Jun 06 2014

Understanding Elections, Democracy, and Prospects for Peace in the Arab World

Much has been happening in the Middle East in recent days with the elections in Egypt of Army General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and in Syria of Bashar Al Assad. Both countries have been the sites of major democratic uprisings in recent years, part of the once-optimistic Arab Spring movements.

But in Egypt, a military general now claims power and legitimacy despite not being able to inspire a large election turnout and being responsible for overseeing repressive measures and handing out mass death sentences.

In Syria, a President who has dug his heels in despite being seriously implicated in violence against civilians, has claimed re-election with a high turnout. Assad now claims a majority of Syrians support him in spite of the on-going rebellion.

Meanwhile in Libya, three years after a US-NATO intervention that was supposed to have freed Libyans from dictatorial rule, there has been intense and deadly fighting, a storming of the Parliament, and two coup attempts.

Finally, in Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine a number of Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for six weeks to protest their imprisonment are facing near death. Israeli doctors are refusing to force-feed the prisoners saying it is tantamount to torture.

GUEST: Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. He is also a senior policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, an associate editor of Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

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