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December 1, 2013
THE TAHRIR FORUM
EGYPT’S AL-AZHAR STEPS FORWARD
Ahmed Morsy, Nathan Brown
The downfall of Egypt’s elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013 has not resulted in the separation of religion and state in the country. Indeed, something quite different seems to be occurring: religion is being nationalized. READ MORE
EGYPTIANS LOVE THEIR COUNTRY, HATE THEIR GOVERNMENT
Magued Osman
Patriotism is a natural feeling, but can the same be said about the dislike of government?​READ MORE
WHAT EGYPT’S CONSTITUTION MUST ACHIEVE
Seifeldin Fawzy
Egypt’s military-backed roadmap—criticized by some activists and commentators as undemocratic by virtue of its inception following President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster on July 3—is in a crucial phase. The drafting of a new constitution for Egypt has the potential to put the country on the right course. READ MORE
THE GOOD NEWS OUT OF YEMEN
Nabeel Khoury
Yemen remains the only country to have gone through the Arab Uprisings with neither a descent into civil war nor an abrupt course reversal. The good news is that Yemenis from all factions and regions are still talking; the bad news is that a couple of large bumps on the road need to be dealt with before the political dialogue reaches fruition. READ MORE
IS U.S. POLICY IN SYRIA CHANGING?
Rami G. Khouri
I was struck a few days ago when I read U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement in Riyadh, after talks with the Saudi Arabian leadership, that the United States had neither “the legal authority nor desire” to intervene in Syria.READ MORE
TUNNEL VISION
Zack Gold
Since June 2013,the Egyptian military has maintained its most effective operation yet against tunnel networks in the Sinai. Looking forward, though, it is unclear how long Egypt can sustain the current success in tunnel closures. READ MORE
GEZI PARK’S SOCCER FANATICS
Sean David Hobbs
Protests in Gezi Park continue to be a powerful symbol against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party. However, few outside of Turkey know that the “hooligan” soccer fans of Istanbul were instrumental in the first days of the Gezi Park occupation and protest. READ MORE
EGYPT’S LOSE-LOSE MENTALITY
Magued Osman
Will Egypt’s political scene remain as violent and hollow as it is now? Instead of searching for a framework within which both sides can emerge as winners (if only relatively), each faction is striving to ensure that the other loses everything, even at the cost of emerging themselves from the battle empty-handed. READ MORE
ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GRAPPLES WITH SYRIA
Danny Postel
What if progressives devoted just a fraction of the energy and effort that went into mobilizing against a U.S. military strike to the cause of bringing Syria’s nightmare to an end? READ MORE
THE REBIRTH OF SUDAN?
Hamid Eltgani Ali
Sudanese demonstrations, starting in the city of Niyala in Darfur and extending to engulf Wad-Madin and Khartoum, took most observers by surprise. Few countries came out in support of the uprising. This uprising has now become strong enough to be called Sudan’s Revolution. READ MORE
TUNISIA’S POLITICIANS PLAY ON
Fadil Aliriza
Recent headlines have heralded the demise of Tunisia’s governing Islamist party, Ennahda. In fact, this interpretation is misleading. Ennahda and its coalition partners committed to talks and an opposition-defined roadmap which enjoins the current government to resign three weeks from the beginning of discussions. READ MORE
IN YEMEN, DRONES AREN’T A POLICY
Nabeel Khoury
I recall the good old days in Yemen from 2004 to 2007—that is, relatively speaking. I was then the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, which pretty much enjoyed the run of the country. Sanaa is now classified as an unaccompanied post, meaning it is too dangerous for diplomats to bring families with them. READ MORE
BEAUTY OF THE PLEIADES
Turki Al-Faisal
Arabs have the greatest respect for the faith and culture of Iranians, as well as the indelible Persian contribution to the marvels of Islamic society. But like all worthwhile achievements, Persia’s greatest masterpieces were the product of cooperation and education, of learning from and with people of other backgrounds. READ MORE
THE GENERALS RULE EGYPT AGAIN
Rami G. Khouri
Egypt and its democratic aspirations have been grievously wounded by the swift and severe manner in which the armed forces evicted and jailed Morsi, arrested most of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, killed hundreds of pro-Morsi demonstrators, and then started exerting pressure on the mass media to conform to the generals’ policies. READ MORE
CONTESTED SYRIAN IDENTITIES
Tarek Osman
Syria’s future will not depend on the actors that will dominate specific parts of the country in the medium term. Two other factors are more crucial: how the largest segments of the society will define Syria; and how that social view would affect sectarianism in the country. READ MORE
TUNISIA’S NEGLECTED CONSTITUTION
Robert Joyce
More than two and a half years since the revolution, Tunisia still lacks a new constitution—and no one seems to care. Although many agree on the document’s content, ongoing fights are keeping Tunisia in transition, free of the old regime but not yet able to focus on the reforms the country needs. READ MORE
THE LIMITS OF REFORM IN SAUDI ARABIA
Adam Coogle
The man who heads Saudi Arabia’s infamous religious police made headlines recently when he publicly acknowledged that “Islamic sharia does not have a text forbidding women driving.” For many Saudis, this statement signaled a possible sea change in attitudes among the country’s hard-line religious establishment, at least on that issue. READ MORE
FREEZING AID WITHOUT A STRATEGY
Jonathan Guyer
Since Morsi's ouster, U.S. military hardware has been a stark feature of Cairo's skyline. But American policy—the reason for that military aid to Egypt—remains ambiguous. READ MORE
BEYOND NEGOTIATION FETISHISM
Assaf Sharon
Breaking the Israeli-Palestinian impasse requires challenging the exclusivity of direct, bilateral talks. The fetishism of negotiations must be overcome, keeping in mind that negotiations are but a means to an end. READ MORE
CLEAR OPTIONS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Rami G. Khouri
It is easy in the Middle East these days to embrace one of the two opposite poles of political sentiments that define the region today—either romantic optimism or a despairing pessimism. As usual, a more accurate and nuanced picture of reality is to be found somewhere between those two extremes. READ MORE
THE COST OF SYRIAN REFUGEES
Nikita Malik
The cost of Syrian refugees is putting a tremendous strain on the Jordanian economy. In addition to increasing resentment within the tribal population, the presence of Syrian refugees has also provided a boost in support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan’s best-organized opposition, thereby adding to the tension the Hashemite Kingdom faces. READ MORE
EGYPT'S CHOICE: CONSTITUTIONALISM OR IMBECILITY
Rami G. Khouri
An Egyptian court’s decision Monday to ban all activities in the country by the Muslim Brotherhood is the kind of foolish act that autocratic governments take when they do not know how to engage in a process of democratic pluralism and seek refuge in their mistaken sense of infallibility. READ MORE
WHAT WILL EGYPT MEAN FOR MOROCCO
Mohammed Masbah
Following the events of July 3 in Egypt, Morocco’s leading Islamist Justice and Development Party risks losing some of the advantages it gained following the constitutional amendment of July 2011—not to mention fears of marginalization within an already hostile political field. READ MORE
BIG ISSUES REVOLVE AROUND TEHRAN
Rami G. Khouri
The Moscow-Washington tango that resulted in the Syrian chemical weapons agreement was a first class diplomatic show that will be analyzed by political scientists and pretzel makers for a generation. Every actor in the spectacle claims victory and national strategic benefits, as always occurs in successful diplomacy. READ MORE
NO ALTERNATIVE BUT SUCCESS
Nasser Arrabyee
On Sunday, September 8, members of the Southern Separatist Movement (Hirak) returned to Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) following a month-long boycott. Their return—following a series of meetings with Jamal Benomar, the UN Envoy to Yemen, about the possibility of a separate north-south dialogue conference to be held after the NDC and to involve other separatist factions (not all of whom are party to the dialogue)—shows that Yemen’s NDC has overcome its latest hurdle. READ MORE
STRENGTHENING EUROPE’S ROLE IN EGYPT
Nathalie Tocci
Limited as the EU’s influence may be, creating incentives—such as the ‘more for more’ approach—would offer a series of benchmarks and principles for the Egyptian roadmap, especially in the field of constitution and institution building. On the other hand, maintaining business as usual risks undermining the EU’s credibility. READ MORE
REMEMBERING BILL STELPFLUG
Rami G. Khouri
Just before the Syria war, I received a letter from the mother of the late Lance Corporal Bill J. Stelpflug, who joined the Marines in 1982 and was sent to Beirut in May 1983. A massive bomb destroyed the marine barracks on October 23, and Bill died in that attack. READ MORE
WHAT NEXT FOR THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
Abdullah Al-Arian
There is an eerie familiarity to the dire circumstances in which the Muslim Brotherhood currently finds itself. As in the 2011 uprising, the 1952 revolt by the Egyptian military’s Free Officers was supposed to usher in a new era of possibilities for the Egyptian people: independence, economic prosperity, and even representative democracy. READ MORE
SEVEN LESSONS TO LEARN IN SYRIA
Rami G. Khouri
The diplomatic and psychological thriller of the current announced plan by U.S. President Barack Obama to attack Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people has now been dramatically shaped by the Russian proposal for Syria. We might draw some lessons so far. READ MORE
DEITIES AND DEFENSE MINISTERS
Rami G. Khouri
Syria is the most dramatic moment of the Middle East today, but it is not the most consequential political development in the region today. That honor would have to go to the current attempt by the interim Egyptian government to ban the Muslim Brotherhood organization and its political party. READ MORE
IS SAUDI ARABIA STABLE?
Sada Debates
Saudi Arabia appears, on the surface, to have escaped the Arab Uprisings untouched. Five experts on Saudi Arabia discuss the kingdom's prospects for maintaining stability. READ MORE
SYRIA SHAKES LEBANON
Nabeel Khoury
It has become a cliché among Levant scholars that Lebanon is a microcosm of the Middle East, and therefore a key to understanding the region. True enough. In Lebanon, the impact of the Syrian war is shaking the very foundation of the Lebanese social contract. READ MORE
OVER THE BRINK
Heiko Wimmen
Geography and history dictate Lebanon’s inevitable entanglement in Syria’s civil war. Yet its own leaders are now pushing the country over the brink; they are gambling with the livelihood and safety of their people—with no regard or empathy. READ MORE
A HARD PROCESS TOWARDS COMMON VALUES DEMOCRACY
Rami G. Khouri
I suspect that what Egypt is experiencing now is not the end of Islamist politics, but the start of its first real test in the public political sphere that is still in the process of being born in Egypt and other Arab countries. READ MORE
SINAI’S ROLE IN MORSI’S OUSTER
Sahar Aziz
President Morsi's refusal to employ heavy-handed tactics to stop the increasing flow of arms and militants into Sinai—and his seeming disinterest in avenging the deaths of Egyptian soldiers—led the Egyptian military to join the ranks of his detractors. READ MORE
TURKEY BEYOND ISLAMISM AND AUTHORITARIANISM
Ziya Meral
As protests spread and grew first in Istanbul, then in other parts of the country, we all struggled to conceptualize what we were witnessing. Many in Turkey opted for clear and neat narratives, which often left out other aspects of the protests and burdened events with legendary meanings ascribed onto them. READ MORE
TWO ISSUES AT STAKE IN SYRIA
Rami G. Khouri
It is quite stunning to experience for the sixth time in a decade a global debate about whether Western powers should use their military superiority to attack Arab countries in order to get those Arab countries to conform to “international norms.” READ MORE
EGYPT'S COPTS, BETWEEN MORSI AND THE MILITARY
Febe Armanios
On July 3, Coptic Pope Tawadros II appeared at a news conference alongside Egypt’s political and religious figure. He spoke briefly in support of President Muhamad Morsi’s ouster. It was the first time a Coptic pope had addressed Egyptians at an explicitly political forum, live on national television. READ MORE
THE AGONY OF THE SMASHING OF SYRIA
Rami G. Khouri
The vigorous debate about whether an American-led military strike against Syria would be appropriate and effective is heart-breaking, for it is agonizing to watch as another important Arab country follows the self-destructive trajectory of others before it, such as Iraq and Libya. READ MORE
FOUR COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS EGYPTIANS HAVE
Mahmoud Salem
It’s the golden age of rumors in Egypt, especially with the lack of “unbiased” news sources. Add that to the nationalistic wave in the country, misconceptions get viewed as fact. Very few people will attempt to clear those misconceptions without risking to antagonize others, but it is a risk I am willing to take. READ MORE
A RETURN OF VIOLENT ISLAMIST INSURGENCY IN EGYPT?
Jerome Drevon
Despite extreme declarations made by shadowy groups, it is unlikely that Egypt will witness a return to the violent insurgency that plagued the country in the 1990s.READ MORE
WHEN POLITICAL CLODS COLLIDE
Rami G. Khouri
Thursday of this week was a bad day in modern Arab history. The four leading Arab cities of recent eras—Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Cairo—simultaneously were all engulfed in bombings and urban warfare, mostly carried out with brutal savagery and cruelty against civilians in urban settings. READ MORE
CONSTITUTIONALLY IMBALANCED
Maâti Monjib
Constitutional reform in Morocco appeared to give more power to the elected government and parliament. However, the palace has maintained a free hand to interpret the constitution and to keep the balance of power in the country in its favor. READ MORE
DEMOCRACY VERSUS SECURITY
Rozina Ali
Simplifying Egypt into the narrow dualism of ‘us versus them,’ the military has re-established a dominant role for itself on Egypt’s political stage, one that has gone largely unchallenged by the Egyptian public. READ MORE
EGYPT MUST AVOID A ‘SPIRAL OF SILENCE’
Magued Osman
The mistake we appear to have fallen into—in the wake of Brotherhood rule—is the search for an enemy to whom we can assign all blame for previous mistakes thereby justifying otherwise unjustifiable exceptional procedures. Such a situation will lead to mistakes being committed that are just as grievous as those perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. READ MORE
KNOWLEDGE TRIUMPHS OVER THE KNUCKLEHEADS
Rami G. Khouri
The scholarship and serious popular literature on the Arab region in much of the Western world has improved vastly in the past few years, for the simple reason that authors have been forced to write about the realities of what ordinary Arab men and women have put on the global agenda. READ MORE
THE TERRIBLE LESSON FROM EGYPT
Akram Belkaïd
It is important for us, as supporters of democratization in the Arab world, to take a stand against what is happening in Egypt. Like it or not, the Muslim Brotherhood is a key player in Egyptian political life. Killing people will not solve any problems, quite the contrary. The bloody assault against the Brotherhood protesters is a shame and a serious crime. READ MORE
BEFORE THE BLOODLETTING: A TOUR OF THE RABAA SIT-IN
Amy Austin Holmes
For the record, not everyone who took the bullets at Rabaa belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. I visited the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in the night before security forces besieged it. READ MORE
NASRALLAH’S “BRING IT ON!” MOMENT
Nabeel Khoury
The Secretary General of Hezbollah's speeches are always purposeful and addressed to specific audiences. On this occasion, he wanted to buck up his Shia supporters and warn Arab states and his internal Lebanese adversaries not to be encouraged by any Western initiatives to think they could defeat his party. READ MORE
AL-QAEDA'S CRIMINALS AND THE REST OF US
Rami G. Khouri
What should we conclude about the dramatic American reaction to alleged Al-Qaeda threats in the past week? And is there a better way to analyze and respond to the threats that Al-Qaeda does represent?READ MORE
TUNISIA AND ‘THE EGYPTIAN MODEL’
Fadil Aliriza
Ever since the abrupt end of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, there has been endless speculation about whether the Islamists governing Tunisia would suffer the same fate. An examination of how the similarities and differences are emphasized by the various parties. READ MORE
PUBLIC ATTITUDES ON THE EVE OF MORSI’S FALL
Magued Osman
The degree of uncertainty that prevailed in Egypt’s political scene during the last ten days of June has certainly been unprecedented. The expectations of the political elite, both those occupying the seats of power and those standing on the front lines of the opposition, are wildly divergent. Everyone misread the popular reaction.READ MORE
THE WASHINGTON JERKOCRACY STRIKES AGAIN
Rami G. Khouri
I would love to know who the jerk is who wrote the White House’s press statement on the occasion of the inauguration earlier this week of the new Iranian President, Hassan Rowhani. I say this is the work of a jerk, or a band of war-addicted zealots in Washington, DC, because it seems designed to totally bury the opportunity that Rowhani represents to improve the wellbeing of Iranians and resolve Western-Iranian and Arab-Iranian tensions on a variety of important issues.READ MORE
ENNAHDA AND THE CHALLENGE OF POWER
Rory McCarthy
Tunisia’s Islamist movement Ennahda is facing its most serious crisis since coming to power. At the same time the threat of Salafi radicalism is deepening in a country long presumed to be an oasis of secularism in the Arab world.READ MORE
U.S. OPTIONS IN SYRIA, SCRUTINIZED
Nabeel Khoury
For action to be taken on Syria, it is not the options or the feasibility that are lacking; it’s the political will and the realization that action not taken now is simply an action deferred. As the problem grows, the U.S. will find itself compelled to act.READ MORE
A FALLING-OUT AMONG BROTHERS?
Raphaël Lefèvre
Whether in the street or in parliament, Islamist parties and movements have relied on one key strength for their successes in the immediate post-Arab Spring period—their cohesion and unity. But this could be endangered in the wake of Mohamed Morsi's ouster from the Egyptian presidency. READ MORE
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM 45 YEARS OF NEGOTIATIONS?
Rami G. Khouri
Watching Monday night’s resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in Washington, D.C., I thought back to the last 45 years during which I have closely following Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, and have personally known many of the main negotiators and aides on all sides. So here is what I suggest we keep in mind as this process resumes.READ MORE
JORDAN AND THE WIDER ARAB DILEMMA
Rami G. Khouri
Jordan reflects the dilemma that many Arab governments and countries have experienced for years—the economy continues to grow at a reasonable pace of around three percent, as do improvements to infrastructure and basic services, but daily economic pressures on citizens also persist, or worsen in some cases, leading to chronic frustrations that take on a political character. READ MORE
TEXTS: THE UNITED STATES AND IRAN
Cairo Review
READ MORE
TIMELINE: IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Cairo Review
READ MORE
WHAT WILL BECOME OF EGYPT?
Sada Debates
Following mass protests, Egypt’s military intervened on July 3 to remove President Mohamed Morsi from office, marking a dramatic turn in the country’s post-Mubarak transition. Four Egypt experts and Sada contributors weigh in on Egypt’s current predicament. READ MORE
SPARE US THE INTELLECTUAL DISNEYLANDS
Rami G. Khouri
Egypt continues to mesmerize, and, it seems, for many people around the world, to mystify, as well, at least to judge by the many wild and definitive assertions we hear every day about the consequences of developments in Egypt.READ MORE
IT IS 1789 IN EGYPT
Rami G. Khouri
I support enthusiastically the will of the Egyptian people, because in my book any citizenry that once worshipped cats and more recently removed two autocratic military and theocratic-thugocratic regimes is a citizenry defined by wisdom and sensibility. But we still do not know really what is the will of the Egyptian people, who are deeply divided, and lack the institutions of governance that would allow for an orderly affirmation of majority and minority views.READ MORE
THE ISLAMIC STATE IN CONTEXT
Tarek Osman
Over the past 1,352 years, since the death of Imam Ali (Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and the fourth “Rightly Guided Caliph”), not a single state that emerged in the Arab World has been Islamic. READ MORE
POPULAR LEGITIMACY ASSERTS ITSELF IN EGYPT
Rami G. Khouri
The dramatic developments in Egypt since June 30 will continue to unfold at a brisk pace and many outcomes are possible, but we can draw four main lessons from the events to date, related to the Muslim Brotherhood, the opposition, the armed forces, and the citizenry as a whole and its determination to complete the democratic transition that started in January 2011. READ MORE
HISTORIC STREET POLITICS IN EGYPT, TURKEY AND BRAZIL
Rami G. Khouri
The fascinating simultaneous demonstrations and challenges to democratically elected regimes in Egypt, Turkey and Brazil this month suggest that we need to look for an explanation for something structural in newly democratized societies, rather than seeking cultural explanations. READ MORE
EGYPTIANS ASSESS THEIR FUTURE
James Zogby
Two and a half years after demonstrations erupted in Tahrir Square leading to the downfall of the Mubarak government and one year into the presidency of Mohamed Morsi, we polled 5,029 Egyptians nationwide to assess: the public’s mood; their confidence in the country’s institutions; their satisfaction with the performance of the Morsi government; and their hopes for the future.READ MORE
ON RELIGION, POLITICS, AND DEMOCRATIC LEGITIMACY IN EGYPT
Amr Hamzawy
Since the 2011 January revolution that toppled Egypt’s former regime, the relationship between religion and politics has dominated debates in Egyptian society. The subsequent transitional phase inaugurated a difficult journey toward democracy, rule of law, a citizenship-based state, and power devolution. READ MORE
BREAKING THE DEADLOCK IN THE WESTERN SAHARA
Irene Fernández Molina
Respect for human rights is a common denominator in the Western Sahara conflict that the international community should back at all costs. READ MORE
APOCALYPTIC WORDS FROM MEN IN HIDING
Rami G. Khouri
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s broadside of sharp accusations against Hezbollah a few days ago is symptomatic of the entire Lebanese political scene and system—spirited, adversarial, apocalyptic, mostly accurate in its accusations, dire in its predictions, but probably insignificant in its practical, immediate consequences.​READ MORE
INSIGHTS INTO ARAB YOUTH TODAY
Rami G. Khouri
When I visited Cairo this week for the first time in nearly a year, the changed mood among young and old alike hit me in the face like the hot and dusty wind coming off the Egyptian desert. READ MORE
THREE HUNDRED DAYS OF PRESIDENT MORSI
Magued Osman
During Morsi’s first hundred days in office, Baseera conducted three opinion polls on presidential job approval ratings, in which Morsi enjoyed high approval. Seventy-eight percent of respondents approve of his performance, while only 15 percent disapprove. Seven percent weren’t sure. But since then, his ratings have dropped significantly.READ MORE
JORDAN AND TURKEY MIRROR THE CITIZEN-STATE CHALLENGE
Rami G. Khouri
The link between citizen and state is still being negotiated in almost every country in the region, even in those countries like Jordan and Turkey that have enjoyed relatively stability and improved living conditions for nearly a century or so.READ MORE
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: THE SECOND ARAB BATTLE
Rami G. Khouri
Recent history suggests that states that try to restrict their citizens’ ability to speak their mind peacefully and constructively are fighting a losing battle. READ MORE
OF IDENTITIES AND INSTITUTIONS
Ibrahim Hatlani
The Saudi version of religion has proven to be an effective weapon for the monarchy to rely upon in facing political and security crises, and the rulers have become highly adept at using religion and state clerics to expand their own influence. However recently, Salafi clerics have begun to fear a change to this long held agreement. READ MORE
THE NEW AND THE ORDINARY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Rami G. Khouri
Every once in a while the Middle East region experiences a series of major and simultaneous developments in several different arenas, indicating that something important is taking place. We are passing through just such a moment this week.READ MORE
SALAFISTS ON THE MOVE
Rami G. Khouri
The sudden escalation of fighting in the north Lebanese city of Tripoli is troubling on two fronts and noteworthy on a third. The troubling dimensions are the chronic nature of urban warfare on Lebanon’s streets and the direct linkages between the Tripoli battles and the fighting in Qusayr, Syria. The noteworthy element is the growing role of Salafists.READ MORE
SALAFISM’S MARCH THROUGH NORTH AFRICA
Tarek Osman
“This is not the Tunisia we know,” the head of a respected Tunisian think tank told me as thousands of Salafists marched through the heart of Tunis’s old Medina, steps from one of its most exclusive restaurants, one that serves premium French wine under the watchful eye of a stern sommelier. READ MORE
CHINA ADDRESSES THE MIDDLE EAST
Rami G. Khouri
I would rather have the Chinese and Russians involved in seeking some kind of breakthrough in peace-making than merely sitting on the side and leaving the arena to the hapless Americans who have proven over the past 45 years that they enjoy neither the political impartiality nor the law-based constructive rigor needed to be a successful mediator in this conflict. READ MORE
THE BATTLE OVER EGYPT’S JUDICIARY
Nathan Brown
Egypt’s elected Islamists have locked horns in a struggle with the judiciary that veers between full confrontation and guarded accommodation. READ MORE
NEW SPOTLIGHT ON EGYPTIAN JEWS
Maha El-Kady
The ordeal of the film "Jews of Egypt" has raised many concerns about freedom of expression in Egypt and also revived a debate about the rights of Egyptian Jews. READ MORE
AMERICA AND A CHANGING MIDDLE EAST
William J. Burns
I’ve learned a few things about the Middle East during my own checkered thirty-one year career in the Foreign Service. It seems to me that a workable, long-term American strategy has three inter-connected elements: support for democratic change, economic opportunity, and regional peace and security. READ MORE
THE REAL SCARE IN SYRIA IS NOT CHEMICAL WEAPONS
Rami G. Khouri
Neither chemical weapons use nor American involvement strike me as the most significant elements of the Syria conflict that should grab our attention.READ MORE
FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION
Magued Osman
The issue of free flow of information must not be seen as an intellectual luxury in a time of growing challenges facing Egypt. Rather, the issue should be tackled as a component of a package of new orientations for building a modern state.READ MORE
DROP THE FAILED APPROACHES AND TRY NEW IDEAS
Rami G. Khouri
Much as I support any opportunity to restart Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, I doubt that we will make any progress on this front if we stick to the approach that has repeatedly failed and now seems to be replaying itself. READ MORE
ARAB TRANSITIONS ARE SLOW FOR GOOD REASONS
Rami G. Khouri
As various countries across the Arab world navigate difficult transitions from former dictatorships to new forms of governance, much remains unclear in terms of exactly how much citizen participation and government accountability will prevail. READ MORE
OUT OF EGYPT
Tarek Osman
Egypt’s 2011 uprising has triggered an emigration wave, which could have perilous social and economic outcomes. READ MORE
STABILITY AT ALL COSTS
Anne Wolf
While observers may disagree about the various reasons Algeria has proved thus far resistant to the Arab Spring, there can be no doubt about the role of the regime’s notorious Department of Intelligence and Security (French acronym, DRS). Perhaps aided by the lingering memory of Algeria’s bloody civil war—which took as many as 200,000 lives—the DRS has been effectively able to prevent protests from turning into a revolution. READ MORE
KUWAIT'S HISTORIC CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
Rami G. Khouri
I am mesmerized by the continuing political developments in Kuwait—and to a lesser extent in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries—where thousands of citizens of a wealthy, paternalistic and generous Gulf oil-producing country continue to protest against the government on a variety of issues anchored in rights, rather than material needs.READ MORE
NOSTALGIA AND NAIVETE—WATCHING ARGO AS AN IRANIAN AMERICAN
Holly Dagres
My reaction to last year’s blockbuster hit, and now multiple Oscar-winner, Argo was probably different than most people. Watching those Americans trapped in Tehran, bizarrely enough, evoked memories of my adolescence.​READ MORE
SYRIA IS COMPLICATED -- SIMULTANEOUS CONFLICTS ALWAYS ARE
Rami G. Khouri
The conflict in Syria has assumed more dangerous dimensions with the latest developments along the Syrian-Lebanese border, where forces with and against both the Syrian government and Hizbullah have engaged in cross-border shelling. READ MORE
SOLACE AT THE STATE’S EXPENSE
Magued Osman
Even if Egypt were a very rich country—the richest country in the world—is it morally permissible that condolences published in newspapers by officials are financed from the money paid by taxpayers? READ MORE
PAINFULLY FOLLOWING IRAN IN THE U.S. MEDIA
Rami G. Khouri
One of the most annoying aspects of spending time in the United States, is to follow the news coverage of Iran in the mainstream American media. Well, calling it “news” coverage is a bit of a stretch, because the mainstream American media is not really reporting news about Iran, but rather repackaged ideological attacks and threats that emanate primarily from the American and Israeli governments.​READ MORE
UNITING FOR TUNISIA?
Monica Marks, Omar Belhaj Salah
Recent polls place Nidaa Tounes—a self-proclaimed “modernist” party founded in the summer of 2012—nearly neck and neck with Ennahda, Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party.READ MORE
THE DAWN OF DEMOCRACY
Hüseyin Avni Botsali
Egyptian people and political forces are in need of hammering-out a new national covenant. A social contract that will unite all segments of the society, empower the people, give them the long needed safeguards for freedom, dignity, justice, and ultimately, the motivation to build a prosperous future by reviving the economy through accountable, transparent governance. READ MORE
AMERICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST – II
Rami G. Khouri
A foreign power like the United States cannot devise a new policy on, say, Iran, Arab democratization, or terrorism, without also reassessing its stance on other key issues like Israeli colonization, or using drones as assassination machines.READ MORE
PLAGUED BY INSECURITIES
Monica Marks
While fragmentation of state power has increased freedom of political and religious expression in Tunisia, it has also generated a certain amount of instability and criminality which reflect the state’s weakness and inability to implement the rule of law. READ MORE
AMERICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST – I
Rami G. Khouri
It is also worth viewing Obama’s trip to the Middle East from the perspective of the Middle East itself, where perceptions of the United States and its actions in the region are very mixed, and largely negative.READ MORE
JUDGE ISLAMISTS BY PERFORMANCE, NOT PIETY
Rami G. Khouri
Are Islamist groups gaining or losing popularity in different Arab countries? Are Islamists of all varieties better at governing with a legitimate electoral mandate, or better at being opposition groups that only serve their narrow constituencies with a variety of social services and organized piety? READ MORE
UPGRADING URBAN EGYPT
Mohamed Elshahed
The state has turned a blind eye and because of the lack of accountability and the current political uncertainty no long or short term solutions to such fundamental infrastructural problems have been initiated. READ MORE
HUGO CHÁVEZ & THE MIDDLE EAST: WHICH SIDE WAS HE ON?
Danny Postel
There’s a less discussed dimension of the Chávez legacy to examine: his relations with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, a story whose significance became more salient with the onset of the momentous changes the region has been undergoing over the last few years. READ MORE
THE DIPLOMATIC SERIAL FAILURES
Rami G. Khouri
Understandably, Middle East circles these days increasingly speculate about whether President Obama will explore opportunities for re-launching peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Less understandable is why a leading American publication should turn for advice on this issue from former diplomat Dennis Ross. READ MORE
U.S. POLICY ON SYRIA IS NAÏVE AND COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE
Rami G. Khouri
At the start of my current trip in the United States, the single question that dominates Mideast-watchers here in the New World is what to do about Syria, and whether or not the United States should provide military assistance to the opposition groups fighting to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad. READ MORE
THE ROYALS’ NEW RULES: BACKSLIDING IN BAHRAIN
Amy Austin Holmes
The Al Khalifas of Bahrain, the Sunni family which has lorded over the Shia-majority population since 1783, has a long history of thwarting revolutionary uprisings. They’ve recently added five new tactics to their repertoire. READ MORE
EGYPT’S OPPOSITION NEEDS UNITY—AND LEADERSHIP
Seifeldin Fawzy
Where is the Giuseppe Garibaldi, Simón Bolívar, or Mustapha Kamel of the January 25 Revolution? The lack of an outright leader has badly harmed the opposition movement’s ability to impact politics. READ MORE
ARABS SEEK CITIZENSHIP AND STATEHOOD
Rami G. Khouri
Beneath the surface reality of turbulence that occasionally reaches violence or stalemate is a much more complex, time-consuming and hopeful trend.READ MORE
THE REFUGEE FACTOR
Kai Kverme
The waves of Syrian refugees seeking a safe haven have further exacerbated the division among the Christian parties in Lebanon.READ MORE
REMAKING ARAB CIVIL SOCIETY
Rami G. Khouri
One of the profound developments now taking place in the ongoing Arab uprisings and transformations is the breakdown of the neat categories we have long used to understand and analyze political life. It's time to rethink terms like “civil society."READ MORE
THE RISE OF SYRIA'S KURDS
Heiko Wimmen , Müzehher Selcuk
Since the summer of 2012, the beleaguered Syrian regime has all but abandoned areas predominantly inhabited by Kurdish populations. Meanwhile, the Democratic Union Party, a Syrian Kurdish group, is gaining ground politically and militarily.READ MORE
THE GANGLAND POLICIES OF CERTAIN 'EXCEPTIONAL' NATIONS
Rami G. Khouri
For anyone who wonders why so many people around the world criticize American and Israeli foreign policy and militarism, this has been a valuable learning week. I refer to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense, and the twin Israeli attacks against military targets in Syria.READ MORE
ALGERIAN CRISIS: THE PRIMACY OF LE POUVOIR
John P. Entelis
The terrorist assault on one of Algeria's central natural gas processing plants posed a direct challenge to the structure of the country's military-industrial complex.READ MORE
UNHAPPY ARABIA
Ibrahim Hatlani
Activists are increasingly speaking out on topics of reform and rights in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, each with their own interpretation of the necessary course.READ MORE
MUBARAK’S RETRIAL AND ERROR
Tarek Osman
The decision by a court this week to overturn President Mubarak’s—and former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly’s—life sentences and retry them will stir up new confrontations. Mubarak’s fate will be the finale of the dramatic story of the first Egyptian Republic.READ MORE
THE BROTHERHOOD’S COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM
Max Strasser
Out of economic necessity, Morsi will likely sign a deal with the International Monetary Fund. But the incoming loan will be accompanied by a set of fiscal conditionality that could make the already precarious president and his Freedom and Justice Party even less popular. READ MORE
TWO YEARS ON: TUNISIA’S SOCIAL PACT
Rami G. Khouri
The populist-driven revolution in Tunisia has opened political space for everyone in the country to compete for a share in power and governance, and to reach consensus on the new constitution and other historic changes.READ MORE
ALL UNIONIZED AND NOWHERE TO GO
Joel Beinin
Almost a thousand new unions independent of ETUF have been established since the January 25, 2011 uprising. But workers have not been a strong factor in the post-Mubarak national political arena.READ MORE
JORDAN AT A CROSSROADS
Rami G. Khouri
I am convinced that if you want to visit only one country to gain insights into the many forces that are shaping our region, Jordan is the country to visit. READ MORE
MOROCCO’S ENGAGEMENT WITH THE SAHEL COMMUNITY
Benjamin P. Nickels
The Arab Spring opened up new partnership opportunities for Morocco, Africa’s only non-African Union member country, which has been long isolated by the Western Sahara conflict and its rivalry with neighboring Algeria. READ MORE
ARAB WORLD LESSONS FROM 2012
Rami G. Khouri
The year 2012 will be remembered as an important milestone in the development of the modern Arab World, because it has started to reveal the underlying but long-hidden strengths and weaknesses of Arab societies and states.READ MORE
AFTER BATTLES COME SYRIA'S ECONOMIC CHOICES
Omar Dahi
The political opposition has estimated rebuilding costs at about $60 billion, but they have yet to specify exactly how and where the money will be spent. READ MORE
CRITICAL LESSONS FROM EGYPT'S CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM
Rami G. Khouri
The first round of the constitutional referendum last week was a perfect microcosm of everything Egyptian -- it was majestic in scale, profound in meaning and consequence, erratic and messy in implementation, unpredictable in outcome, and entertaining in every respect. READ MORE
BREAKING THE SYRIA STALEMATE
Amr Al-Azm
The Syrian regime and its core pillars of loyalist military support have yet to acknowledge that their situation has become critical, let alone perilous. What can Syria's opposition do to shake up the stalemate? READ MORE
WHY HAMAS
Wasseem El-Sarraj
After the war, over dinner, I’d used the word hurriya (freedom)—but before I could finish a girl working at one of the large international NGO’s interrupted me: “Don’t say that: you will remind us we are under occupation.” It’s a stunning statement that reveals the delicate balance in Gaza.READ MORE
THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARAB UPRISINGS
Rami G. Khouri
In the next few days we will mark the second anniversary of the start of the Arab uprisings, when Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia on December 17, 2010. The balance sheet of change in the Arab world over these two years has been epic and historic, but often turbulent and even chaotic, as citizens continue to shape new governance systems that respect rather than demean them.READ MORE
EGYPT SUPPRESSES WORKERS’ VOICES
Erin Radford
On the heels of the hotly contested decree granting the Egyptian president unlimited authority, President Morsi also amended the nation’s 1976 trade union law, further raising concerns for Egypt’s democratic transition.READ MORE
MORSI’S CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM: THE STATE OF PLAY
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
On December 1, President Morsi issued executive order no. 397/2012, calling for a referendum on the new constitution’s final draft, which had been passed by the Constituent Assembly only the day before. A primer on the referendum slated for December 15.READ MORE
AMATEURS TAKE OVER IN EGYPT
Rami G. Khouri
Unlike Nelson Mandela who spent decades in jail and then showed his compassion, flexibility and statesmanship when he became the president of South Africa, Morsi is unable at this stage to act as the magnanimous leader of all Egyptians.READ MORE
THE ALLURE OF GUNS AND LAWS
Rami G. Khouri
Armed revolution, international legality, or home-grown constitutionalism? These three options for national change are simultaneously being used this week in the three Arab countries that arguably have had the most impact on the Middle East region in the last century—Syria, Egypt and Palestine. READ MORE
EGYPT'S FIVE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT
Rami G. Khouri
The dramatic events in Egypt over the past few days following President Mohammad Morsi’s unilateral decree giving him unchallenged political authority should not surprise or frighten anyone. In fact, the continuing developments can be seen as a positive stage in the country’s historic political transition from autocracy to democracy. READ MORE
THE STATE OF KUWAIT
Mariwan Hama
On November 5, Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah, confirmed that he would go ahead with the changes he made in the Kuwait’s electoral law this past October 19. This amendment to the electoral law ahead of the December 1 parliamentary elections is likely to escalate the political crisis in Kuwait.READ MORE
GAZA'S FRAGILE UNITY
Jared Malsin
The 2011 uprisings placed Hamas in the awkward position of attempting to align itself with a wave of popular revolts while simultaneously clamping down on protests in Gaza. But despite the domestic crackdown, Hamas managed to emerge from 2011 in a stronger regional position.READ MORE
WHAT'S NEW IN THE GAZA-ISRAEL BATTLE
Rami G. Khouri
More killing and destruction will not resolve this conflict, but a lack of a fair and negotiated resolution also means that more killing and destruction are inevitable. READ MORE
ISLAMISTS AND THE IMF
Farah Halime
Is the International Monetary Fund loan permissible under Islamic law? Egypt’s Islamist movements have signaled that this is the case and have gone out of their way to endorse the $4.8 billion package despite more than a year of lobbying that aimed to do the opposite. READ MORE
U.S. AID AND EGYPT: IT'S COMPLICATED
Thalia Beaty
In examining U.S. assistance to Egypt, the United States will need to confront some uncomfortable truths about the militarization and inflexibility of American foreign policy in Egypt. READ MORE
THERE WILL BE NO CIVIL WAR IN LEBANON
Rami G. Khouri
The political tensions and a handful of local clashes following the assassination last Friday of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau head Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan reflected a tragic but rather routine sequence of sentiments and events in this country, where political assassinations have occurred regularly for half a century. READ MORE
STILL FIGHTING THE LAST WAR? EGYPT'S JUDGES AFTER THE REVOLUTION
Nathan Brown
Reformist judges may be finding themselves better equipped to fight with yesteryear’s Mubarak than with this year’s more complicated rivals, and the struggles over the coming years are likely to feature a different set of issues—or perhaps, more accurately, unexpected iterations of the older concerns over autonomy and authority. READ MORE
GAZA 2020: A LOOMING, AVOIDABLE CATASTROPHE
Robert Turner
By 2020 the population of the tiny Gaza Strip will grow by half a million people: 500,000 more to be fed, housed, educated, and employed. Let us address the root causes of this looming disaster rather than expecting the international community to foot the bill to mitigate their disastrous consequences.​READ MORE
SEZNEC ON THE NEW SILK ROAD
Fritz Lodge
There is a new Silk Road quietly emerging that connects the booming economies of East Asia with the oil-rich Gulf states of the Arab Peninsula and, through them, European markets accessible just across the Suez canal.READ MORE
BAHRAIN: HUMAN RIGHTS AND POLITICAL WRONGS
Toby C. Jones
The Bahraini government is certainly interested in pushing a more progressive image abroad, but the truth at home is that authorities remain committed to pursuing a hardline political agenda that invariably involves sustained suppression of activists. READ MORE
MORSI'S MESSAGE TO AMERICA
Jonathan Guyer
Even as the goodwill won by Obama’s Cairo University speech has dissipated, the level of engagement pursued early in his term suggested a reevaluation of how America does business in the Middle East. Morsi deserves his own chance to win America’s goodwill, and he’ll have that very opportunity at the UN General Assembly.READ MORE
NEW ARAB REALITIES
Rami G. Khouri
We can already identify a series of genuinely historic, new and meaningful developments in many of the Arab states in transformation, after 21 months of the Arab uprisings. READ MORE
THE NEW LINEUP
Rania Al Malky
Choosing Generals, Brothers, Remnants, or LiberalsREAD MORE
DRAFTING CONSTITUTIONS
Khaled Fahmy
Toward Liberty, Justice, and Human Dignity READ MORE
ASSAULT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Daniel Williams
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has governed Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak—and apparently wants to hold on indefinitely—can’t justify itself on its record. Especially when it comes to human rights. SCAF presented itself as the shepherd of Egypt’s transition to democracy. Instead, SCAF trampled rights of Egyptians across the board, repressing speech and public gatherings and preserving an unfair justice system. In some areas, SCAF has outdone Mubarak.READ MORE
NOW, THE EDUCATION REVOLUTION
Malak Zaalouk
A Six-Point Strategy for a Paradigm ShiftREAD MORE
ROAD RAGE
Mohamed Elshahed
Road accidents are common everywhere, but what is striking in Egypt is how little the government seems to care, despite the high human and economic costs to society. An estimated 12,000 die and another 154,000 are injured in crashes each year, making Egypt’s roads among the most dangerous in the world. Accidents also cost Egypt as much as 30 billion L.E. ($5 billion) a year, according to some sources. Government neglect in road safety is yet another part of the legacy of misrule and unaccountability following decades of dictatorship.READ MORE
SPEAK, O EGYPTIANS
Lara El-Gibaly
This is an open mic night—the ninth of its kind—in Minya, a city on the Nile some two hundred kilometers south of Cairo. The performances range from the comic and the poignant to the explicitly political, but all have the same purpose in mind: to reclaim Egypt’s public space after the fall of the dictator. “When someone decides to speak their mind in public, even to tell a joke,” explains organizer Shady Khalil as he watches from the sidelines, “that’s political participation.”​READ MORE
A BAHA’I LITMUS TEST FOR EGYPT
Dwight Bashir
Could Egypt’s treatment of its Baha’is predict the future of its January 25 revolution?READ MORE
EGYPT'S WOMEN
Gro Brundtland
Women have played a prominent role, under very different circumstances, in all of the countries embroiled in the Arab Awakening, including Egypt. This is the promising side of the coin. But, a negative dimension also appears to be emerging. Gains made previously by women in societies in the Middle East and North Africa are being challenged. There are reports that women who played decisive roles in democracy movements are being excluded from negotiations on future systems of governments.​READ MORE
MIDAN EL-TAHRIR
Ahdaf Soueif
The Story of a SpaceREAD MORE
INSIDE THE CAGE
Nancy Okail
Like many, I had great hopes for change in Egypt after the revolution. I was excited to move back to Cairo as the new country director for Freedom House, an NGO that supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights across the globe. In August 2011, I packed up my life and my two-year-old twins and left England, where I had been living while working on my PhD, to return to my homeland. I was not naïve enough to believe that it would be an easy job. But I never imagined that just a few months later I would be in a cage. READ MORE
REFUGEE LIMBO
Shaden Khallaf
Refugees are among the most vulnerable, marginalized, and disadvantaged people in any society. They endure traumatic experiences including arduous journeys that often affect their mental health and physical wellbeing. They live with the insecurity that comes with being a refugee in a foreign land. They lack the legal protection afforded by citizenship and the traditional support structures and channels for recourse in cases of abuse or exploitation. And these woes become compounded many times over in periods of crisis—such as the upheaval that Egypt has undergone since the January 25 revolution.READ MORE
TEST OF FAITH
Febe Armanios
Over the last few decades, Copts—and most other Egyptians—have experienced various forms of political, social, and religious repression. But the Copts’ particular victimization as Christians became clearly highlighted just a few weeks before the outbreak of the January 25 revolution. READ MORE
A WOMAN'S PLACE
Maha El-Kady
Merna Thomas is the co-founder of a feminist group called Noon El-Neswa, or Her, which aims to harness the bourgeoning use of street art as a protest tool to challenge gender stereotypes and generally ignite debate about the place of women in Egypt. One of the most striking images produced by Noon El-Neswa activists is a stenciled triptych of three women wearing no veil, a hijab, and a face veil, respectively, with the admonition: “Don’t label me.” Sometimes a few words of text cry out against misogyny, such as the scrawl declaring “Nothing is for men only” seen around Cairo lately.READ MORE
A NEED FOR JUSTICE
Michael Wahid Hanna
How a nation in transition accounts for past injustices is a telling indicator of the overall health of transition. Egypt has changed in tangible and consequential ways. Yet, the initial promise and the sense of transformational possibility that marked the fall of Mubarak is now something of a distant memory. The Mubarak trial encapsulates many of the flaws that have undermined the prospects for fundamental change in Egypt. READ MORE
BIG QUESTIONS FOR PRESIDENT MORSI
Jonathan Guyer
With Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi taking the oath of the high office, the political party of the once-illegal Muslim Brotherhood officially reigns. But the Supreme Council of the Armed Forced (SCAF), an inseparable lever of Egyptian state autocracy, is still very much in charge.READ MORE
TURKEY’S ZERO PROBLEMS WITH NEIGHBORS POLICY 2.0
Nuh Yilmaz
Turkish-Syrian relations reached a new low after Syria downed a Turkish F-4 jet flying in international air space. Turkey changed its stance toward Syria dramatically, concluding that the incident was an intentional hostile attack and would be dealt with accordingly. READ MORE
EGYPT’S DEMOCRATIC TRIUMPH
Scott MacLeod
Mohammed Morsi's victory over Ahmed Shafik in the Egyptian presidential election is a political triumph for the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organization for most of the years since the country became a republic in 1953. It is likewise an important victory for Egyptian and Middle East democracy. Having edged perilously close to the brink of political chaos in recent weeks, due to repeated bungling of the transition process, Egypt has taken a very significant stride forward.READ MORE
THE ARAB WORLD'S MOST IMPORTANT BATTLE
Rami G. Khouri
The ongoing political developments in Syria and Egypt are important for many things, including democratic transitions, popular sovereignty, the rule of law, the quest for social justice and others. One issue, however, that has been highlighted in these two countries has been perhaps the central political dynamic of the modern Arab since its creation after World War One. This is the struggle between military officers and civilian politicians for control of the institutions of government.READ MORE
THE EGYPTIAN POLITICAL SYSTEM IN DISARRAY
Nathan Brown
The developments in Egypt over the past few days have thrown what had been a confused set of institutional arrangements into even greater disarray. The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) declared the parliamentary elections unconstitutional, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) announced a supplementary constitutional declaration with no apparent public input. On top of that, the first presidential election since the fall of Mubarak was held.READ MORE
THE EGYPTIAN MILITARY'S TWO BIG MISTAKES
Rami G. Khouri
The power grab in the past week by the Egyptian military and lingering Hosni Mubarak-era establishment, operating through the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), is such a blatant attempt to prevent a truly democratic and republican system of government from taking root in the country that it cannot possibly succeed. It will generate tremendous counter forces in society from tens of millions of ordinary and politicized Egyptians, who insist on achieving the promise of the January 2011 revolution that toppled Mubarak, and ushered in a slow transition to a more democratic system of governance.READ MORE
A TURBULENT BUT CONSTRUCTIVE MOMENT IN EGYPT
Rami G. Khouri
The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court’s decision Thursday to dissolve the elected parliament and allow former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik to contest the presidential election this weekend will generate heated debate -- but essentially the decisions strike me as new building blocks in the complex and erratic process that has been underway in Egypt for the past 17 months: the slow, steady reconfiguration and relegitimization of a rotten political system. Despite some turbulence ahead, this is a healthy development, for several reasons. READ MORE
EGYPTIANS MAKING HISTORY
Elijah Zarwan
On Thursday, Egyptian politicians did something astonishing: they reached an agreement. A military ultimatum—agree within 48 hours on a formula for choosing the 100 people who will write the country’s next constitution, or expect a fresh constitutional declaration, the contents of which you may dislike—ended a long impasse. But the outcome sadly reinforces the narrative that only the military can press self-serving civilian politicians to fulfill their duties to the nation. More importantly, the “thirteenth-hour” agreement (the politicians actually missed the deadline) nonetheless throws Egypt’s already contorted transition deeper into confusion and uncertainty.READ MORE
THE MUBARAK CONVICTION: A PROFOUND IF IMPRECISE TURNING POINT
Rami G. Khouri
The conviction and life imprisonment sentences handed down Saturday to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib Adli mark a profound but still imprecise turning point in the single most important battle that has defined the Arab world for the last two generations, and the last 60 years of uninterrupted military rule in Egypt: the contest between whether the Arab people will be ruled by democratically legitimate civilian authorities or by self-imposed and self-perpetuating military rulers. READ MORE
HOW EGYPT’S ISLAMISTS LOST THE FIRST ROUND
Rania Al Malky
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AFTER EGYPT ELECTS A PRESIDENT, WHAT HAPPENS TO SCAF?
Michael Wahid Hanna
Egyptians headed to the polls this week not knowing who will emerge victorious at the ballot box. Gone are the grim certainties that once defined Egyptian political life. But while this first post-revolution presidential election is competitive, it is not fully free and fair.READ MORE
EGYPT'S RETURN TO NATIONAL INTEGRITY
Rami G. Khouri
Many historic things have happened across the Arab world since December 2010, when Mohammad Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Sidi Bouzid town in rural Tunisia sparked the uprisings and home-grown regime changes that continue to define much of the region. To my mind, the single most profound event to date was the Egyptian presidential election that took place last Wednesday and Thursday. READ MORE
EGYPT’S ELECTION AND THE FATE OF THE REVOLUTION
Farah Saafan
Egypt has come a long way since the January 25 revolution. The country that once upon a time quietly anticipated the handover of power from Hosni Mubarak to his son Gamal is now choosing between 13 candidates to become the next president of Egypt. READ MORE
THE EGYPTIAN ELECTION IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS: WHO TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER
Cairo Review
The best coverage of Egypt’s presidential election in 140 characters or less READ MORE
EGYPTIANS AS THEY REALLY ARE
Rami G. Khouri
One of the important byproducts of the ongoing Arab uprisings, regime changes and national reconfigurations is the increased ability of many people around the world to view Arabs in their full, normal, dynamic human complexity and nuance, rather than the one-dimensional, static, essentialist caricatures of Arabs and Muslims that have long dominated many Western views of our region and its people.READ MORE
EGYPT AND ISLAMIC SHARIA: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED
Nathan Brown
Egypt’s post-revolutionary environment—and especially its constitutional process—has touched off debates within the country and confusion outside of it regarding the role of the Islamic sharia in the emerging legal and political order. In a Q&A, Nathan J. Brown explains what the Islamic sharia is—and is not—and how it might be interpreted in Egypt’s new political system. In explaining the complexity of the Islamic sharia, Brown warns that one of the most striking features of the debate is the flexibility of key concepts and positions. Therefore it is far more important to understand who is to be entrusted with interpreting and applying sharia-based rules than it is to search for the precise meaning of the sharia.READ MORE
EGYPT’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: WHAT TO READ
Cairo Review
Our "must-read" list of Egyptian presidential election coverage.READ MORE
THE REVOLUTION WILL BE IMPROVISED
Bissane El-Cheikh
The state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram did the unthinkable for the official Arab press in its 12 February 2011 issue: its huge front-page headline declared: “The People Overthrow the Regime.” The thick red text, above Al-Ahram’s logo of three pyramids, hinted at the symbolism of the moment; Egypt’s most widely read newspaper was not only acknowledging but also wholeheartedly endorsing the people’s decision. READ MORE
CANDIDATES IN THE 2012 EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Thomas Plofchan
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EGYPT’S TRANSITION IMBROGLIO
Nathan Brown
The phrase “Egyptian transition process” has become tragicomically oxymoronic in light of the dizzying series of developments over the past month. More metaphorically, events have driven entire herds of elephants stampeding through every legal and constitutional loophole in Egypt’s makeshift interim political system.READ MORE
IN THE NAME OF GOD
Rania Al Malky
The future of Egypt is on the brink of an Islamist abyss. The Freedom and Justice Party’s tattered poker-faced mask has finally fallen, revealing the bloody fangs of a power hungry vampire, intent on destroying anything that stands between it and its evil, Quran-wielding project to turn Egypt into medieval Afghanistan.READ MORE
ONE YEAR ON IN SYRIA
Rami G. Khouri
The year-long anniversary of the uprising against the Assad regime in Syria this week reveals why such regimes have persisted for so many decades in the Arab world, and also why they are doomed to collapse. We now see more clearly the four trends that have defined Syria since March 2011: the continued expansion, intensity and sophistication of the domestic populist uprising against the regime; the regime’s sustained use of brutal force against the nonviolent demonstrators and the militants who are trying to topple it; the erratic nature and impact of the political opposition abroad; and, the perplexity of the outside world about how to react to the events in the country.READ MORE
THE KINGDOM DIVIDED
Elham Fakhro - Analysis from Sada
The reality for most Saudis is far-removed from the Kingdom’s reputation for extravagance. Official unemployment stands at 10 percent, but unofficial estimates place it as high as 20 percent. The latest official figures reveal that 670,000 families—approximately 3 million out of a total population of 18 million—live in poverty. Nor is hardship restricted to rural areas: a recent documentary on poverty in Riyadh, Maloub Alayna (The Joke’s on Us) recorded testimonies of families living on one meal a day, with as many as twenty people living in the same home. READ MORE
WHY DO THEY DEFY EVEN DEATH?
Rami G. Khouri
What is it that drives ordinary Arab men and women to do extraordinary things, like demonstrate against their government for 12 months non-stop, at the risk of being killed every day? I have heard many explanations for the ongoing Arab uprisings, but one of the best and most succinct explanations I heard at a seminar on Arab youth unemployment this week in Beirut, co-sponsored by the International Labor Organization (ILO) regional office and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany.READ MORE
IS THE GOVERNMENT-CHURCH ALLIANCE A “COPTIC MARRIAGE”?
Avi Asher-Schapiro - Analysis from Sada
The Coptic Orthodox community occupies a paradoxical space in Egypt’s imagination; both Muslim and Christian religious elites insist that the Copts are no mere “minority,” but rather an integral component of the national fabric. Yet many Christians—especially working class and rural Copts—face documented and institutionalized discrimination. Over the last few decades, the church tried to manage these contradictions by monopolizing the community’s political expression within the papacy and its hierarchy—a monopoly made possible through the church’s close bonds with the Mubarak regime and its exhortation of adherents to refrain from dissent. But since Mubarak’s ouster, young Coptic activists have been working to fundamentally change the way the community engages politically. READ MORE
PRESSURES KEEP EXPANDING ON SYRIA
Rami G. Khouri
Three developments in the past few days suggest that the coming weeks could mark a decisive moment in the struggle for power in Syria, and the tug-of-war between pressure to bring down the Bashar Assad regime and the regime’s use of military force to beat the demonstrators into submission. The three critical developments are the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Tunisia last Friday; the appointment of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as the joint UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria; and, a UN report that essentially accuses Syrian senior officials of crimes against humanity, moving closer to international indictments against them.READ MORE
THE DILIGENCE AND HUMILITY OF ANTHONY SHADID
Rami G. Khouri
When special people depart this world for another, as New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid did earlier this week, those of us who are left behind feel like a rowboat bobbing in the rolling waves of a large luxury yacht or ocean liner that has left us in its wake. We are slightly disoriented, momentarily losing our balance and direction, focused only on regaining equilibrium, and later anchorage, in a suddenly turbulent and frightening world. Acids that are only occasionally activated for special assignments go to work in the pit of our stomach. They generate sadness at the passing of his life, fear because we have been alerted to the fragility of our own lives, and also small jolts of confidence and hope -- because his life and death remind us that our world was, and remains, full of gifted people like him. READ MORE
CELEBRATING TWO GREAT INEVITABILITIES
Rami G. Khouri
Well, reviewing events in Syria this week, I guess the uni-polar world, the looming American century, and the end of history that were simultaneously announced by assorted American chauvinists and crackpots at the end of the Cold War around 1990 can be discarded for now. The continuing killings in Syria, and the energized global diplomacy that is trying to wind it down and/or evict President Bashar el-Assad and his family from power, should be seen as two distinct dynamics that converge now for a moment.READ MORE
WHY SCAF MUST GO
Rania Al Malky
The massacre committed in Port Said on Wednesday night when thousands of fans of the home team Al-Masry, which had secured a rare 3-1 victory over Al-Ahly, stormed the pitch and launched a deadly attack on Ahly fans in the bleachers, was no spur-of-the-moment act of mob behavior. It was a carefully premeditated counter-revolutionary plot to sow sedition and set Egyptians against each other to eventually justify the continued presence in power of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).READ MORE
WHO ARE THE NON-ISLAMISTS IN EGYPT’S NEW PARLIAMENT?
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Since the release of the result of parliamentary elections, all of the attention has been on Egypt’s Islamist parties, especially the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafi al-Nour Party, which gained the majority of seats in Egypt’s People’s Assembly. Nevertheless, the presence of non-Islamist, or secular, parties is important in assessing Egypt’s new parliament especially with regards to their potential as a counterweight to the Islamists.READ MORE
SYRIAN SCENARIOS
Rami G. Khouri
Now that the Arab League has decided to ask the UN Security Council to back its plan to resolve the crisis in Syria, the prospects of international involvement in Syria inch forward just a bit more. This adds a new dimension to the already fertile debate on how the mounting violence and expanding political crisis in Syria will end. In the past several months, I have heard dozens of suggested scenarios. Some are plausible, others are fantastic, but all are suggested seriously by usually knowledgeable observers and analysts, and they go something like this.READ MORE
A YEAR ON, HAVE WE LOST THE PLOT?
Rania Al Malky
First there was Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, then came Libya’s bloody war, Syria’s ongoing crimes against humanity, Yemen’s forgotten struggle. And somewhere in between there was and continues to be Egypt’s so-called “revolution.”READ MORE
THE SEVENTY PERCENT
Bassem Sabry
The headline “Islamists win 70% of Egyptian Parliament list seats” was ubiquitous, even though we already knew that result was brewing since November and throughout the elections’ preliminary vote counts. Accompanying the historic headline was a significant frenzy of anger and despair.READ MORE
SYRIA LOOKS MORE LIKE LIBYA EVERY DAY
Rami G. Khouri
The continuing deterioration of the political situation inside Syria last week led the emir of Qatar to suggest that it would be appropriate to send in Arab troops to stop the killing. How seriously he meant this suggestion remains unclear. He may have been offering this as a practical proposal or merely sending a political message that the Arab world could not wait forever as Syrians are killed by the dozen every day.READ MORE
WHEN VICTORY BECOMES AN OPTION: EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CONFRONTS SUCCESS
Nathan Brown
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood stands on the brink of an impressive electoral victory. After several months of suggesting it would check its own electoral ambitions, the Brotherhood plunged into politics with unprecedented enthusiasm, focusing all of its energies and impressive organizational heft on the parliamentary vote. Now, with the electoral list of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, likely to gain close to (and maybe even more than) half the seats and perhaps cabinet positions as well, the movement is entering uncharted waters. READ MORE
THE SCAF: AN OVERVIEW OF ITS ACTIONS
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
On February 10, 2011, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) met for the first time without its chairman, former president Hosni Mubarak. It issued a communiqué indicating that Mubarak was preparing to relinquish his powers to the military after eighteen days of massive antigovernment protests. The SCAF’s first statement signaling the power transition assured the Egyptian public that the council would remain in continuous session in order to ensure the protection of the people and nation, and that it would support the legitimate demands of the protesters who had called for Mubarak’s overthrow.READ MORE
SALAFIS AND SUFIS IN EGYPT
Jonathan Brown
As expected, Egypt’s first parliamentary election after the overthrow of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak confirmed the popularity and organizational strength of the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party, which won 77 of the 156 parliamentary seats contested in the first electoral round. Surprisingly, it also revealed the unexpected strength of the Salafi alliance, dominated by the al-Nour party, which secured 33 seats. Much to the discomfort of secular Egyptians and Western governments, Islamist parties now dominate the Egyptian political scene.READ MORE
THE SPECTER OF “PROTECTED DEMOCRACY” IN EGYPT
Yezid Sayigh
When the Egyptian military ousted President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011, it was greeted by most Egyptians as the savior of the nation, the institution that had sided with the people against dictatorship and would steer the country through a period of transition toward democracy. READ MORE
LANDMINES IN EGYPT’S CONSTITUTIONAL ROADMAP
Nathan Brown
Egypt’s protracted series of parliamentary balloting has just begun, but it is not too soon to think about the implications of presidential elections that have yet to be scheduled. And indeed, the way those elections have been planned (or, more accurately, the way they have not been planned) should cause deep concern.READ MORE
LIBYA’S HARD ROAD TO FREEDOM
Shems Friedlander
Death is at the end of every street. Mohamed Messara whispers this in my ear as he points to a photograph he took in the Libyan desert that bleeds dust and belches hot air as bullets fly, many bullets, as the photo of a rebel fighter in the battle to free the city of Sirte shows. A myriad of empty shells, a carpet thrown over the dust and mud of the road.READ MORE
SYRIA: WARFARE USHERS IN TRANSITION
Rami G. Khouri
The trend of events inside Syria these days is towards a troubling increase in organized military operations by both the government and opposition groups, with breakaway troops from the state armed forces now attacking state institutions. This is both a worrying escalation that can push Syria into destructive domestic strife that could escalate into civil war, and also a more or less routine rite of passage for modern Arab states that ultimately find themselves dealing with the consequences of their own contradictions, incompetence and even some criminality.READ MORE
ARAB MODERATION, WESTERN EXTREMISM
Hassan Yassin
Witnessing the popular and democratic revolutions sweeping across the Middle East, it is ironic to see that the United States and the West are focusing only on the perceived threat of Islamists coming to power democratically. While it is no surprise to us that the West is ready to forego its cherished democratic principles when it comes to Islamists being popularly elected (see Algeria and Palestine), it is all the more disturbing that they do not seem preoccupied about more dangerous extremists gaining influence in their own countries.READ MORE
ARAB EXCEPTIONALISM
Rami G. Khouri
It has been eleven months since the Arab citizen revolts started in Tunisia last December and rolled through the Arab world in a wave that has manifested itself in different ways across the region. The two most striking things about the past eleven months are also slightly contradictory.​READ MORE
OCCUPYING THE FUTURE
Heather Ferguson
As I write, a moment of reckoning tangibly links three seemingly disparate protest sites: Tahrir Square, Los Angeles City Hall, and plazas across the University of California system. The opening moment of elections in Egypt, the closing of the Occupy movement’s last tent encampment by Los Angeles mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, and a UC-wide meeting of the Regents to discuss the shockingly mishandled response to student protests clearly illustrate, in their coincidental proximity to each other, what actors in each of these three contexts have long been self-consciously referencing: a global crisis.READ MORE
WHAT DO EGYPTIANS WANT?
Thomas Plofchan
Heading into their first post-revolution election for parliament, 51 percent of Egyptians had not yet made up their minds on what party to vote for. Yet the race appeared to be dominated by two long-established political groups–the Muslim Brotherhood, represented by its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, and the New Wafd, a liberal party with roots in Egypt’s nationalist movement.READ MORE
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