A makeshift memorial for Robin Williams seen in front of Carolines on Broadway Comedy Club on August 12, 2014 in New York City.

Robin Williams And Social Media

First up: Robin Williams was a fine actor by all means. His death is an unfortunate and tragic incident.

As soon as word got out about Williams’ death, the internet mourned the loss of a very talented actor. Rightfully so. Social media, online publications, blogs and everything else was filled with “RIP Robin” messages, and people talked at length about the life and story of Robin Williams.

However, while social media did praise the works and accomplishments of Robin Williams shortly after his death, there was also a time when hardly anyone on Facebook or Twitter considered Williams to be the voice of several generations. That time was barely a week ago.  Continue reading

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Buddhism in Myanmar: Extremism Galore

Myanmar is undergoing a state of upheaval and transformation. As of now, the country is experiencing changes on the political, economic and social frontiers.

Amidst such transitions, Myanmar is also witnessing increased cases of religious intolerance. In spite of its rich cultural heritage and legacy of socio-religious harmony, present-day Myanmar is surely not the best place for its religious minorities. Continue reading

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Scotland Deserves To Be Independent

Scotland is barely a few months away from the all-important date of September 18, when its citizens will vote to decide the future of their country. The stakes are high: on one hand, there are supporters of an independent Scotland, whereas on the other hand, there is UK Prime Minister David Cameron who will be left “heartbroken” if Scotland chooses to be independent.

To save his heart, and to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, David Cameron is even willing to offer 500m British Pounds (roughly $850m) to Glasgow. But nothing seems to quell the spirit for freedom in Scotland. Continue reading

A Kyrgyz opposition supporter runs with the national flag during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. (Photo: Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images)

Unity Is The Need Of The Hour In Kyrgyzstan

Recently, Kyrgyzstan commemorated the fourth anniversary of the violence that shook its southern part back in 2010. Back then, over 100,000 Uzbeks had to leave Kyrgyzstan and seek refuge in Uzbekistan in the aftermath of the riots.

It all started as a simple brawl between groups of Kyrgyz and Uzbek youngsters in a casino in the city of Osh. Shortly thereafter, it took the form of full-fledged ethnic violence. A lot many issues were highlighted by the incidents of 2010: Kyrgyzstan’s ever-subtle struggle for power and resources between the elites of Bishkek and their southern counterparts from Osh and Jalalabad, and the acute economic inequality between different communities, especially in the southern region of the country. Continue reading

The Growth of Caliphate until 750 CE

Sunni Caliphate Versus Shiite Imamate

So Iraq is in turmoil, and a full-fledged sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites looks imminent. Probably, USA will need to interfere yet again (there’s oil at stake, after all), and the inefficiency of Nouri al-Maliki’s rule has been exposed.

However, beyond all that, something else is worth discussing here. The message and motives of ISIS have clearly shown that they intend to restore the Caliphate, like it or not. This has sent the alarm bells ringing: Caliphate poses a threat to both Western hegemony in the region as well as the misrule of regional despots. Quite obviously, everyone is alarmed at the success of ISIS.

The fact that ISIS have shown a visible dislike for Shiite rule in Iraq further adds a new dimension to the age-old question: Sunni Caliphate or Shiite Imamate? Which one is better as a self-rule option for Muslims, and more importantly, for preserving the peace of the entire region? Continue reading

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Sudan Can Fix South Sudan’s Problems

In spite of the recent peace deal, the conflict in South Sudan seems to be far from over. Almost all the regional and international players that are involved in the peace process have their own agenda to pursue, and this has left the South Sudanese people highly vulnerable.

Amidst all this conflict, Sudan has managed to keep quiet. However, time has come for Sudan to be pro-active and play a bigger role in the current conflict in South Sudan. In all likelihood, only Sudan can pave the path towards sustainable peace in South Sudan. Continue reading

AMISOM Troops at Kismayo Airport in Somalia

Can Somalia Trust AMISOM?

When one asks a powerful neighbour to come to aid and defend one with his forces… These forces may be good in themselves, but they are always dangerous for those who borrow them, for if they lose you are defeated, and if they conquer you remain their prisoner.

– Niccolo Machiavelli

Each time I read about multi-national African forces such as AMISOM, the above statement from Machiavelli comes to mind.

Too bad the Somali leadership refuses to realize this, and time and again, they keep allowing neighbours such as Ethiopia and Kenya to interfere in Somalia’s internal affairs.  Continue reading

A South Sudan army soldier sits next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town, 308 miles northeast of the capital-city Juba. Photo: James Akena

South Sudan Has Failed To Justify Its Existence

Earlier in May, the government of South Sudan resumed its negotiations with the rebels. That very week, The Sudan Tribune reported that numerous civilians, who had sought shelter at a United Nations base in Bor, were killed by an unknown mob. Also, trainee soldiers were shot in Mapel, and several other civilians were killed in Bentiu, allegedly by the rebels.

The international media, on the other hand, either refused to cover the crisis in South Sudan, or simply chose to highlight the fact that both sides are now negotiating with each other. Sadly, the negotiations seem to be headed nowhere, and chances of peace in South Sudan do not look good.  Continue reading

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The Case of Arab Integration: Learning From Europe

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) recently published a study titled The Arab Integration: A 21st Century Development Imperative. Prepared by over two dozen writers and intellectuals from the Arab World, this report (spanning more than 300 pages) talks about the social, political and economic challenges that the Arabs are facing nowadays.

More importantly, the UNESCWA Report also addresses the problems that lie ahead in the Arab integration roadmap.  Continue reading