear swap deal between Brazil, Turkey and Iran. In the spring of 2010, Brazil and Turkey carried out a diplomatic initiative to broker the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) fuel swap with Iran, taking in a former US proposal of October 2009. Under the deal, Iran was to ship 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, in return for fuel for its research reactor.

This initiative was hailed by some observers as a powerful indicator of the empowerment and “autonomization” of emerging diplomacies from traditional decision centers and western powers.

Continue reading

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3rd Arab-Latino Summit in Lima – Out of the comfort zone

Since then, things have changed

In 2005, Brazilian President Lula initiated the first Summit of South America and Arab countries (ASPA) in Brasilia in an attempt to create a strategic South-South alliance for international development, justice and peace. This was followed by the Doha ASPA Summit in 2009. We are today on the eve of the 3rd session in Lima, Peru on October 1-2. 21 members from the Arab League and 11 from the Union of South American Nations, the Unasur (Syria and Paraguay are suspended from their organizations) will attend. Continue reading

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