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April 25, 2014

Rami G. Khouri

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

Please Spare Us the Gamal Abdel Nasser Imagery

This week’s announcement by ex-Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Sisi that he will run for the presidency of Egypt was fully expected since the massive, sustained cult-like hero worship campaign for him first materialized last June. Read More

The Double Agony of Syria As Arab Mirror

Syria encapsulates all of the ailments and distortions that have shattered the modern Arab world. Read More

The Shame of Ailing Old Arabs Who Cling to Power

Is there no limit to the assault on the basic rights and fundamental humanity of Arab citizens? The latest insult to common human decency and the struggle of hundreds of millions of Arabs for democratic and accountable governance emanates these days from Algeria, where Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced earlier this week that he is running for his fourth consecutive term as president. Read More

The Unparalleled Magic of City and Stage

I attended the excerpted readings of the first English translation of the late Syrian writer Saadallah Wannous’ play 'Rituals of Signs and Transformations.' Not an earth-shaking event, but I was struck by the tremendous power that cultural performances can have in creating appreciation and respect among Americans and Arabs who otherwise spend much time mocking, abusing and killing each other. Read More

What Are the Motives and Meanings of a Jewish State?

The Jewish state concept is not defined, it does not take account of the Palestinian Arab and other non-Jewish Israelis, it does not address the implications of such recognition for the UN-acknowledged rights of the Palestinian refugees, and it does not have any basis in prevailing international law or diplomatic norms related to how states recognize each other. Read More

Palestinians Can Rectify Negotiating Weaknesses

Striking in this whole process is the almost total absence of initiatives by the Palestinian leadership, and the necessary mobilization of the three critical support communities that can help advance the Palestinian diplomatic position. Read More

The Core Issues for Israelis and Palestinians

With perhaps just weeks to go before the United States unveils its framework accord that it hopes will prod Palestinians and Israelis towards a comprehensive negotiated resolution of their conflict, it seems that every dimension of this conflict is generating new ideas, trial balloons, or fresh pressures on both sides, as the moment of truth for both sides approaches. Read More

Why the Salafist-Takfiris Should Worry Us

These groups did not just suddenly appear in the past three years of the war in Syria; rather, they have been incubating slowly for a much longer period of time because of the slow deterioration in conditions in various Arab countries during the past quarter century or so. Read More

Salute Tunisia and Emulate It

Tunisia was the first Arab country ever to draft its own constitution, which came into force in 1861, and fittingly it is now the first Arab country to draw up a really meaningful and legitimate constitution after a popular revolution that removed a long-serving autocratic government. Read More

Historic Framework or Reheated Old Coffee Dregs?

The widespread anticipation among what seems like just 27 people in the United States who follow the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations is that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will soon table a set of American positions or proposals for the key elements of a “framework agreement” that would define the next phase of the permanent status talks and extend them beyond the April deadline. Read More

Wisdom Amid Chicanery

The American people must decide if they will ever hold accountable in a court of law those senior American officials who offered lies, deceit and wasteful war to their traumatized people in 2001-2003. Read More

Hollywood and Real Life

If you think the controversy of actress Scarlett Johansson’s relationships with Oxfam and the Israeli company Sodastream is a minor side story about Hollywood celebrities, think again. Read More

President Sisi Rides Precarious Passions into Office

It is fitting that Egyptian armed forces commander Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Sisi has decided to assume the presidency of his country, because two of the three main problems that Egypt faces are a consequence of his own decisions during the past year. Read More

The Graffiti Speaks Eloquently

The most fascinating thing I saw in Cairo was the range of graffiti scrawled across walls, advertising billboards, street signs, flower pots, park benches and any other surface that allowed Egyptians to express their political sentiments. Read More

The Larger National Tragedy of Ariel Sharon

The wildly divergent appraisals of the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are as passionate and contradictory as he was in life. Read More

Al-Qaeda Has No Future in the Arab World

Many people in the Middle East and abroad are rightly concerned about the rise and impact of hardline Salafist-takfiri fundamentalist Islamist groups that have recently proliferated and controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. Read More

Lebanon’s $3 Billion Question

What should we make of the sudden announcement earlier this week that Saudi Arabia was providing the Lebanese armed forces with $3 billion to upgrade its capabilities? Read More

Four Trends to Watch in the Year Ahead

The longevity and lasting impact of current changes and turbulence across the Middle East are hard to define today. This is because some developments are dramatic and very consequential in the short run—like Islamists winning free elections or Salafist-takfiris controlling areas in Syria—but may not have lasting impact in a year or two. Read More

Is John Kerry Serious?

We seem to have entered that inevitable moment when the United States would stop trying to be a low-key and totally ineffective mediator between Israelis and Palestinians, and instead play a more decisive role by offering its own proposals on a permanent peace agreement. Read More

The Risings Three Years On

When the fruit and vegetables peddler Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in the rural Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on December 17, 2010, his spontaneous act comprised a combination of protest, self-assertion and defiance that resonated instantly and widely across the entire Arab world. Read More

To Push Back Mideast Gloom

There are so many troubling signs of dysfunctional political life in the Arab world that it is refreshing to note three simultaneous developments this week that give us more hope for a stable, normal future. Read More

Old Men’s Guns vs. Civil Rights

We will know in the coming months whether the current “second chance” roadmap to constitutional reform in Egypt achieves that transition to democratic legitimacy that was mismanaged in the two years after the overthrow of the Hosni Mubarak regime. Read More

What Arabs Think

The Writing of a new Middle East narrative. Read More

Is U.S. Policy in Syria Changing?

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

The Generals Rule Egypt Again

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

Clear Options for the Middle East

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

Egypt's Choice: Constitutionalism or Imbecility

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

Big Issues Revolve Around Tehran

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

Remembering Bill Stelpflug

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

Seven Lessons to Learn in Syria

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

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

A Hard Process towards Common Values Democracy

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

Two Issues at Stake in Syria

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

The Agony of the Smashing of Syria

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

When Political Clods Collide

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

Knowledge Triumphs over the Knuckleheads

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

Al-Qaeda's Criminals and the Rest of Us

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

The Washington Jerkocracy Strikes Again

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

What Do We Learn from 45 Years of Negotiations?

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

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

Spare Us the Intellectual Disneylands

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

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

Popular Legitimacy Asserts Itself in Egypt

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

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

Apocalyptic Words from Men in Hiding

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

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

Jordan and Turkey Mirror the Citizen-State Challenge

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

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

The New and the Ordinary in the Middle East

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

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

China Addresses the Middle East

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 Real Scare in Syria Is Not Chemical Weapons

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

Drop the Failed Approaches and Try New Ideas

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

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

Kuwait's Historic Civil Disobedience

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

Syria Is Complicated -- Simultaneous Conflicts Always Are

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

Painfully Following Iran in the U.S. Media

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

America and the Middle East – II

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

America and the Middle East – I

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

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

The Diplomatic Serial Failures

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

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

Arabs Seek Citizenship and Statehood

Beneath the surface reality of turbulence that occasionally reaches violence or stalemate is a much more complex, time-consuming and hopeful trend. Read More

Remaking Arab Civil Society

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 Gangland Policies of Certain 'Exceptional' Nations

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

Two Years On: Tunisia’s Social Pact

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

Jordan at a Crossroads

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

Arab World Lessons from 2012

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

Critical Lessons from Egypt's Constitutional Referendum

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

The Second Anniversary of the Arab Uprisings

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

Amateurs Take Over in Egypt

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

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

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

What's New in the Gaza-Israel Battle

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

There Will Be No Civil War in Lebanon

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

New Arab Realities

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 Arab World's Most Important Battle

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 Military's Two Big Mistakes

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

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

The Mubarak Conviction: A Profound If Imprecise Turning Point

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

Egypt's Return to National Integrity

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

Egyptians As They Really Are

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

One Year On in Syria

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

Why Do They Defy Even Death?

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

Pressures Keep Expanding on Syria

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

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

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

Syrian Scenarios

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

Syria Looks More Like Libya Every Day

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

Syria: Warfare Ushers in Transition

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 Exceptionalism

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

Region in Revolt

Veteran analyst Rami G. Khouri predicts that the historic change sweeping the Arab world will lead to a secular rather than Islamist political order Read More

American Media Bias

I was in the United States 16 months ago when an Egyptian national popular uprising forced Hosni Mubarak to quit his presidency, and I was in the United States again this week when Mohammed Morsi was elected as the new Egyptian president. Then and now, Americans remain unsure about how to react to the popular revolutions that felled their long-time autocratic Arab allies, who in most cases were replaced by more legitimate, Islamist-led governments. Read More

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