The financial crisis is possibly the most significant global event, and it doesn’t look like there will be a band-aid solution. According to the most optimistic estimates, this might be a 5 years recession. The Davos meeting produced nothing of note except for the Erdogan coup de theatre, which might improve his national ratings but probably not the Turkish economy.
Confidence and trust in the world of finance is at its lowest. “Confidence grows at the rate a coconut tree grows and falls at the rate a coconut falls”. This is how Montek Ahluwalia, an Indian policymaker, summed up the 2009 gathering of the World Economic Forum. As long as confidence is not restored, the crisis will continue to evolve. And as dumb as we might be, it is going to take a while before we forget the deeds of the Wall Street pirates.
As much as I love to see free market and capitalism fail, I cannot help fearing that the poor will end up paying the price. True, a few CEOs may get the axe, but they’ve made tons of money, and they have their stash and they will not fall into poverty. And while the workers of Europe are taking to the streets in what is a breath of hope in a possible change, it is far too early to declare the death of capitalism, or even of neo-liberalism; especially that the alternatives have not yet fully evolved, and are not tested and tried. Countries like
The dynamics global food issues closely follow that of the global finances. Although food prices have decreased from last year’s spike, they are expected to remain high and therefore an increase in the number of those who are food insecure is to be expected. Meanwhile, the patterns of consumption of the rich and of the would-be-rich in the
Regardless of the reasons underlying the food crisis, which include biofuels, droughts, low agricultural productivity in
The other approach is based on the premise that the problem is not technological, but political. According to its proponents, trade policies inherited from colonial times have destroyed the food security of communities in the developing world and disempowered small and medium farmers. Therefore, trade policies need to be corrected and countries and communities ought to regain sovereignty over their food. This will enable the rebuilding of local food systems and their sustainable evolution.
In all this, the Arab Countries are not players. They are net food importers and technologically retarded. The rich among them are looking towards buying colonies in Africa and
The Israeli elections represent probably the most critical regional event. The
The polls conducted during the
Regionally again, the Iranian nuclear empowerment will continue to occupy the minds of the rulers of the world. Obama appears to want to give it some time, maybe a year. He is too busy with the other dossiers at hand, including
Arab regimes are also absent from their own regional geo-politics.
However, one must keep in mind that any agenda that intersects with the Israeli agenda must be opposed by any means. This is not only because
The struggle against Zionism takes many forms. Arab states have dismally failed in their attempts to oppose the 5th largest army of the world with conventional military means.
However, these “victories” are coming at great costs, and reflect the state of despair, hopelessness and powerlessness in which the Arabs, especially the Palestinians and the Lebanese are. What else can you call the fact that we feel victorious because not all of us have been killed?
There are few newcomers to these demonstrations. There are few new supporters. The power of the existing supporters from civil society, in the Arab World and worldwide is still very limited and their numbers are very small: we are talking of thousands when we need millions, tens of millions. The few who are committed are dispersed, atomized, and often in disagreement over core issues. In the Arab world, they are severely repressed and have to be acceptable to the State in order to demonstrate, which paralyzes their discourse. This is why, in spite of the great efforts made by civil society movements in the Arab World and elsewhere, and in spite of the tremendous facilities offered by web-based communications, I disagree with Sate` Noureddeene’s statement in this recent op-ed in Al Safir, in which he predicts that armed struggle will soon be replaced by civil society struggle, as desirable as this might be. In the wake of Gaza and considering the current dynamics of Israeli politics and the endless subservience of Arab leadership, it looks like armed struggle by highly trained and well armed guerilla groups will continue to be the Resistance’s approach to confronting Zionist aggression. As my friend K put it: "not until the Mossad starts assassinating civil society activist will I start to believe in the superiority of vigils and banner-waving over Grad rockets and kornet anti-tank missiles."
However, the Resistance needs political and financial support from at least one international pole. It cannot exist and operate in a political vacuum, or without money. This, of course, brings us back to the financial crisis and to regional geopolitics.