Sada-e-Watan Sydney

The Hon. Shaoqett Moselmane MP

Round Table forum at NSW Parliament House about "The Arab Spring and it's Consequences"
(Report to Sada-e-Watan by: David Duffy, Convener - Round Table Forums, NSW Parliament House)

The 22nd Round Table forum at NSW Parliament House on November 15th was entitled "The Arab Spring and it's Consequences". The three speakers were Tom Switzer, editor of the 'Spectator' Magazine, The Hon. Shaoqett Moselmane MLC and Rev Fayek Iskander, Presbyterian Minister and expert in Islamic Studies.

The Rev Iskander; the first speaker, said that democracy will never work in the Middle East, as it runs against the history culture and traditions of a society which is tribal. He fears that the current and past upheavals will deliver formerly westernised countries such as Tunisia into the hands of Islamic Fundamentalists. He detailed many instances of severe persecution against Christians in Arab lands.

Hon.Shaoquett Moselmane said that there has been a misconception on the social and Political dynamics of the Middle East and that the parallel drawn with the collapse of the Soviet block under Communism was not accurate.

A prime cause of the uprising was poverty in some countries, secondly massive discontent at embedded systems of power, dictatorships and corruption in Egypt and other Regimes. Also spoke of the role 'social media' factor; well educated media savvy young people had used twitter Facebook the Internet to 'drive' the revolt.

He focused on three countries: Egypt, Syria and Bahrain.In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood is the big winner. 8o years in opposition. The young and the secular lead the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood reaped the benefit.
In Syria we have a predominantly uprising heavily sponsored by various Arab countries and in particular Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as U.S and West.

The Syrian Conflict is very bloody and the Assad Government has survived 1. because of its popular support due to the Syrian Govt delivery of free education health care, roads, infrastructure, military and police support and new institutions with significant popular support and loyalties to the Syrian Authority.

2. A divided and weak insurgency

Bahrain was a flash point which was seen as threat to Saudi Arabia.He feels that radical Islam will attempt to hijack the revolution.The three resolutions so far are 1) Regime Change 2) Civil War and 3) The Status Quo.

Tom Switzer said that exporting democracy to a tribal society does not work, democracy is not an export commodity, it is a do it yourself enterprise and must grow organically from the culture and fabric of a society. Unintended consequences may result from an attempt to export it. It depends also on the stable law abiding society with a stable opposition. Most Middle Eastern nations do not have the infrastructure to sustain it.

The source of law can either be God or the People but it cannot be BOTH. Tunisia was secular but since the revolution it is reverting to being an Islamic State. Rev Fyak Iskander had made a similar point.

The three talks were followed by lively and challenging questions from members of a well informed audience. NO the issue of the Arab Spring was NOT resolved at our forum but consciousness was definitely raised on one of the great upheavals of our time.The evening was a success.

The Hon. Shaoqett Moselmane MLC

Mr.Tom Switzer, Editor of the 'Spectator' Magazine

Rev Fayek Iskander


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