June 13, 2012 by Mohamed Ali Hassan
The peace and reconciliation process in Somalia has entered a critical juncture. A new Constitution, drafted with the help of the United Nations Development Programme, is scheduled to be adopted in the next few weeks. Will the new Constitution help deliver peace to a country ravaged by more than two decades of civil war? The optimism of the international community is not shared by Somalis themselves, who instead look with deep scepticism at a document that they perceive as externally-imposed, faulty and fundamentally undemocratic.
To understand this dynamic, one should start by questioning the facts. What is wrong with the new Somali Constitution and why has the adoption of this document been met with resistance by educated Somalis, religious figures, secularists, former Somali Prime Ministers, women, scholars and by Somali Diaspora organizations? First, there are issues concerning the content of the Constitution and the substance of its provisions.
Above all, the question of federalism remains deeply divisive. Views can be found both in support of and against Somalia adopting a federal structure. Those against the shift to a federal state appeal to the homogeneity of Somalia’s population; the lack of resources (human and financial) which would be needed to run a federal state apparatus; the divisive potential of adding a territorial layer to an already complex situation. All in all, one crucial question remains disturbingly unanswered: why federalism? Why is the rocky road of federalism necessary and/or better placed to serve the purposes of institution building within Somalia?
June 13, 2012 by Nathan William Meyer
“Have you eaten rice today?” In Asia this time honored greeting is synonymous with ‘how are you?’ and is heard from flooded paddies to corporate boardrooms. A passing reminder of how essential this crop is for the 3.5 billion people whose day begins and ends with rice. From India’s dusty plains to the metropolises of China to the Philippines’ emerald hills no common thread runs through Asia’s diverse cultures, mythologies, and languages like rice.
Japanese meals are referred to as morning, noon, and evening rice, Indian babies are introduced to rice in elaborate annaprashan ceremonies, and the Chinese New Year is greeted with ‘May your rice never burn!’ Commonplace and celebrated, the importance of rice cannot be overstated and this will only increase in coming years, as the world turns to rice to feed a global population set to exceed 9 billion by mid-century.
June 13, 2012 by Marshall Auerback
Hans-Werner Sinn, President of Germany’s Ifo Institute and the Director of the Center for Economic Studies at the University of Munich, has taken to the pages of the New York Times to explain why Berlin is balking on a further bailout for Europe.
Amongst the points that Sinn makes against German sharing in the debt of the euro zone’s southern nations is a legal one: “For one thing, such a bailout is illegal under the Maastricht Treaty, which governs the euro zone. Because the treaty is law in each member state, a bailout would be rejected by Germany’s Constitutional Court.”
June 13, 2012 by Esam Al-Amin
On Thursday June 14, the High Constitutional Court in Egypt will rule on two pending motions that may radically change the future course of Egypt and determine the fate of its remarkable – but unfinished- revolution. The two motions are the constitutionality of the political ban on the former regime senior officials, such as Gen. Ahmad Shafiq, the undeclared military’s candidate for president, and the constitutionality of last winter’s parliamentary elections. Each decision might drastically alter the power structure in the country, and possibly propel another revolution whose fate remains unclear. But how did we get to this point of complete uncertainty?
History will show that the unity displayed by the Egyptian people during the eighteen revolutionary days in early 2011 was decisive in convincing the Egyptian military to dump Mubarak and side with the people. Although the revolution was initially called for and led by the youth groups on January 25, soon after most political and social movements, religious and secular, and civil society groups including labor unions, professional syndicates, students, as well as the common man and woman in the street were demonstrating across Egypt by the millions, demanding the ouster of their dictator and the end of his corrupt regime.
June 13, 2012 by Scott Firsing
Boko Haram continued their killing on Sunday, 10 June 2012, when a suicide bomber blew up his car outside a church and gunmen opened fire on another service in Nigeria. At the same time, there is a fierce debate in Washington whether to designate the activities of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
FTO or not, Boko Haram is extremely sophisticated and well equipped. It uses a mixture of suicide bombers and gunmen, which was evident by Sunday’s attack. Often some members are in police or army uniforms while they carry out their carefully coordinated attacks on hard targets.