The intention behind ‘Aqoul (an Arabic word for “reasonableness” or “understanding” that deliciously doubles as a name for the prickly desert shrub, Camel's Thorn) is to create a space for discussion, debate and general blithering on about the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. 'Aqoul also touches on the MENA fringe, including adjacent countries, areas with religious or cultural similarities (e.g. containing a high proportion of Muslims) and other nations (such as in the West) where social, political, economic or other interests intersect. Let us call it “MENA writ large”.
The impetus behind this is the fairly low standard of dialogue, debate and commentary that one finds, to use the ugly and pretentious phrase, on the “blogosphere". The objective then is to provide a space for the specialist, the non-specialist (whatever either means) and others with an interest to comment, analyze and exchange, and hopefully to provide some small respite from ideological axe-grinding of the Left, Right or other partisan variety, while still allowing pointed differences and the occasional bloodletting.
The intended scope of interest ranges from the political, to the social, to the cultural, to the economic, to literary. The intended point of view is rational, self-critical and iconoclastic. The “founding group” – to use a slightly absurd phrase – contains a variety of views, religions (or lack thereof), and nationalities, so should, one hopes, the readers and contributors.
As the above defining what ‘Aqoul “is” or “pretends to be” seems vague, perhaps a word on what ‘Aqoul is not and does not intend to be.
‘Aqoul does not want to be a place to fight political battles more tied to outside the region politics. It does not intend to become a place for irrational American centric Israeli-Palestinian flame wars, unbalanced and irrational conspiracy-driven anti-Islamic or anti-Western or anti-Christian or anti-Hindu blithering on, undue and unbalanced pissing and moaning about the evils of any given country and in particular the United States in MENA or its Administration’s policies therein.
That is, ‘Aqoul wants to be a space of “take a step back” analysis and commentary.
This of course is stated in the sheerest optimism.
The 'Aqoul Newsroom collects RSS feeds from MENA blogs, "mainstream" news media and useful politics and foreign policy blogs from Europe and the United States.
Books & Media
In response to requests for reading lists and resources for learning more about the Middle East and North Africa, the 'Aqoul contributors have assembled a select bibliography for visitors interested in the region and its history.
Collectively, all “reasonable” contributors, by which one means
reasoned commentary not based on delusional conspiracies and the like,
are welcomed and desired. A reasonable diversity of views is both stimulating
and difficult to achieve. This site should not become a dead space of
arch “specialist” commentary, anyone with a decently coherent
and reasonably rational argument, point of view, diatribe or critique
should feel free to engage. If you are interested in contributing to 'Aqoul,