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Entries in Sean Foley (7)


Malaysia Feature: Why a Mini-Crisis with the "Sultanate of Sulu" Matters for the Nation and the World (Foley)

"Sultan of Sulu" Jamalul Kiram IIIFor centuries, the Malaysian state of Sabah, located on the island of Borneo, has been known as “the land below the wind” --- a reference to its fortuitous position just south of the typhoon-prone region around the nearby Philippines.

But the geography that has shielded Sabah from Pacific storms for generations could not protect it on 11 February from more than 200 armed Muslim Filipinos --- the "Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu", a Muslim monarchy which once governed Sabah and other adjoining territories from a base in the Philippines. The army publicly asserted its right to settle in Sabah, with the Sultan of Sulu ruling the province.

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Middle East Opinion: What "Lincoln" Shows Us About Personal Politics in the Gulf States

Sean Foley writes for EA:

Tonight, we will find out if "Lincoln" wins Best Picture in the Academy Awards Ceremony in California. Set in early 1865 during the closing months of the US Civil War, the movie features Daniel Day Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln, trying to win Congressional approval for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution --- a measure that would outlaw slavery in America.

With Barack Obama as the first African American President and hailing from Lincoln’s home state of Illinois, many commentators have made comparisons between the two men and their political eras in America.

But Lincoln offers insights for politics beyond American shores and the 1860s --- for example, in today's six Gulf State monarchies.

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Syria Opinion: "A Population Can Now Dismantle A Modern State on Its Own"  (Foley)

Ordinary Syrians have shown for the first time that a national population, essentially on its own, can dismantle a modern and established state in a number of months --- even if the leaders are determined to maintain power by force.

In the long run, this achievement may be one of the most significant legacies of the Arab Spring for two reasons. First, it calls into question the norms that have governed the international system since the seventeenth century, namely the assumption that military power, political legitimacy, and the absence of external foes are enough for governments to maintain authority. Governments must now take seriously the possibility that any population can dismantle a modern state on their own. Second, the events in Syria suggest that other national populations may be able to topple more powerful states in the future. That should give pause to national leaders across the globe.

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Syria Opinion: Turkey's Leaders Face The Conundrum of History (Foley)

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Syrian President AssadThroughout Damascus, there are small blue plaques with yellow Arabic writing, providing a brief history of an important building, event, or person who once lived nearby. The plaques are not only in the historic medina adima --- The Old City --- but also in newer neighborhoods, such as Sha’alan. Some commemorate the martyrs who died resisting the Ottoman presence in the city during World War I --- they are a reminder of Syria’s troubled ties with its northern neighbour Turkey and the factors which are shaping the response of Ankara, and the "West", to recent events in and beyond Damascus.

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Southeast Asia Feature: Maher Zain, Technology, and Modern Islam (Foley)

Maher Zain, with Fadly 'Padi', sings Insha Allah live on Indonesian television

Zain's songs clearly reflect a wide-spread feeling of discontent and a desire for a different future among Islamic and secular activists in the Arab world. His awareness of that discontent and of the need for hope is an element of his popularity—epitomized by an Egyptian fan who stated at his Cairo concert in March 2010 that she loved the "revolutionary" feel of his music, which was neither materialistic nor in line with classical religious sermons.

Zain tapped into this same feeling of discontent and the need for hope in the first song he released after the start of the Arab Spring, "Freedom." He premiered the song, which is entirely in English, in Malaysia in February 2011. The song thanks God for giving friends and neighbors the strength to hold hands and demand an end to oppression. It presents a vision for a new Arab Muslim society in which people will no longer be prisoners in their homes or afraid to voice their opinions in public. While Zain acknowledges that the dream of a new Arab society has yet to be fulfilled, he promises his listeners that they are on the verge of achieving it, that God is with them, and that he will not let them fail. In the background as Zain sings, there are images of Arab flags and protestors of all ages peacefully challenging their governments in the Arab World.

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Bin Laden Feature: Why The Significance of His Death May Be in East Asia

Osama Bin Laden’s death marks a turning point in America’s relationship with the global community.  For a decade, he and his organization, al-Qaeda, have had an unrivaled place in the collective imagination of Americans and in Washington's global outlook.

But the long-term significance of his death may not be in the Middle East or South Asia. Instead, it will be in East Asia and the Pacific Rim, reflecting a critical change in American foreign policy. 

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Middle East Snapshot: Will the Gulf's Monarchs Keep Their Thrones? (Foley)

By 2011, the six monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council states, central to the international economy with massive oil and gas deposits and lucrative consumer markets, had rebounded from the global financial crisis, thanks in part to strong oil prices. The threat from extremist Islamic and terrorist organizations had largely ebbed while longstanding security ties with Washington appeared to shield the states against Iran and other external threats.  Many Gulf governments had adopted a strong presence online, and both Dubai and Qatar were global leaders in delivering e-government to their citizens. 

However, only weeks after the start of Tunisia’s revolution, monarchs from Kuwait to Oman face the most serious challenge to their authority in half a century.

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