|Red Flashes From Syria|
|SIX months after the Syrian
uprising began it seems clear
that peaceful protests aimed at
overthrowing the regime and
ousting President Bashar al-
Assad have failed. With no prospect of
meaningful national dialogue in sight,
the conflict now appears to be shifting
into a new, infinitely more hazardous
phase: the weaponisation of the revolution.
Syria is moving inexorably from
Arab spring to an ever darker, dangerous
winter of discontent.
The inability of unarmed civilian
demonstrators to bring down Assad, or
at least bring him to the negotiating
table, has several causes. One is the
lack of a unified, well-led opposition
with clear objectives...
|THE LOST DECADE &
FUTURE OF AMERICA|
|IF you want a big swig of
despair, listen to the people
who know something about
the global economy. Roger
Altman, a former deputy
Treasury secretary, is arguing that
America and Europe are on the
verge of a disastrous double-dip
recession. Various economists say
it will be at least another three
years before we see serious job
growth. Others say European
banks are teetering - if not now,
then early next year.
Walter Russell Mead, who teaches
foreign policy at Bard College,
recently laid out some worst-case
scenarios on his blog: "It is about
whether the international financial
system will survive the next six
months in the form we now... |
Saudi men to vote in local polls today
JEDDAH SAUDI men are to vote on Thursday in municipal elections, the last all-male affair in the Muslim kingdom after a royal decree this week giving women the right to cast ballots in four years.
Some 5,324 candidates will compete for 816 seats in the elections — only the second in Saudi Arabia’s history — to fill half the seats in the country’s 285 councils. The other half are appointed by the government.
The first elections in the Gulf kingdom, which has a population of around 27.5 million, including around 19 million Saudis, were held in 2005, but the government extended the existing council’s term for two years.
Around 1.2 million male voters have registered to take part.
The election is just four days after the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud absolute monarch Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in the next municipal elections in four years, a historic first for the ultra-conservative country.
Women’s rights activists had long fought for the right to vote in the kingdom, which applies a strict version of Sunni Islam and bars women from driving or travelling without the consent of a male guardian.
And despite their frustration at having to wait until 2015 to exercise that right, female activists were rejoiced by the decision by the 86- year-old king, who was spared Arab spring protests that toppled autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
“We are heading towards a new era that will see women obtain their rights,” said Maha Futaihi, spouse of the kingdom’s Labour Minister Adel Faqih, who is also a community activist.
Candidate Othman al- Othman also welcomed the king’s decision.
“It is an honour for us to compete with our sisters and I think they are more serious and interactive than men,” he said.
In addition to participating in the only public polls in the country, King Abdullah announced Sunday that he has decided to admit women to the Shura Council, an all-appointed, consultative body.