Category Archives: Asia

What’s Next for Libya

Mahmoud Jibril is the leader of Libya’s National Transitional Council, the official name adopted by the group of Libyans who have nearly overthrown Muammar Ghaddafi’s government. He has been educated in Egypt and the United States and represents an interesting paradox. His connections with both the West and the Arab world have given him the ability to work closely with partners in both regions with the result that countries as diverse as France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have officially recognized the NTC as the governing body in Libya.

Mr. Jibril also worked in the very government his movement has overthrown. He was the head of the National Economic Development Board from 2007 until the fall of the Ghaddafi regime. As head of the NEDB, Mr. Jibril lead efforts to privatize many of Libya’s industries and to liberalize the overall economic structure of Libya. through his position at the NEDB, Mr. Jibril worked closely with the United Nations Development Programme in an effort to spur and sustain economic growth and development in Libya.

Now that the NTC seems poised to take over the halls of government in Libya, it remains to be seen what kind of leaders they will be. There have already been reports that the armed rebels are filling in the peace-keeping roles abandoned by Ghaddafi forces and that they are doing a rather admirable job. The rebels may be filled with joyous exuberance, but it seems that most of the rest of Libya too is filled with a sort of cautious optimism. Let’s hope that the people of Libya can realize true self-determinaiton and self-rule and can create a model for the world.

*Author’s Note: While I respect the fact that, geographically Libya is traditionally considered to be part of Africa, by custom, tradition, religion, lifestyle, and societal norms, the Libyan people share a great deal in common with the people of Southwest Asia.

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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Africa, Asia


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The Arab Spring

In what has come to be known as “The Arab Spring,” revolutions, protests, civil war, or demands for regime changes have occurred in 17 nations across the Middle East and north Africa. Among the most televised were the protest that took place in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Many protesters were killed in clashes with police forces loyal to former head of state Hosni Mubarak. Following the protests, which caused the toppling of Mubarak’s regime as well as the dissolution of Parliament and the suspension of the Egyptian Constitution, a peace was restored to Egypt as the country and the people began to rebuild. Some however, chose to remain in Tahrir Square as a living memorial to those who had died as martyrs for their country.

There has been a growing impatience with these lingering protesters, however. There is little threat of renewed, prolonged violence, as most people accept, or even openly support the cause represented by these temporary residents of Tarhir, but most have come to think that it is time to move on. However, the Egyptian Army forcibly removed lingering protesters yesterday, amid calls from some residents of Tahrir to finally reopen the Square. The removal lead to heated skirmishes not seen in six months since the height of the revolution.

This removal also coincides with the beginning of Ramadan, the month-long period for fasting, spiritual purification, and communion with God celebrated by Muslims. Hopefully this skirmish is over quickly and the people of Egypt can move on to rebuilding their lives and their country.

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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Africa, Asia


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Harry Potter Goes to Indonesia

Several months ago, the Indonesian government proposed a new tax on foreign film studios wishing to screen their films inside Indonesia. The proposed tax was to be in the form of a combined 23.75% excise and 10% income tax on top of the tax collected on ticket sales. This move drew the ire of Hollywood, as well as movie studios around the world, and prompted many of the leading American studios to form a boycott of the Indonesian market. These studios had been spending about $6.2 million per month in Indonesia. The move was made to protect the domestic film industry, an industry which has produced only 2,200 movies since the first one in 1926. By contrast, the US industry has produced 520 films in the most recent year, while the Indian industry (the most prolific in the world) has produced 1,325 (according to these guys). The tax was almost immediately called into question by citizens and lawmakers alike, the tax went into effect and the studios went ahead with their industry boycott. There’s a report now that Harry Potter has worked his magic in Indonesia and has served as vanguard in what may be a re-opening of the Indonesian movie market. Warner Brothers just couldn’t bring themselves to leave the country of 245 million people without the final chapter of “The Boy Who Lived” and “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”. Indonesians may even get to see Transformers 3 and Kung Fu Panda 2 in theaters within the next couple of weeks.

As an aside, Indonesia is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit. It is the fourth most populous nation in the world (behind China, India, and the US) and is the most populous majority Muslim nation in the world (some 86% of Indonesians are Muslim). The first Europeans to reach Indonesia were the Dutch, who colonized the archipelago in the 17th century. Following nearly three centuries of Dutch rule, the Japanese invaded and colonized Indonesia during World War II. Following the war, the Dutch relinquished control of Indonesia back to Indonesians who suffered under a series of oppressive military regimes through the second half of the 20th century. Since 1999 however, there has been relative peace in Indonesia and tourism and industrial production now drive the economy. It’s history and geography have placed it at the crossroads of East and West, leading to an interesting and exciting fusion of cultures, attitudes, and customs.

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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Asia


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Japan Wins Women’s World Cup

Just four months after a tsunami devastated northern Japan, the Japanese women’s national soccer team shocked the world to win the Women’s World Cup. They beat the heavily favored women of the United States in a penalty shootout. They came rom behind twice in the game to tie the score; once in regulation to force overtime and once again in overtime to force a shootout. It was the Japanese women’s first win ever against the US in 25 matches. The game was dramatic and rivaled anything seen last summer in South Africa. Japan finished the tournament with just one fewer goal than the U.S. despite having 18 fewer shots on goal (an average of three per game). Japan is the first Asian team to win the ¬†World Cup, men’s or women’s.

Sunday also marked a social media milestone as the micro-blogging service Twitter set a new record for tweets per minute. The Women’s World Cup final caused quite a flurry of tweets; 7,196 per minute to be exact. This shows both the growth of popularity of the service in general and its popularity in Japan in particular. According to ComScore, Japan has the fourth highest Twitter penetration in the world. Twenty percent of Japanese citizens use Twitter. That means with an estimated population of about 128 million people, there are 25.6 million Japanese twitter users and each one of them had a huge point of pride to tweet about on Sunday.

Congratulations to the Japanese women and their win for the ages.

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Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Asia, Sports


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