Final Post

The course of the past semester has been an incredible time to be studying the Middle East, and in particular the influence of media on the region. The Arab Spring brought a major focus to the boom of new media in the region, and the Arab world has changed in major ways in large part as a result of the growing culture of Arab media. Growth in the social media world since the overthrow of the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and the civil war in Syria has forever changed the culture of revolutionary spirit worldwide, and will likely continue to have a major influence. Similarly, the effects of growing internet access in the region and access worldwide to Arab news sources such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya have helped the outside world gain a new window into the perspectives of Arabs, as well as a greater understanding of the region than can be provided by longer-standing news sources with preexisting biases.

This class has helped me gain a much more in-depth understanding of Arab media and its effects on politics, and vice versa. The use of this blog to post content that may have been overlooked and discuss its significance has been a great opportunity, and has helped enrich the experience of the class. Reading classmates’ blogs has proven enlightening, and also provided a perspective of what others see as significant in the region, helping bring my attention to different perspectives and ways of looking at events and trends that I likely wouldn’t have noticed before. The truth is that as civil society reshapes itself in the Arab world, it seems the tail will wag the dog for a while, despite the government’s best efforts to crack down on media outlets that prove contrary to its interests (Egypt, anyone?).

Generally speaking, the focus among blogs has definitely covered a wide range of topics, though obviously the Syrian civil war has been a major point. However, the range of issues discussed has really  been interesting and never became boring. The media brought in proved at times funny, sad, and truly shocking, and humanizes what could otherwise have seemed dry analysis. The resources that we pulled from showed a truly diverse offering of authors, perspectives, and subjects, and kept things from becoming too stagnant. One challenge at times was keeping an analysis of a blog from being colored by the opinion of the original author, but working to overcome this proved effective and helped strengthen analysis. On the whole, the class itself was definitely memorable and if I had to do it again, I would.

Final Post of the Semester

This past semester, I have drastically increased my knowledge of the Arab world. This class has helped me understand many of the societal differences between the American culture and the Arab cultures.

Blogging was really difficult for me at first but after a while I got into the swing of things and began to dissect the views of our societies media towards the Arab world. It has allowed me to better understand my position in the world and has helped me better refute misinformation when I see it. By comparing my classmates posts and my own I have come to the conclusion that the surge in technology that we have been seeing is causing a conflict between the old world and the new.

As we discuss the growing feminist movement in the Middle East it’s easy to see the many instances where the new ideals are starting to take shape and strides in equality are being made. During the duration of our class we saw the emergence of Saudi Arabian women being able to ride bikes and being allowed into the Shara. We have seen the beginning of a movement that is starting to break the barriers of the old generation.

We were shown the many pieces relating to the emergence of Hip-Hop in the Arab world. How it has become the voice of the oppressed middle class and intellectuals, and how it’s gaining a reputation throughout the world. The lyrics are politically charged and shed light on the problems of the political chaos. We are also shown the heavy Metal aspect of that and how it’s being drowned in the heel of the oppressive religious regimes.

We have seen Syria slip deeper into the revolution and the various points of misinformation that surrounds the conflict. We have also seen the politics behind what was considered justifiable and the mysterious line that was crossed with the use of chemical weapons. How Israel has time and time again bombed Syria and oppressed the Palestinians. We have also seen the world’s opinion of the rebels shift from the voice of the people to another form of oppression.

We saw how Egypt reacted to the new form of government and its crackdown on the soccer riots and anti-governmental pundits. Throughout the Egyptian conflicts we were given various points of views from my classmates that introduced a more vivid picture on the societal repercussions.

We were shown the cultural biases highlighted by Edward Said, and instances where orientalism took over the medias opinions. The many opinions of our class highlight the various points of views behind the stories, and introduce a new avenue of thought. I could not ask for a better class, as every conversation we have had has been extremely positive and intellectually challenging.

I believe that blogging has allowed our class to form our own opinions of the Middle East and exhibit our findings to a wider audience. It has created a venue for open discussion and continued knowledge that could not have been obtained otherwise. Blogging has given us the tools to effectively find information, decipher whether it has bias, and form an opinion based on the facts rather than the conclusions that have been drawn by others.

Final Post: Response

Over the past semester there has been a great deal of information being spilled onto this blog. The majority of it encompassed Syria. The comic cartoons try to bring a smile to the face when such terrible things are happening in the region. I had never blogged before and did not think of myself as much of a writer. I did not know much of the Arab World, or even the difference between it and the Middle East. The politics of the Arab World had no place in my brain prior to this class. I guess you could say that after this course, I am no longer a typical ignorant American that thinks the world revolves around us. Not to say that I was before, but now I can successfully remove myself from that clique.

As for the Media, culture, and politics of the region. I am extremely impressed with the knowledge I have amassed about the region. I was familiar with the Arab Spring and new that social media had a key part in its success, but I did not realize to what extent. The technological freeze and internet blockage that occurred after the social media movement in the region blew my mind. As an American it is hard to understand a world where people are oppressed to much to the point where they cannot log online and talk to people around the world (A place I hope that CISPA does not take us Americans).

The links which Professor Roberts first blogged for us to use have proved to be an invaluable resource. The class as a whole has done a great job at using a variety of sources in order to convey their points. Prior to taking this class, I was naive to how many media outlets there were in the Arab World. I find it important to note that, as well all have laid witness to, not every  news source has the best intentions. In the 1970’s the United States battled its own Yellow journalism, something that the Middle East and Arab World are currently doing.  There are places where information is distorted and compiled in such a way to spin the story.

I find my classmates use of cartoons strips especially useful to get their message across. The detail inked into the paper is often allows a deeper message to be understood far better than any words. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Syria’s story is sad. It is hard to put a silver lining around the grey cloud of Syria. There is just far to much destruction, chaos and overall terrible things happening in that land. The oppression that continues to this day creates a flow of emotion. That is something that I believe everyone should have. Be emotional about something. Take a stand and learn about what is happening around the world. Find something in you that sparks a fire.

Coming out of this class I can say that I am now a more knowledgeable person and can successfully contribute to a conversation about the happenings in the Arab World.  To cap off my final blog, I would like to encourage all of the classmates and those people around the globe reading this blog to dive into other cultures. Become immersed into another world. Learn about something that scares you, something that makes the hair on your arm tingle, I have and I am a better person for it.

More Trouble in Syria

More Trouble in Syria

More trouble in Syria, the PKK, Kurdish Workers Party is quickly loosing its members. It looks like the people who would normally be joining the resistance are leaving to create ties with al-Queda. Jabhat al-Nusra is the group with ties to al-Queda.

The Turkish army has been in conflict with the PKK for some time now and is looking for a way out.

What does this mean for the United States?

Conflict in the Middle East is never a good thing. The United States always seems to find one way or another to become involved where it shouldn’t be. In the case of Turkey and the conflict is has, the US needs to stay out of this. The Turkish situation needs to be handled internally. When members are of the PKK are going to a known threat of the United States it is a very unsettling thing. However, the US needs to be a reactionary country. Of course, some preventive steps need to be taken, but moving forward and becoming involved with Turkish accounts is one of the dumbest things to do.

Hopefully us earthlings do not end up doing this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Amt9mLvQM5w

 

Final Blog Post, Reflection of the Semester

During the semester, I think this class and set of blogs have really been on point in discussing current events happening in the Arab world. This is a great time to be studying the Middle East because of its transition into a new world order and breaking of traditional norms. What I mean is, Arabs are now breaking away and subscribing to public discourse about their governments, politics and culture. With the hopefully outcome of democracy, or quasi-democracy, in places like Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, etc. citizens will be more engaged in media without being censored or restrained. Arrests of socialites like Bassem Yousseff have been an example of the constant  war on Arab freedom and expression.  Regimes in the Arab world need to realize that the political landscape and mood is changing. Leaders like Morsi, Marzouki, and Al Khalifa have been resorting to previous tendencies to control the individuals who gain some influence using outlets in the media.

I think this class has also been interested more into the war in Syria than any other topic. Rightly so, the constant conflict in Syria has been covered by virtually every news network. President Assad is clearly committing crimes against humanity and has been the sloe reason why the internal conflict has been raging for over a year. What will be interesting to see is how the countries like the United States,  Israel, Russia, and other relevant states will collectively bring an end if they decided to do so. A lot of the blogs have hinted that there should be United States or international intervention in the region. I would agree, but with minimal troops and military assets as possible.

On a personal note, I have learned a great deal in the course. I had no an idea of the many different types of media, and cultural influences on the Arab population. Arab graffiti and rap has been rally interesting to learn about since it is unknown to people over in the United States. Prior to this class, I was more focused on the politics of the Middle East. But after, I realized there is a huge connection between politics and the media. Especially in the current environment in the Arab World, with social media, Al Jazeera, and other mediums, it is hard not see their interdependence on one another.   In hindsight , Arabs use there media as a form of social expression and movement to cause change in the region. In the United States,  we use it more so for entertainment, news, and other forms of freedom of speech. For Arabs, it is there identity and platform  to the rest of the world.

What I will definitively take away from these blogs is that there is still Arab and Muslim suffrage; post-9/11, regime changes, and the Arab Spring. Individuals still find themselves in the grip of  dictators and oppressed by government factions. However there is still some amazing stories of individuals fighting for equality and the right to oppose government ideologies. The class has a done a great job commenting on important stories and trends that are relevant to the  Arab struggle and form of expression. I hope this type of discourse can continue outside of the classroom, because not many students at Roger Williams University are aware of the current climate in the Middle East.

Sryia’s economy: Oh Shit!

Sryia’s economy: Oh Shit!

This article comes from BBC a very respectable news source. While I was in San Diego for spring break this past march I had the pleasure of staying with my cousin and 3 Ensigns stationed at Coronado. One of the Ensigns grew up with me and my cousin. Joe, originally from Maryland, is an incredibly interesting individual. We spent hours discussing the N. Korea threat and what it meant for the Navy and the career and future of him and his men. Upon looking at the news across the country and the reactions it had, he left me with a quote, “If BBC doesn’t report it then I don’t need to know about it. ‘Dance moms’ and Taylor Swift don’t have shit on the real world.” I believe this speaks volumes about the news media in America verse the relevant international circuit. I digress (big time). 

The article talks about the economic decline in Syria due to the uprising and revolution. As much as the revolution was needed and was praised by the people of Syria, it brought an unwelcomed result in the finance sector. The former regime was an oppressive government but at least had stability to produce products to be exported as well as consumed by the citizens.  

In the article one man sheds light on the fact that even though the former government had the police hassle him to no end about his fruit cart, he became a Monday morning quarterback and realized that the police were better than dealing with the thugs. The lack of stability in the region forces the people to stick to cliques and band together. An animalistic attitude has been created and the men and women of Syria are doing what they can to survive, even if that is at the expense of their fellow citizens. 

The security, or lack there of, is something that cannot be taken lightly. A country needs to be able to protect its citizens and enforce laws. In a land where crime is rampant, freedoms need to be oppressed in order to build a responsible attitude to take care of themselves. 

What we can draw from this article is that sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side. What do you think?

Paradise…

There is no doubt that there are some horrendous places within the Arab world. But I want to take a look at the more beautiful places in the Arab world. After all, isn’t this the geographic birthplace of modern man kind? Mesopotamia is in the heart of the Arab world, but I fear that the world has forgotten about the beauty and historical importance the region has for the entire world. Image

The Middle East, as well as the Arab world, was once the true paradise for the entire world. We could not escape the beauty these lands give to us. It is truly a gift that all need to embrace and remember. Coldplay’s song Paradise might not have a political or cultural  focus on this region, but it makes us think of where our personal paradises are. For the captive elephant in the video, it is clearly the plains of Africa with his brethren. I want the rest of us to understand that there is beauty within everything. I want you to dive deep into the sands, the rivers, the oases, the wildlife of the region and find the beauty and paradise which I know is there. Ask the people who live there and they will undoubtedly tell you that they find it difficult to continue to live in such conditions, but they still love their home.ImageImage

I give you the link to Paradise by Coldplay. I hope that it will inspire you. Inspiration is all that this world needs. With it, anything can be accomplished.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G4isv_Fylg