Fikra Forum

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The Fikra Forum (FF) (sometimes referred to as Project Fikra) is:

"an online community that aims to generate ideas to support Arab democrats in their struggle with authoritarians and extremists. At a time of dramatic change across the region, Fikra Forum is the first near real-time, fully translated Arabic-English blog to provide a two-way platform for those in the region seeking to shape the future of their countries and U.S.-based decision makers and opinion leaders who are trying to understand and support those efforts".[1]

The Fikra Forum was set up by The Washington Institutue for Near East Policy (or WINEP), which in turn was set up by AIPAC. While FF was set up ostensibly to promote dialog and understanding, it is really an organ to influence US policy in the area and to affect the transformation of Middle Eastern societies[citation needed]. Most of the WINEP members of the FF are long-time neocons, and the FF project can be seen as a means to foster like-minded individuals and groups in the Middle East.

Critical Assessment

Jeffrey Blankfort reports:

[The NED] is currently involved in Syria where the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, headed by Radwan Ziadeh, has served as a front for its activities. Ziadeh is also the director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington DC, and has served as a spokesperson for the Syrian National Council, an organization of Syrian living abroad who have been calling for Western military intervention in Syria, a move that has been so far opposed by the opponents of the regime within the country. This has endeared him both to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Intiative, two pro-Israel neocon think tanks that are the successors to the Project for the New American Century. A less well-known connection to Ziadeh is to the Fikra Forum (Fikra meaning "idea" in Arabic), which describes itself as "an online community that aims to generate ideas to support Arab democrats in their struggle against authoritarians and extremists, and to provide a platform for those in the region seeking to shape the future of their countries, and US-based decision makers and opinion leaders who are trying to understand and support those efforts." What the site doesn't say is that the Fikra Forum is a project of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), arguably the most influential Capitol Hill think tank on Middle East issues. It was founded by AIPAC in 1985, and it has served as a vehicle to push Israel’s agenda ever since – a fact that the mainstream media never mentions. The presence of 18 Fellows or Associates of WINEP, including several of its leading officials, as Fikra’s list of contributors alerted me to what pretends to be an independent forum. But to understand what is happening in Syria today it is necessary not only to consider the repressive history of the Syrian regime under Hafez El Assad, and now under his son Bashir, but also the outside forces represented by the likes of Radwan Ziadeh, that have co-opted what initially started as a peaceful non-violent protest for a democratic reordering of Syria society in the spirit of the Arab spring. Prior to the peaceful protest, those outside elements soon began to use them as a cover for armed attacks on government forces with the obvious intention of provoking the Assad regime with heavy military force, as it has – thereby leading for external demands for foreign intervention and the demand for Assad’s ouster. Who is behind it? Well, the US, the British, the French, the Turks, the Saudis, Qatar and Israel.[2]

Contributors and Principals

Contributors
Ahed Al Hendi Ahmed Ali Ali Al Ahmed
Ali Alyami Ammar Abdulhamid Amr al-Azm
Andrew Albertson Asli Aydintasbas Bouchra Aquil Lawrence
Israa Abdel Fattah Ezzadin Alasbahi Jeffrey Azarva
Jon Alterman Michael Allen Mithal al-Alusi
Mohamed Abdelbaky Mohammed Almikhlafi Mostafa Al Naggar
Nadia al-Sakkaf Nahla Arif Rahman Aljebouri
Zina Askar Abdulwahab Alkebsi Abdelkader Benkhaled
Ahmad Badawy Daniel Brumberg Dwight Bashir
Hassan Barari Imad Bazzi Jeb Boone
Tony Badran Isobel Coleman J. Scott Carpenter
Katie Croake Leslie Campbell Sofiene Chourabi
Soner Cagaptay Steven Cook Charles Dunne
Matthew Duss Michele Dunne Tulin Daloglu
Andrew Engel Gamal Eid Moataz El Fegiery
Randa El Tahawy Basem Fathy Fathi Farid
Sarah Feuer Ben Gittleson Franz Glasman
Daniel Green Dina Guirguis Eleana Gordon
Joseph Gebeily Maya Gebeily Shafeeq Ghabra
Bahey El Din Hassan Emad El Din Hussein Jasim Husain
Mozn Hassan Neil Hicks Rana Husseini
Simon Henderson Saad Eddin Ibrahim Will Inboden
Joshua Jacobs Brian Katulis Elie Khawand
Johnny Karam Karam Michael Kremer Nadim Koteich
Sirwan Kajjo Abdul Salam Medini Ausama Monajed
Daphne McCurdy David Makovsky Firas Maksad
Joshua Muravchik Maria McFarland Stephen McInerney
Emile Nakhleh Abdelaziz Nouaydi Magnus Norell
Wael Nawara Youssef Nader Chris Opila
Josef Olmert David Pollock Mahmoud Pharaon
Walid Phares Joel Rubin Joseph Rizk
Josh Rogin Michael Rubin Ahmed Samih
Bassem Samir David Schenker Lokman Slim
Magdy Samaan Michael Singh Oussama Safa
Robert Satloff Andrew Tabler Eric Trager
Ilhan Tanir Reidar Visser Margaret Weiss
Dalia Ziada Radwan Ziadeh
Source
Fikra Forum:Contributors[5]
† = WINEP principal[6]
‡ = former WINEP principal (background color coded)

Funding

Fikra Forum is "grateful to the Nathan and Esther K. Wagner Family Foundation for their contribution to the launch of Fikra Forum".[7]

Affiliations

  • WINEP – Parent organization

Contact and Web prescence

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
1828 L STREET NW SUITE 1050
WASHINGTON, DC, 20036 US
Website: fikraforum.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Fikra-Forum

External Resources

References

  1. Fikra Forum: About Us (Accessed: 11 February 2012)
  2. 3:10 min mark, Takes on the World, 8 February 2012.
  3. Fikra Forum Inside the Free Syrian Army, organizational web page, accessed 14 February 2012.
  4. WINEP: AboutUs (Accessed: 12 February 2012)
  5. Accessed: 10 February 2012
  6. Determined from this list on 1 March 2012
  7. About Us (Accessed: 11 February 2012)
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