Crisis in Syria: What’s Happening Now and What Next? (audio)

United for Peace & Justice July 7, 2013
The war in Syria is worsening and President Obama has pledged to help arm the opposition to President Assad. At this point even though the vast majority of U.S. citizens do not want to intervene, President Obama has promised small arms. But war-hawks want to go further and try to create a no fly zone, provide heavy weapons, use cruise missiles to attack key targets and do whatever else they can to ensure the current regime falls. Join us for a panel briefing on Syria discussing what is happening to Syrians, what next, how we can push for no U.S. intervention and pursue avenues to end the violence. Listen to the June 26th panel briefing on Syria with Suzan Bouland, Dr. Stephen Zunes and Captain James Yee talk about the situation in Syria. Scroll down to listen to the full presentation, Q & A or individual presenters.

Banned in Phoenix: How the Arizona State Bar Association Considers Analysis of International Law in the Middle East Too Controversial

Truthout June 25, 2013
This past week, the Arizona State Bar Association (SBA) held its annual convention. It appears that the ban on my participation is still in effect. It was exactly ten years ago that the session in which an academic paper I was scheduled to present on the application of international law in conflicts in the greater Middle East was abruptly cancelled just two weeks before its scheduled presentation at the 2003 convention. No one in the organization?s leadership could explain anything objectionable in the paper, which they acknowledged they had not actually read, but were apparently convinced by a right-wing campaign that I was “anti-Israel” and “anti-American.”

Managing Repression (video)

International Center on Nonviolent Conflict ( Fletcher Summer Institute 2013: Managing Repression June 18 [Video]

Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, emphasizes the international impact of repression, specifically how nonviolent responses in the face of brutal repression makes it easier to isolate the oppressive regime, whereas violent resistance, even where seemingly justifiable, could be seen as rationalizing further repression in the name of “national security” or “counter-terrorism.” He also addresses the importance of nonviolent discipline in encouraging defections by security forces and divisions within the regime.
Dr. Erica Chenoweth, Assistant Professor at the Josef Korbel School, University of Denver, discusses how repression affects nonviolent campaigns. She provides empirical evidence that nonviolent movements are still effective even against brutally oppressive opponents. She discusses how movements “manage” repression through the promotion of backfire, as well as the strategic options movements have in dealing with repression. She also provides evidence suggesting that nonviolent movements that adopt violence or develop armed wings are not usually advantaged relative to nonviolent movements. This is because using violence against the regime, even when provoked, can undermine the necessary public participation that nonviolent campaigns enjoy, and can also undermine the backfiring of regime repression.

Progressives Flock to Ed Markey’s Senate Campaign Despite Hawkish Record June 5, 2013
[Republished by the Huffington Post & Reddit]
Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts is heavily favored to win the June 25 special election to fill the US Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by John Kerry’s appointment as Secretary of State. Markey’s campaign has received widespread and enthusiastic backing from the progressive community, including endorsements from groups such as Peace Action and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) which have previously tended to formally endorse only a selected number of candidates who have strong records on peace and human rights. This nearly unprecedented level of support comes despite the fact that – even though he comes from one of the most liberal states in the country – Markey’s foreign policy record is well to the right of the majority of Democrats, both in Massachusetts and nationally.

The Last Colony: Beyond Dominant Narratives on the Western Sahara Roundtable

Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) June 3, 2013
[Republished by,, JADMAG, and]
   Western Sahara is a sparsely-populated territory about the size of Italy, located on the Atlantic coast in northwestern Africa, just south of Morocco. Traditionally inhabited by nomadic Arab tribes, collectively known as Sahrawis and famous for their long history of resistance to outside domination, the territory was occupied by Spain from the late 1800s through the mid-1970s. With Spain holding onto the territory well over a decade after most African countries had achieved their freedom from European colonialism, the nationalist Polisario Front launched an armed independence struggle against Spain in 1973. This (along with pressure from the United Nations) eventually forced Madrid to promise the people of what was then still known as the Spanish Sahara a referendum on the fate of the territory by the end of 1975. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) heard irredentist claims by Morocco and Mauritania and ruled in October of 1975 that (despite pledges of fealty to the Moroccan sultan back in the nineteenth century by some tribal leaders bordering the territory, and close ethnic ties between some Sahrawi and Mauritanian tribes) the right of self-determination was paramount. A special visiting mission from the United Nations engaged in an investigation of the situation in the territory that same year and reported that the vast majority of Sahrawis supported independence under the leadership of the Polisario, not integration with Morocco or Mauritania.