The fact that the Syrian authorities have given the green light for leading opposition figures to meet openly may be unprecedented, but it is not the sign of progress that many might hope for...the conference appears to be nothing more than part of a public relations exercise by a regime that is intent on showing the world it is serious about reform, but without actually being serious.

It was the dismal failure of Egyptian leadership in the region that was at the heart of the Arab predicament and the deep admiration of Turkey’s growing soft power. With the Arab Spring and particularly Egypt’s revolution, Cairo is now slowly re-emerging as the most likely candidate to fill the vacuum of strategic leadership in the Arab world.

Now is the moment for the cynics to drop their all-or-nothing criticism of sanctions, and to see them instead as a limited but useful tool. Because of their value in signalling and soft power; because they are often the only relatively inexpensive policy option; and because smart sanctions can be applied flexibly, they remain an important policy instrument.

June 8, 2011

The AKP argued that establishing ties with the Muslim populations around Turkey would endow Ankara with soft power. But the plan had a flaw: In undemocratic states like Syria and Libya, Ankara was not expanding its relationships with the people, but with brutal leaders such as Bashar al-Assad and Muammar al-Qaddafi.

Most accounts from rights activists as well as journalists on the scene and sociologists analyzing the situation clearly show that Facebook had an enormous influence on the start and spread of the uprisings, as well as their apparent domino effect. It served a primary means of communication.

A blogger whose frank and witty thoughts on Syria's uprising, politics and being a lesbian in the country shot her to prominence was last night seized by armed men in Damascus. Several Facebook pages had been set up on Monday evening calling for her release...and activists were tweeting using the hashtag FreeAmina.

As Arab uprisings sweep the Middle East, few images will likely unsettle Iran's leadership more than that of their flag being burned by Syrian protesters angry with the Islamic Republic's deep ties with Syria's dynastic regime.

Opponents of the Syrian regime gathered on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast on Tuesday for a conference aimed at overcoming their differences and bolstering protesters who have endured a bloody crackdown under President Bashar Assad. The meeting has drawn Syrian exiles living in the West and the Middle East, as well as some activists from inside Syria.