Abdel al-Bari Atwan

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The two suicide car bombs in Damascus on 10 May were an alarming development. Before last December suicide bombs were unheard of in Syria. Now there have been 10 such attacks, becoming increasingly deadly – 55 died in the latest atrocity; and on 11 May another attack was thwarted in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, where a suicide bomber in a carwash killed five on 5 May.

Damascus and Aleppo are home to Syria's business and professional classes, who have not, in general, participated in the uprising, tending to remain loyal to the Assad regime. The suicide bombs have targeted government buildings, the security services and the ruling Ba'ath party's headquarters.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the death of Muammar Gaddafi the Arab spring has claimed a third victory. The Libyan people have the chance to build a just and democratic system of governance after 42 years of autonomous rule by the colonel, his family, his cronies and his tribe. No wonder there are such scenes of jubilation throughout the country.

Gaddafi's removal will be a source of great relief to the new government of Libya, whatever its ultimate composition. Gaddafi had billions of dollars at his disposal, in cash and gold, with which he was threatening to fund an insurgency and derail the revolution.

Nevertheless, the new regime would probably rather have captured Gaddafi alive to make a show of his trial, as the Iraqi interim government did with Saddam Hussein in 2004.…  Seguir leyendo »

Libya's Colonel Gaddafi is looking increasingly vulnerable as rebel forces, backed up by Nato, proceed with a well-planned campaign to surround and isolate his powerbase in Tripoli. The key towns of Zawiyah and Surman to the west of the capital and Garyhan to the south have already fallen into rebel hands. The apparent defection of interior minister Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah - who arrived in Egypt over the weekend with nine family members – is another serious blow to the regime. Gaddafi is besieged, exhausted and looking for a dignified way out.

It is only a matter of time, then, before the Libyan regime concedes defeat.…  Seguir leyendo »

Islamic experts assure me there is no prohibition of warfare during Ramadan. On the contrary, many of Islam's great conquests occurred during this holy month, including the first clash between Muslims and infidels, which occurred in 624 when Muhammad led his troops to victory in the battle of Badr. War for the furtherance of Islam and against non-believers is considered ethically acceptable by scholars, even during the month of fasting and prayer.

But this is not the situation in Libya. David Cameron, the foreign secretary, William Hague, and Nicolas Sarkozy are not the prophet Muhammad and his companions. Even if Nato's intervention in Libya were entirely without self-interest (and not about oil and lucrative commercial opportunities) Islamic clerics concur that it is absolutely prohibited for Muslims to seek the help of non-believers against fellow Muslims.…  Seguir leyendo »