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May 24, 2015

Rami G. Khouri

Is Joint Militarism Really the Answer?

This is the moment to ponder whether excessive reliance on militarism as a response to political and ideological disagreements is in fact the appropriate solution, or actually one of the causes of the problems we face. Read More


Attack ISIS' Drivers to Defeat It

It’s not the war against ISIS that is “long,” it’s rather the conditions of inequity, oppression, imperial reach, state violence, and mass deprivation that have gone on for so long that they have finally erupted in the form of the terrible revenge called ISIS. Read More


Narrow Ethno-nationalism Plagues All in the Middle East

The Middle East continues shifting toward increasingly narrow state identities and government policies that are defined by a combination of narrow ethnicity, increased militarism and religious conservatism. Read More


Vulnerable, Abused Citizens Lead to Unstable States

Arab societies are brittle, volatile, violent and fragmenting in many cases because there is no effective check on the exercise of power by indigenous or external powers, which leaves average Arab citizen totally exposed and helpless. Read More


Grasp This Window to Hold Killers Accountable

A UN report that addresses the actions of Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza war is an opportunity to dare to move towards holding chronic killers accountable. Read More


Threats and Responses in the GCC's New Militancy

Will the GCC’s new militarism respond to the long list of perceived troubling regional threats as well as it already responds to the GCC’s need to safeguard its own national interests? Read More


Our Homemade Weapons of Our Own Mass Destruction

Wildly flashing red lights telling us to stop building one-way highways to hell for tens of millions of our children who are denied the most important opportunity of their lives. Read More


A Question About Policy in Yemen

America’s top officials seem comfortable continuing an approach in Yemen even though in the same breath they acknowledge its dangerous consequences for the Arab world. Read More


Iran Accord Could Spark Momentous Regional Changes

The consummation of a full, multi-decade agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is likely to have monumental consequences across the entire Middle East. Read More


Rare Courage, Respect, Reciprocity Drove Iran Deal

The agreed deal on Iran’s nuclear program that was reached Thursday represents a monumental achievement that affirms the power of reason and diplomacy over the ravages of fear and warfare. Read More


Yemen's War is Debatable, but Probably Historic

Simultaneous adjustments at national, regional and global levels have been taking place across the Middle East region since the end of the Cold War. The Saudi-Yemen situation is important because it captures developments at all three levels. Read More


Four Active Arab Wars Stem from a Common Malaise

Yemen is not really about the legally authorized use of force to ensure a calm Arab future. Rather, it is mainly a testament to the marginalization of the rule of law in many Arab countries in our recent past. Read More


The United States Should Now Respond to the Arab Peace Plan

The Obama administration is doing something that no other American administration has ever dared to do, which is to confront and challenge Israel in public on the core issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Read More


One Arena and Two Players

After a strong victory by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and a consolidation of rightwing sentiments, Israeli-American relations is the critical arena, and the European and Palestinian leaderships are the two pivotal actors to watch. Read More


Four Middle East Cities Today Might Define Our Fate

The fate of this region remains in the hands of its people. How current events in Tikrit, Cairo, Tel Aviv and Tehran play themselves out will shape our fate for generations to come. Read More


Syria Reflects Wider, Older Arab Troubles

The Middle East is likely to endure many years of dislocation and violence until local authorities re-establish order that is based on a more credible social contract among citizens who feel they belong to a state. Read More


Drama Becomes Farce in U.S.-Israeli Ties

Netanyahu just tore up the rulebook, and nobody is quite sure what will happen next in U.S.-Israeli relations. An unsanctioned, thriving Iran that is not a nuclear threat would force a new balance of power in the Middle East. Read More


Another Blow to the Farcical 'Peace Process'

All concerned should be braced for some bad things to happen in the arenas of security, political rhetoric, administration, finances and economy, and physical and psychological well-being of citizenries on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Read More


The Battle Forces Against ISIS Remain Incomplete

If ISIS and other such movements are to be defeated, we need to see tangible signs of change in the way Arab societies are governed. Read More


A Milestone in United States-Israel Relations

The fact that we now see strong, public criticisms of Netanyahu from the belly of the Israel-loving beast that is the U.S. Congress suggests that a significant political and historical marker has been passed. Read More


Sisi's Joint Arab Military Idea is Stunningly Idiotic

The idea of joint Arab action for common security needs is a good one in principle, but given the legacy of Arab military actions at home and abroad, it makes no sense whatsoever, on many counts. Read More


Honesty and Dishonesty in Fighting Violent Extremism

Unusual for American senior officials speaking about the Middle East or Arab-Islamic dynamics, a case of refreshingly accurate, honest and relevant talk from a U.S. president. Read More


Only Fools Confuse Religion with Criminality

Declaring that Islam is at war with itself, or that we witness a battle for the soul and heart of Islam, is vulgar, reductionist and essentialist. Read More


Rep. John Yarmuth Matters and Deserves Our Respect

The American representative will not be attending Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress. It's worth understanding his reasons. Read More


Yemen and the Agony of the Modern Arab Era

While Yemen is a telling lesson in how not to practice stable statehood, it also requires more urgent attention because it poses real and major danger to others in the region and the world. Read More


Jordan Today Reflects Arab Strengths and Weaknesses

Jordan’s dilemma, which is on full display today, is that its strengths are also its weaknesses. Read More


Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt Offer Real Choices

Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt show us the options we face. I honor and choose Tunisia, as I suspect do most of the 360 million Arabs who can speak freely, if they are not in jail and have not had their citizenship revoked. Read More


No Succession Drama, But Plenty of Regional Drama

Regional and foreign policy is the arena where traditional conservative Saudi values and operating methods run up against the challenges of modern geopolitics and aggressive initiatives by many other states and non-state actors. Read More


Israel vs. Hezbollah-Syria-Iran

Because of the tangled dynamics of Hezbollah’s relations inside Lebanon and around the Middle East, the Israeli attack in Syria — an almost routine event in the last few decades, sadly — actually hit three targets in one, namely Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. Read More


Should We Welcome, Fear or Ignore the Quartet?

The Quartet was a good idea that initially aimed to expand the circle of major parties that lent their weight to achieving a negotiated peace. That never happened for several reasons. Read More


Problems in Paris and Khartoum

A bad week in the continuing saga of an Arab world in search for decency, democracy and development, which remain elusive despite the proven thirst for these things across the region. Read More


Insights from the Kouachi Brothers’ Crimes and Lives

The lives, attitudes and actions of the Kouachi brothers reflect many other elements beyond freedom and blasphemy. It is time to get more serious about the real drivers of tension and violence that plague the multinational, transcontinental universe in which the Kouachi brothers lived. Read More


Protests Cause Americans to Take Notice

When normal life and the economy are disrupted briefly, America takes notice. The status quo seems to endanger young black men in the first instance, but many other Americans sense they could be losers also. Read More


Time for Serious Palestinian Leadership

Serious issues of national fate require serious leadership, and Abbas does not fit that bill any longer. Read More


A Moment to Recall the Corrosion that Threatens Egypt

The Al-Jazeera journalists must be freed, but so also must the Egyptian and Arab people be freed from the crippling, deadly grip of military rule. Read More


What to Watch for at the UN Security Council

An important debate will soon take place at the UN Security Council on draft resolutions to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We should pay attention. Read More


How Fares the Global War on Terror?

The more the GWOT continues, the greater seems to be the expansion and impact of the very terror groups it seeks to defeat, with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra being the most recent examples. Read More


The Angels and Devils of Our Last Four Years

We know today about both our angels and our devils, and they will battle for our souls for some years to come. We have become normal countries, in the early years of our painful birth. Read More


Imperial Crimes in the United States and the Middle East

Is the United States the shining republic, or just another banana republic? Is this a moment of pride or shame for Americans? Right now, it seems to be a bit of both, but how it emerges in the longer term remains to be seen. Read More


More Simplistic Nonsense from the United States Government

Until Arab, Western and other foreign rulers accept that their policies were the main underlying reason that allowed ISIS and other such movements to come into being, statements such as John Kerry’s this week will only meet with ridicule and disbelief. Read More


The Universal Horrors of Killing with Impunity

The United States reminds us now that killing with impunity is a terrible crime and a national failure, wherever it happens — Ferguson, New York City, the occupied Palestinian territories or elsewhere. Read More


Egypt is Sad, But Still Hard to Read

The acquittal of former President Hosni Mubarak last weekend marks a symbolic nail in the coffin of the uprising and revolution that overthrew his government in February 2011. It is tempting but reckless to make definitive judgments about the meaning of the extraordinary stages of Egyptian political life since then. Read More


Obama’s Dangerous Embrace of War

Ignoring the US public’s sentiments, presidents continue to use the country’s enormous capabilities to wage war around the world at will — usually create more havoc and generating new dangers that did not exist previously. Read More


Important Lessons from the Iran Negotiations

Decisive yet sensible leadership among those involved in the talks has been able to triumph over extremist ideological positions of domestic foes, and scare tactics of perturbed foreign parties like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Read More


Only Active Citizens Can Save Their Precarious States

The precarious status of half a dozen countries, which run the risk of collapsing or fragmenting into smaller units, is a defining issue of the Arab world today. Read More


Is Jerusalem the Last Battle?

Living in a political vacuum, Palestinians in Jerusalem have only themselves to rely on to defend their lands and rights, and in cases of extreme threats and violence used against them, they resort to violence such as we are witnessing these days. Read More


Impressive Citizenship in Professor Horn’s Class in Boston

Public officials in the United States who seek sensible advise on how to govern should attend a few sessions of Professor Denise Horn’s introductory class on International Affairs and Globalization at Northeastern University in Boston. Read More


President Rivlin’s Important, Intriguing Gesture

One of the few times in recent memory that a senior Israeli official makes a personal gesture that touches the core of Palestinian pain. Read More


Egypt Follows U.S. and Israeli Failed Strategies

When heavy-handed anti-terror actions demean, kill, injure or ruin the lives of civilians, some of these civilians end up joining the militant groups, simply to exact revenge against those who attacked them. Read More


Lessons from the Historic Tunisian Elections

The Tunisian elections were the most significant domestic and national political development in the history of the modern Arab world since its creation a century ago. Read More


The Rule of Law Triumphs — Sort of — in the USA

Punishing a few hired gunmen while ignoring the responsibility of the political leadership of the United States and Great Britain that waged this criminal war in Iraq in the name of their entire nations is a gross abdication of responsibility. Read More


ISIS is the Latest of Many Different Islamisms

ISIS, like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Gamaa Islamiya, non-violent Salafists, militant Salafist-Takfiris, Al-Qaeda and others before it, is a symptom of, and a reaction to, deeper ailments in Middle Eastern society. Read More


Refugees Themselves Can Crack This Tough Nut

An ICG report, “Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question,” is a timely and convincing reminder of why the Palestinian refugees must be central actors in the quest for a negotiated resolution of their conflict with Israel. Read More


New Hare-Brained American Ideas in the Middle East

Why does the United States repeatedly discard the relevance of human nature and history when it unleashes its guns and goes into action around the world? Read More


Three Questions to Ask before Unleashing the Military

If any foreign power asked about the legitimacy, the efficacy, and the consequences of its military involvement in other countries before actually launching such militarism, it might be possible to minimize the negative consequences that we have experienced in the Middle East in recent decades. Read More


How to Assess Fragmenting Arab States

Seven issues gauge the real power and longevity of non-state actors, alongside the dilution of state authority. These seven are Identity, Sovereignty, Territoriality, Service-delivery, Legitimacy, Nationality, and Statehood. Read More


Desperate Netanyahu Sticks to Old Lies

The repeated mistake Netanyahu makes—or perhaps it is a deliberate lie—is to see any movement or rhetoric in the Middle East that references Islamic values as a dangerous threat. Read More


Palestine’s Moral Force Needs Diplomatic Power

Abbas is making decisions on his own without consulting widely among all Palestinians, and he is using the ICC as a threat, when it should be a central component in any Palestinian strategy that seeks to hold Israel accountable to the international rule of law. Read More


Creating or Evading the Gates of Hell?

Three principal developments in and around the Arab world: The combined American-Arab Gulf states air strikes in Syria, the control of the Yemeni capital by Houthi rebels, and the meeting in New York between the Saudi Arabian and Iranian foreign ministers. Read More


Shameful Hamas-Fateh Behavior Must Stop

That Hamas and Fateh do not consummate a unified Palestinian government does not only reflect irresponsibility and incompetence on their part, but in view of the difficult context for Palestinians as a whole it is nothing less than a crime. Read More


The Reluctant Posse

It is not surprising that when the threat becomes really serious, Arab leaders wait for the United States to save their skins. Read More


Polarization and Solidarity Coexist in Arab Societies

Why is it that otherwise rational men and women cannot sit down together and hammer out agreements on fair power-sharing, representation, decision-making, and accountability? Read More


Hard to Be Confident in the Coalition-to-Come

Several troubling aspects of the American-led military plan to defeat the “Islamic State” Read More


We Do Not Need a Rerun of the War on Terror

The GWOT, with its armed invasions, regime changes, drone fleets and other means, has only sustained and even expanded the Al-Qaeda/“Islamic State” phenomenon, because the twin drivers of Arab-Asian autocracy and foreign aggression remain virtually untouched. Read More


Strengths and Weaknesses in the Palestinian Initiative

Abbas is behaving more like a parent who promises his or her children a birthday surprise than a responsible leader who has been handed responsibility for the fate of some eight million Palestinians entering their fourth generation of exile, occupation and refugeehood. Read More


Panic or a Coming of Age in the Gulf?

The UAE air attack in Libya clarifies a major shift underway in the worldviews and self-perceived roles of leading Arab states, who now throw their weight around the Middle East in a direct manner they never did previously. Read More


The Riddle of Citizen Views on Arab Statehood

Citizens will rebel against their central state if they do not feel that their needs are being met equitably, or that they are being mistreated by the government and its military forces. Read More


Israeli Propaganda Starts to Wear Thin

More and more governments and observers around the world have realized that Hamas and Hezbollah have nothing to do with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, rejecting Israeli propaganda. Read More


Iraq Is the New Proving Ground for Arab Statehood

Islamic State-type rule has no more chance of giving Arabs a decent life than did the centralized police state or the corrupt sectarian state that Arabs have endured for decades. Iraq is the place now where this issue will be put to the test. Read More


Zionism vs. Arabism, Not Hamas in Gaza

It is easier for American-Israeli propagandists to highlight Hamas’ militancy rather than to grapple with the fact that all Palestinians — and most of the world, actually — support the demands that Hamas has articulated and that have been negotiated by the all-inclusive Palestinian delegation in Cairo. Read More


Revived PLO Is Now a Top Priority

The most important political action the Palestinians should take now is to rapidly reconstitute the institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), so that Palestinians speak with one voice and benefit from the total backing of the eight million or so Palestinians around the world. Read More


A Ceasefire Would Beckon Real Leaders to Act

If any real leaders and statesmen and women exist out there who can respond to this challenge, now is the time to stand up and act. Read More


From Biblical Wars to Justice for All

This round of attacks by Israelis and Palestinians may prove to be most significant for pushing all concerned to seek a permanent resolution of this conflict, rather than letting it fester in 19th Century colonial mode. Read More


Washington Absurdity, Arab Helplessness

Washington’s quest for a ceasefire in Gaza while wholeheartedly supporting and arming Israel’s onslaught against Palestinian civilians reflects the frightening extent of bankrupt Arab diplomacy and the true nature of the US government siding with Israel. Read More


A Century of Zionist-Palestinian Wars

Exiled and subjugated communities like the Palestinians behave in ways that seem strange to middle class consumers in faraway lands. This can only be understood by appreciating the nature of “resistance” and the allure of “liberation.” Read More


Lessons from the Renewed Attacks in Palestine and Israel

This is the tragedy of what happens when determined warriors and mediocre political leaders on all sides meet in the arena of clashing nationalisms. Read More


Local Sentiments, As Always, Will Shape the Middle East

This eclectic, unpredictable, wildly gyrating human will to survive that treats borders, invading armies and local rulers as just one more threat to resist or one more party with which to make a deal. Read More


Failures Everywhere in Western Asia

Moving decisively to bolster legitimate local forces breeds success; moving gingerly to identify people who will friend you on Facebook is really stupid. Read More


U.S. Actions in Iraq Refute Obama’s Fine Rhetoric

American policies in the Middle East reflect confusion and some dishonesty at three levels, leaving Obama’s sensible rhetoric and analysis largely invalidated by the impact of American actions on the ground. Read More


The Arabs’ 100-Years War

Groups like ISIS have no future in the Middle East, but they will be a major problem for some years to come, until legitimate statehood and efficacious governance take root—which will happen only with the validation of states by their own people. Read More


Facts and Talks Are Better than Threats and Wars

The accusations against Iran, like those against Iraq over a decade ago, are based largely on highly dubious evidence that is exaggerated by a parallel streak of Israeli or neo-conservative American ideological extremism. Read More


The Frightening Thing about ISIS and Iraq

ISIS is frightening, to be sure, but not because it portends our future; it is frightening because it reminds us of the criminal incompetence of ruling Arab regimes during nearly the past half century. Read More


A Painful Guide to Arab Decay...and Rebirth

The situation in Iraq is the most agonizing because it captures the tragic and combined failures of successive regimes that transformed what should have been a showcase of modern Arab development. Read More


The Unserious Yet Durable Arab Electoral Spectacle

Nowhere in the normal world do elections result in victories of such magnitude as the high 80s and 90s percentile that routinely occur in Arab “elections.” Read More


The Palestinian Unity Government Will Shape Its Own Fate

Though Israel’s reaction remains hostile, the international community will judge the new Palestinian national unity government by its policies. Read More


How Obama Can Stop Worrying

The best way for Barack Obama to reduce “the most direct threat to America at home and abroad” is to stop engaging in foreign policy actions that have contributed to creating and nurturing the danger in the first place. Read More


Changed Ties with Iran Will Reconfigure the Middle East

If Iranian-Western and Iranian-Saudi relations shift from confrontation to peaceful coexistence and then active cooperation, they will impact heavily and positively on conditions throughout the Arab region. Read More


The Public Will Decides Egypt’s Fate

The force of the public will—the consent of the governed—will ultimately define the nature of Egyptian public politics and governance, and who leads the government. Read More


A Checklist for Arab Change

One recent short text best captures succinctly the heart of the drivers of the uprisings in the Arab World for over three years. Read More


Arabs, Engage!

It is difficult to predict the outcome of the region’s transformation, but at least one thing is clear: we are witnessing the birth of Arab citizens who express themselves in the public sphere. Read More


The ICC Beckons Palestine-Israel

Seventeen respected international human rights organizations have urged the Palestinian government to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and use it to end a lack of accountability for alleged crimes committed by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read More


To the Judges of Egypt: Why do you do this?

The conduct of the courts and judges in Egypt during the past three years stands out for me as a critical element to watch as the country continues its tortuous route to a pluralistic constitutional democracy. Read More


Vulnerable Palestinians Also Have Opportunities

This moment is an opportunity for the Palestinians on three important fronts: national unity, coordinated political resistance, and mobilizing international support. Read More


Catastrophe Ahead After Peace Talks Collapse

The many consequences of this series of events will take some time to clarify, but they are likely to be destructive. Read More


Israeli Extremism or Zionism’s True Colors?

We will see more people around the world react to the latest extreme Israeli moves in the months ahead. Some people will conclude that Israel is veering off into strange and dangerous ways—others that Zionism’s core is racist. Read More


Why Diplomacy Succeeds and Fails

Patient, serious diplomacy appears to be bearing fruit in many places simultaneously this week, except in the Israel-Palestine talks that have gone on for two decades since the 1993 Oslo peace accords. Read More


Cure Rot by Exposing It to Fresh Air

I applaud the decision to withdraw the honorary degree invitation, because Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s wild and mostly false criticisms of the Islamic faith should not be honored with a degree from a quality university like Brandeis. Read More


Another Hollow Arab 'Reform' Promise"

Despite a few Arab dictators having been toppled or challenged by their own disgruntled citizens, the remaining ones appear not to have learned any lessons, and persist in their cruel ways in one hapless country after another. Read More


Hints for a Workable Negotiating ‘Framework’

I am disappointed that the Palestinians, Israelis and Americans have been unable to get beyond the old, failed approach to diplomacy. Read More


Zionism’s Fanatics Face New Landscapes

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey apparently went for the Buffoon of the Year Award when, after he had accurately referred to the Palestinian West Bank as the “occupied territories"—and later apologized. Read More


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