NEW BOOK Co-Authored: Tausch-Heshmati-Karoui, Announced by NOVA Publishers (NYC)

The Political Algebra of Global Value Change: General Models and Implications for the Muslim World

Link to Nova Publishers

Authors: Arno Tausch, Almas Heshmati and Hichem Karoui 
Book Description: 
This book is intended to provide a new approach to the study of global values and global value change, based on representative international survey data, above all, the World Values Survey. This theme is of growing interest not only to the international social science community, but also international policy makers and business and financial executives in the framework of international values and business studies.
Since the book is also designed to serve advanced graduate courses in sociology, political science and economics at Universities, government and business staff training centers, diplomatic academies et cetera, this book also contains themes for 10-20 minute statements (1000-2000 words) that students and course participants should be able to prepare after attending a course on global values.
This book is intended to provide a new approach to the study of global values and global value change, based on representative international survey data, above all, the World Values Survey, covering the entire population in an ever growing number of countries, and now already comprising some 90% of the total global population on earth. The importance of these data for international politics cannot be overestimated: foreign ministries, international organizations, ministerial planning departments of national governments, national intelligence agencies, international bankers and investors, pension fund managers, global insurance enterprises, organizations of national and international security, NGOs, religious communities, they all can benefit from these freely available data, which indeed will revolutionize our discourse on international politics and political culture.
In our book, we will attempt to define “cultures” on a global scale largely following Alesina and Guiliano (2013). Although some of our preferred World Values Survey indicators are different from those used by Alesina and Guiliano (2013), there is sufficient resemblance between the two approaches, and also there is a high correspondence between the choropleth geographical maps of global values, resulting from the research attempt by Alesina and Guiliano, and our own investigations.
We show in this book that the world economic rise of the global South, among them the BRICS countries and the countries of the Arab Gulf, is no coincidence: economic growth in the post-crisis period from 2008 onwards is highly and positively correlated with family values.
All too often, the loss of religion and the rise of the shadow economy, including in leading Western countries, go hand in hand. The decay of family values, which are so deeply enshrined in the religious commandments of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and which are also basic to the other global religious civilizations, goes hand in hand with the decay of economic and social values. (Imprint: Nova)

Read more


Hullabaloo about EU move

Hichem Karoui

The Gulf Today: July 21, 2013

A serious crisis is shaking the relationship between the European Union and Israel. The reason is the decision to ban 28 EU member states from funding or dealing with settlers in territories occupied by the Jewish state in 1967, according to the guidelines published in the EU’s Official Journal on Friday morning, July 19.

The guidelines adopted on June 30 limit “the application of agreements with Israel to the territory of Israel as recognised by the EU,” which means prior to the June 1967 occupation by Israel of the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. They also require any future signed agreements to recognise that these areas are not part of the Jewish state. They are applicable to all grants, prizes, and financial instruments funded by the European Union from 2014 onwards.

Prior to its publishing, “the document was circulated among all the EU institutions, foundations, investment funds and aid organisations two weeks ago, as well as to all 28 EU member states,” said the Israeli paper Haaretz (July 17). They go into effect on January 1.

In Israel, the reaction was utmost anger against the European Union.

On Tuesday, July 16, after the EU approved the guidelines, Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting. The Israeli government considered the guidelines “an attempt by the European Commission to coerce positions on issues which belong at the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations table.”

On July 17, Benjamin Netanyahu said new European Union guidelines against funding projects in Jewish settlements have shaken Israel’s faith in the bloc’s role in peace efforts. The policy marked in his opinion “the attempt to forcibly determine Israel’s borders through economic pressure instead of through negotiations.” Evoking the attempts by US Secretary of State John Kerry aiming to revive stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Netanyahu blamed the EU for such an attitude, which “hardens the Palestinian position and leads Israel to lose faith in Europe’s neutrality,” as he said.

Israeli President Shimon Peres displayed the same attitude. He urged the EU on Thursday, July 18, to delay stopping funding of projects involving settlements in the occupied territories as Palestinians and Israelis inch toward fresh peace talks.

Three European ambassadors have been called to a meeting in the Israeli Foreign Affairs ministry: the French, the British, and the German. A high-ranking Israeli official told AFP, “We asked the ambassadors to tell their capitals that no Israeli government would accept these conditions, and they could provoke a serious crisis with Israel.”

However, the EU does not seem impressed. It did not delay the date for publishing the document. The EU insisted that guidelines banning any dealings with Israeli Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories do not “pre-judge” the outcome of peace talks between the two long-time foes. “In no way will this prejudge the outcome of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton said.

“It has been the EU’s long held position that it will recognise changes made to the borders once agreed by both parties” in talks on a two-state peace accord, Ashton said in a statement.

These were the facts. Now, why are the Israelis so furious against the EU?

The answer is these guidelines will ineluctably isolate Israel in the international community, if Netanyahu carries on the same policy, pretending to accept the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians, while implementing new settlements as accomplished facts.

Since 1967, Israel has systematically transferred parts of its Jewish civilian population into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in violation of international law. Today, more than half a million Israeli settlers, including over 190,000 in and around East Jerusalem, live in settlements established on land illegally seized from the Palestinians.

In the summer of 2002, Israel began constructing its Wall in the Palestinian territories. The areas taken for the Wall, combined with settlement-controlled areas east of the Wall and in the Jordan Valley, will leave the Palestinians with only 54 per cent of the West Bank.

Just recently, in June 2013, Israel approved the construction of 1,169 units, including the settlement of Burchin (Salfit Area), settlements in the so-called “Gush Etzion” area (Bethlehem — Hebron) and the illegal settlement of Har Homa (between Bethlehem and occupied Jerusalem). That is equivalent to 39 units per day, or more than the average number of daily units built by PM Netanyahu’s government during his 2009-2013 term of office (24 units per day), according to a PLO factsheet released in July 2013.

Referring to official Israeli government statistics, the factsheet revealed that during the first quarter of 2013, construction in the West Bank increased by 335% in comparison to the last quarter of 2012 — reaching the highest level in seven years. Thus, “between January and June 2013, construction of 1,000 new housing units began in the West Bank, which includes Occupied East Jerusalem. Many of the construction sites are located deep inside the West Bank. In addition, since January, there have been 15,800 settlement housing units in various stages of planning, approval and development in the Occupied State of Palestine.”

Obviously, Netanyahu is not ready to stop the activity of the settlers. If he were sincere about resuming negotiations, he would have done so, though. What was he waiting for? Nevertheless, he dared blaming the Europeans for making a concrete step toward peace, since peace cannot be the result of the illegal settlements policy. The world is still waiting for the Americans to make the same step, especially in this second term of the Obama administration. The United States had always condemned the policy of illegal settlements, but had never done anything clear about stopping it.

The Europeans are not blind. They do see the impasse to which this policy has led. Silence over settlements would be felt as encouragement to continue on the same path. The EU is a partner to all the parties involved with the peace process in the Middle East. Its policy concerning this issue is not dictated by electoral calculations and Jewish lobby pressures, as was indeed the case for several US administrations.



Mandela’s Boat in Machiavelli’s Oceanَ

Aysha Taryam

 The Gulf Today :  July 21, 2012 
The world suffers not wars, famine or injustice but the lack of courage and the sudden death of moral responsibility. We live in a self-involved world governed by greed and guarded by hypocrisy. A crumbling world destroyed by the very reason it was created. It is a world where mirages of courage are glimpsed every so often but alas they are nothing but the trick of a mind longing to quench its thirst. Yet among all the falsities at times we find truth. We hear it in one’s words and witness these words come to life through one’s actions. This is a rarity, an anomaly if you wish, which makes the Mother Teresas, the Gandhis, the Martin Luther Kings and the Mandelas of the world names we will not soon forget.
The world has lost many of those lone warriors and as I write these words I fear for one of the remaining few as he battles for his life. Nelson Mandela is a man who at a time when the world forced him to remain silent shouted at the top of his lungs, a man who fought oppression and won, a man who for the sake of freedom lived most of his life a prisoner. At 95 years of age many argue that there is not much left he can offer, but it is not what he has yet to give that is at stake, it is what he stands for.
Today’s world cannot stand to lose the likes of Mandela for without them the future seems even grimmer. A few remain who can inspire us with absolute determination and endless devotion to their beliefs, and even fewer remain who will not falter at the pangs of pain or succumb to the lure of money. For no matter where your faith lies today’s world will find it and either beat it out of you, or buy it from you, it is as easy as that.
Mandela lived on his land but adhered to a foreign man’s law, he grew up witnessing the marginalisation of his people and the abduction of what was rightfully theirs. On Mandela’s land the white man differentiated, segregated and oppressed on the basis of colour alone. Mandela believed that no man should be silent in the face of injustice yet also understood the grave consequences of such a belief. Undeterred by doubt and propelled by the hope of freedom he took on a journey that no ordinary man can undertake, he walked through the thorny path of freedom and came out the other side bloodied, bruised but free.
The blood will wash away, the bruises will eventually fade yet the only thing that shall remain is a legacy of a man who unburdened his people, helped them take back their dignity when little was left of it and set them free.
Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1999, seems unfathomable for an African nation to get its first black president only 14 years ago but such is injustice, the greater its irrationality the stronger it becomes.
In 2001 Mandela visited Dar Al Khaleej Printing & Publishing in Sharjah and there he recalled his first visit to the United Arab Emirates in 1995. He explained his reluctance to visit a region of which he heard had no freedom, yet after visiting the UAE he told the attendees: “I found the complete opposite, I found a country that treats its people with greater respect than many ‘democratic’ nations in the West.” He pointed out that the great number of women in the audience shows just how progressive the UAE truly is.
In a world devastated by wars and bled dry by greed people are lost in a sea of Machiavellian grey where only the end matters and nothing else. This dreary fact makes it all the more sad to see the Mandelas of the world perish with little hope of others of their kind surfacing from these murky grey waters. In his quest for his people’s freedom Mandela discovered his hunger for the freedom of all people, he believed that even his oppressor was not free for he too is shackled by the chains of prejudice and bigotry. He sought to free his people and in the process also unshackle his oppressor. The world only hopes that more people would seek justice knowing that it can never be achieved by allowing hate to cloud one’s vision.
I leave you with Mandela’s words that have never left me:
“I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”
We wish you well Madiba, may you continue to inspire and enlighten forever.
This article was published in The Gulf Today newspaper on 21 July, 2013. 
An Arabic version of this article appeared in Al Khaleej newspaper on the same date

Egypt’s Revolution: Act II

Hichem Karoui

Fair Observer: 13 JULY 2013

The Muslim Brotherhood must learn the art of compromise and forget their initial goals.

On June 24, 2012 Mohammed Morsi, a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, won Egypt’s first presidential election after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. On July 3, 2013, following the huge protest movement of June 30, the Egyptian military stepped in to oust him, suspend the constitution, and appoint Adly Mansour, chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as interim president until new elections can be held. Read more


Why Egypt matters to Arabs

Hichem Karoui

The Gulf Today: July 14, 2013

As the crisis continues in Egypt, three observations should be made: first point, we have to admit that there is no good coup d’etat, no good military rule. Democracy and good governance are the affair of the civilians. Military officers, regardless of their professional competence, their nationalism, their humanism, their goodwill, are not qualified for governing countries, particularly after a popular revolution against dictatorship. The Egyptian military is no exception.  Read more


The Brotherhood’s fall

 Hichem Karoui

The Gulf Today: July 07, 2013

Coup or revolution? The question was raised following the ouster of president Mursi of Egypt.

The question is interesting, if not because of the importance of Egypt in the Arab world, at least for the $1.5 billion US aid, which may vanish right away if the Americans decide that what happened in this country is a coup. Under United States law, the Obama administration has no choice then but cut off financial assistance to Egypt.

Many observers consider Mursi to a large extent responsible for what happened.

An army statement, read out on television on July 1, had given Mursi 48 hours to reach a compromise with the opposition to ward off the imposition of political arrangements by the military. Mursi underestimated the ultimatum.

In a country where the rulers have all been high officers of the armed forces since 1952, it is hard to believe that Mursi or any other civilian could be blind to this truth. Maybe the biggest mistake of Mursi was his failure in understanding the importance of winning the military over. No ruler, since Nasser, has been able to run Egypt without the military backing. Did Mursi neglect this fact because he was the first democratically elected president of the country? Did he neglect it because he overestimated his own capacities and those of the Muslim Brotherhood? Anyway, even if he underestimated the role of the military — which is per se a grave mistake — he did nothing to unify the country behind his leadership so to gain a large popular support. Such political blindness is the result of an ideological commitment: i.e. the belief that the Muslim Brotherhood has gained enough strength to break with the rules that have hitherto prevailed on the military-civilian relationships in Egypt.

Some observers assumed that Mursi was threatening the military. Because he was the first civilian president, his rule “could spell an end to the system of massive military corruption and patronage that has gone on for decades in Egypt.” It is known that the military controls over 40 per cent of the Egyptian economy.

Was Mursi really a threat to them? Maybe not yet, but in the long term, the Brotherhood might be assessed “dangerous” from the military perspective.

On July 1, Mursi spoke to Obama on the phone. The White House said that the US president encouraged him to respond to the protests and “underscored that the current crisis could only be resolved through a political process.”

No change in Mursi’s attitude.

On the same day, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to Sisi, his Egyptian counterpart, to remind him of the US law requiring “cuts in military assistance in most cases when a country’s armed forces are involved in an unconstitutional change in government.”

No change in the military’s attitude.

On July 2, London Evening Standard ran a story referring to “a retired army general with close ties to the military.” According to the report, “a panel of experts would draft a new constitution and the interim administration would be a presidential council led by the Supreme Constitutional Court’s chief justice and including the defence minister, representatives of political parties, youth groups, Al Azhar Mosque and the Coptic Church.”

On the same day, Fox News announced that Mursi was holding talks all day with army chief General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. At the same time, The National Salvation Front, the main opposition coalition, said it would not support a “military coup” and trust the army statement does not mean it would assume a political role.

On Wednesday, July 3, hours before the military’s deadline to the president and opposition to resolve the nation’s political crisis was set to expire, army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Sisi was meeting with his top commanders. Still no change in Mursi’s attitude.

Gehad Al Haddad, a senior Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, told CBS News, “I think it’s a coup … We are shifting our tactics. We have had a scenario for this for some time. If military moves on the ground we have a plan for that.”

What plan? Haddad thus confirmed the military’s worse apprehension.

As of approximately 3pm Mursi is no longer president. The military removed him, put him in detention, arrested his allies and suspended the Constitution.

In his televised statement, General Al Sisi noted the armed forces were adhering to their civil responsibility and not looking to move power. Flanked by opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei and the Coptic Pope, the General unveiled their road map which included suspending the constitution, putting the chief justice in charge, calling for early elections, setting up an interim technocrat government, and forming a committee to amend the constitution.

So, is it a coup or a revolution?

In Cairo, opponents of Mursi argue that what happened was not a coup since it was backed by millions of civil demonstrators.

Sara Khorshid, an Egyptian journalist who took part in the June 30 protest movement said, “There is no democracy under military rule.” Yet, she knew that the military were coming and she continued to support the movement, though. Why? Because, as she explained, “Mursi’s rule had not been democratic, either. Throughout the year of his presidency, protesters who opposed him were violently crushed by the police and by Muslim Brotherhood members. He supported the interior ministry in its violent tactics against demonstrators and failed to probe incidents in which protesters were killed. Journalists and activists were arrested, and the president issued an edict giving him immunity from judicial review.”

The movement “Tamarod” (Rebel) that started a campaign against president Mursi has reportedly collected over 22 million signatures. It is not a negligible fact.

Mursi’s supporters are still holding the street. “We declare our complete rejection of the military coup staged against the elected president and the will of the nation,” the Brotherhood said in a statement, read by senior cleric Abdel Rahman Al Barr to the crowd outside the Rabia Al Adawiya Mosque in Cairo.

The New York Times cited Essam Al Haddad, Mursi’s foreign policy adviser, before the military detained him and cut off all his communication. “The overthrow of an elected Islamist government in Egypt, the symbolic heart of the Arab world,” Mr Haddad wrote, “would fuel more violent terrorism than the Western wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In Egyptian Sinai just hours later, thousands of Islamists rallied under the black flag of jihad. They were calling for a “war council” and chanting “No more election after today.”

Egypt is deeply divided. The anxiety about its near future remains as it was before the ouster of the president.



Syria’s great unknown

Hichem Karoui

The Gulf Today: June 30, 2013

Is there a growing schism between civil activists and military fighters in Syria as some reports suggest?

Assumedly, such a rift has always accompanied revolutions, conflicts and movements of liberation. The History of the USA as the contemporary history of decolonisation proves it.

In the USA, as J.M. Bradsher observed, the military prevalence has been precluded because of the ideological and historical background of the American revolution with respect to American fears of power, anarchy, standing armies, and military despotism; the American’s faith in their militia; and their insistence on civil supremacy being the guiding principle of the civil-military relationship. However, the Third World’s movements Read more