DARING OPINION

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The Website of Elie Elhadj
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The Mirage of Arab Democracy
Updated: April 2010
 
Arab democracy is fantasy. Democratic ideology cannot defeat Islamic theology. Notwithstanding that Arab rule is tribal, corrupt, and mired in favoritism and nepotism it is significant that Arab rulers typically stay in office until death, be it natural or resulting from a military coup.  No Arab king or president, however, spares an opportunity, to display the loyalty of his subjects. While the presidents conduct stage-managed referendums in which they consistently manage to achieve near 100% approvals, the monarchs draw mile-long queues of happy-looking men on every national and religious occasion to demonstrate their people’s allegiance. To read more...


The 1916 Revolt of Sharif Hussein bin Ali Against the Ottoman Empire
October 2009
 
As Turkish Syrian relations improve it is worthy to recall how Sharif Hussein's revolt in 1916 against the Ottoman Empire separated Greater Syria and Iraq from Turkey after four centuries of Ottoman rule. On June 10, 1916, in the midst of World War I (1914-1918), Sharif Hussein bin Ali fired the first symbolic shot from his palace towards the Jeroul Turkish military base in Mecca; thus launching the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Government of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). To read more...

 
To Prolong their Dictatorships, Arab Rulers Resort to the Islamic Creed
Updated: February 2010
                                
The controversy over the compatibility between Islam and democracy intensified since the Bush administration adopted Arab democracy as a weapon against terrorism. While empirical studies since 2000 confirm the common belief that Muslim states have fewer political rights than non-Muslim states, the question as to why such a condition exists remains unsatisfactorily answered. This article will seek a plausible explanation in Arab countries. It will argue that Islam and Arab politics are inseparable, that Islamic reform is farfetched, and that Arab democracy is a mirage. The article will focus on the role of Islam in creating a culture of obedience to hierarchical authority; on how Arab kings and presidents resort to Islam to indoctrinate their subjects into believing that blind obedience to absolute rule is a form of piety; and, on why the Arab masses embrace such preaching. Islam, together with the security forces and the poverty of the masses allow Arab rulers to hand power from father to son. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria will exemplify. To read more...

 
Dubai and its White Elephants
March 2010
 
On November 25, 2009, Dubai World, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Emirate of Dubai announced that it would request a 6-month standstill on all debt servicing starting December 2009. The announcement effectively gave notice that the company’s debt would be rescheduled. The announcement came on the eve of Eid Al-Adha holiday during which Dubai banks were closed from November 26 to 29. For these four worrisome days, at least to Dubai’s panicked lenders and investors, the company maintained complete silence. To read more...
 
Abu Dhabi's Nuclear Power Plant Folly
June 2010

In December 2009, Abu Dhabi awarded South Korean companies a four-reactor BOT contract to generate 5,600 MW of electricity. In two contradictions, the emirate announced in February 2008 the plan to build Masdar City, a zero carbon, zero waste, and 100 percent renewable energy powered town; and in July 2009, it became the secretariat headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This article argues that Abu Dhabi's non-representative, non-participatory governance enables a poorly informed ruling elite enjoying rentier economic circumstances to reach such decisions. It concludes that the Masdar spirit and IRENA's principles require Abu Dhabi to abandon nuclear energy for safe solar and wind power. To read more...