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August 23, 2014

Middle East


The Riddle of Citizen Views on Arab Statehood
Rami G. Khouri

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


Mubarak’s Last Word
Tarek Osman

The real value of Mubarak's trial lies in the debate it has unleashed among Egyptians—especially young Egyptians—concerning their attitude toward authority.Read More


Israeli Propaganda Starts to Wear Thin
Rami G. Khouri

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


An Alternative to Intifada
Hugh Lovatt

For Palestinians, this is a period of frustration over the status quo, limited political horizons, and the hollowing out of Palestinian democratic institutions. Read More


Iraq Is the New Proving Ground for Arab Statehood
Rami G. Khouri

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


Debating a Kurdish State
Serhun Al

Prospects for an independent Kurdish state are hampered by security challenges, internal competition, and insufficient international support. Read More


Either the U.S. defeats ISIS, or Iran does
Nabeel Khoury

The Obama administration’s current efforts against ISIS are of a tactical nature and will not serve to defeat or dislodge it from the areas it now occupies. Read More


Letter from El-Sahel
Tarek Osman

Since the mid-1990s, El-Sahel’s 250-kilometer strip has become the prime summer destination of Egypt’s upper classes. Read More


Zionism vs. Arabism, Not Hamas in Gaza
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


The Islamists Ahead in Morocco
Maâti Monjib

With the exception of the Islamists, Morocco’s political parties have failed to take advantage of the post-2011 openings in political space. Read More


A Ceasefire Would Beckon Real Leaders to Act
Rami G. Khouri

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


Sisi’s Dilemma
Scott Williamson

As long as Sisi remains heavily dependent on the military and other state institutions, he can neither push too hard against their interests nor count on them to always back his policies. Read More


From Biblical Wars to Justice for All
Rami G. Khouri

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


Legitimizing Crackdown on Dissent in Jordan
David Bishop

Proposed amendments to Jordan’s anti-terror law threaten free expression and may exacerbate the very problem they are hoping to address. Read More


Washington Absurdity, Arab Helplessness
Rami G. Khouri

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


Islamic State in Syria, Back With a Vengeance
Hassan Hassan

The Islamic State is trying to consolidate its presence in Syria and gain territory using new strategies during its latest push. Read More


A Century of Zionist-Palestinian Wars
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


Hamas and Israel at the Brink
Benedetta Berti

A mutual desire to show strength has escalated the conflict, and although neither side wants another war, it may already be too late to pull back. Read More


Local Sentiments, As Always, Will Shape the Middle East
Rami G. Khouri

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


America and Iran Face the Future—in Iraq
Reza Marashi

After eleven years of pursuing zero-sum security strategies in Iraq, both Tehran and Washington are slowly admitting that they have badly overreached. Read More


The Struggle for Iraq’s Future
Rozina Ali

Does the rise of Islamic extremism prove that Iraqi democracy was doomed to fail?Read More


After the Iran Nuclear Deal
Seyed Hossein Mousavian

The P5+1 talks are not just about Tehran’s atomic program. A comprehensive agreement should serve as a model for negotiations on a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. Read More


Concept Pop
Ganzeer

Pop Art is fun. But does it embody meaning? The same question can be asked of higher-brow Concept Art. Some Egyptian artists are taking objects like soda cans and bottle caps and making statements relevant to the masses. It could change everything. Read More


Revolution to Revolution
Nadia Radwan

Artists have spent a century claiming Egypt for the Egyptians. Now the powerful murals of January 25 have created a new public space dedicated to every citizen. Read More


Tehran Bazaar
Joobin Bekhrad

The capital of the Islamic Republic is the new art mecca? When it comes to culture, it’s not your ayatollah’s Iran anymore. Despite continuing pressures including censorship, the country’s art scene is flourishing. Read More


The Art Effect
David Joselit

Art in our age is more than the Mona Lisa. The construction of major new museums like the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar and even an outpost of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi reflects the expansion of a global civil society. Read More


A Street Called Mohammed Mahmoud
Amanda E. Rogers

The walls of Mohammed Mahmoud Street, with their vibrant murals portraying the unflinching gaze of blinded protesters, or the serene smiles of winged martyrs, are witness to the wounds of Egypt’s ongoing revolution. Read More


Theory Y and Egypt’s Bureaucracy
Laila El Baradei

If employees are treated with respect, fairness and equity, they will become committed to the organization. In the real world, it turned out not to be that simple, especially in our Egyptian public service organizations. Read More


Oriental Hall, etc.
Rozina Ali, Anny Gaul

Happenings, speakers, and events at the American University in Cairo.Read More


Failures Everywhere in Western Asia
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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 Rise of ISIS, a Golden Opportunity for Iraq’s Kurds
Sirwan Kajjo

As Iraq’s central government struggles against ISIS, the Kurds quietly take another step towards independence. Read More


The Arabs’ 100-Years War
Rami G. Khouri

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


More Than ISIS, Iraq’s Sunni Insurgency
Hassan Hassan

Maliki’s alienation of Sunni actors is at the heart of ISIS’s success in Iraq. Read More


Facts and Talks Are Better than Threats and Wars
Rami G. Khouri

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


Iran: Syria’s Lone Regional Ally
Karim Sadjadpour

For Tehran, the Syrian conflict is at the center of an ideological, sectarian, and geopolitical struggle against a diverse array of adversaries. Read More


The Frightening Thing about ISIS and Iraq
Rami G. Khouri

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


Jordan’s Ambiguous Syria Policy
Marwan Muasher

Amman is increasingly pursuing a policy of supporting neither the regime nor the opposition in Syria while quietly working to help resolve the conflict. It has few other options. Read More


ISIS and the Anbar Crisis
Raed El-Hamed

Despite recent success in Mosul, ISIS is still trying to solidify its fragile gains in Anbar province, particularly following heavy losses in Syria. Read More


A Painful Guide to Arab Decay...and Rebirth
Rami G. Khouri

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


How Nouri Al-Maliki’s Policies are Dooming Iraq
Nabeel Khoury

After three years of bashing Sunni opponents and lending assistance to Iran and Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s chickens have now come home to roost. Read More


Syria’s Very Local Regional Conflict
Yezid Sayigh

The highly localized nature of the Syrian conflict means that its evolution and eventual resolution will elude the control of outsiders. Read More


Bahrain Between its Backers and the Brotherhood
Ibrahim Hatlani

The recent efforts to label the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization puts Bahrain’s leadership at odds with its domestic ally against the Shia opposition. Read More


The Unserious Yet Durable Arab Electoral Spectacle
Rami G. Khouri

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


Islamist-Secularist Divisions in Morocco
Mohammed Masbah

Recent cases of violence at Moroccan universities expose the depth of the rift between Islamists and leftists, a rift that strengthens the regime’s hand. Read More


Eight Points about Egypt’s Presidential Election
Laila El Baradei

We need to act more prudently in responding to criticisms and observations about the election process and the democratic environment in Egypt at large. As a nation striving towards a greater degree of democracy, we should respect differences in opinion. Read More


The Palestinian Unity Government Will Shape Its Own Fate
Rami G. Khouri

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


Securing the Syrian Regime
Kheder Khaddour

The Syrian regime’s institutionalization of local militias bolsters their loyalty and ensures the regime’s hold on the militias’ communities. Read More


How Obama Can Stop Worrying
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


Egypt’s War on Terrorism
Zack Gold

Even as the United States works with Egypt to counter violent threats in Sinai, relations will remain tense because of Egypt’s insistence that political dissent be considered terrorism. Read More


The Public Will Decides Egypt’s Fate
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


The ICC Beckons Palestine-Israel
Rami G. Khouri

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


The Nour Party’s Precarious Future
Abdel-Rahman Youssef, Mostafa Hashem

Egypt’s Salafi Nour Party is looking to replace the Muslim Brotherhood as the leading Islamist political force, all the while trying to weather the backlash against Islamists. Read More


To the Judges of Egypt: Why do you do this?
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


Yemen’s Fraught Constitution Drafting Committee
Ashraf Al-Falahi

Though working on the premise of federalism, Yemen’s Constitution Drafting Committee is only reinforcing central presidential control. Read More


Catastrophe Ahead After Peace Talks Collapse
Rami G. Khouri

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


Texts: Tunisia’s Political Transition
Rozina Ali

In Tunisia, where the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2010, the National Constituent Assembly voted 200 to 12 with four abstentions on January 26, 2014, to approve a new constitution. The full text of the document. Read More


Trouble in Western Sahara
Tom Stevenson

Investigating the myths surrounding the struggle over the Western Sahara Read More


The Tunisian Experience
Rachid Ghannouchi

The leader of the Ennahda Movement, hailing the adoption of a new constitution in January, explains why Islam and democracy are compatible. Read More


A New Palestinian Strategy
Daoud Kuttab

Neither armed struggle nor negotiations have achieved justice and independence. The failure of the latest American mediation effort may give further impetus to another means: civil resistance. Read More


Egyptian Dreams
Tarek Osman

The 2013 uprising against Muslim Brotherhood rule signaled a resounding defeat for political Islam and victory for the entrenched pillars of the republic. Yet, if the socioeconomic demands of the people remain unmet, protesters will fill the streets again. Read More


A Disconnected Middle East
James Manyika, Susan Lund

New research by the McKinsey Global Institute shows that the Middle East/North Africa region is falling behind in global flows of goods, services, people, finance and data. To reverse the trend, follow the example of Morocco and Dubai. Read More


The Call of Pluralism
Marwan Muasher

Defeating despotism is only one goal of the Second Arab Awakening. The region must also embrace political, cultural, and religious pluralism, good governance, the rule of law, and inclusive economic growth. Read More


Arabs, Engage!
Rami G. Khouri

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


Why Syria Matters
Nader Hashemi

Some 150,000 people have died in the revolt against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Military, political and humanitarian intervention is needed to end the atrocities and prevent further destabilization in the Middle East. Read More


Age of Darkness
Cairo Review

Ali Ahmad Said Esber, known by his pen name Adonis, is widely acclaimed as the greatest living Arab poet. From exile in France, he speaks with Scott MacLeod and Jonathan Randal about the destruction of his native Syria and the decline of the Arab world. Read More


The Government and the Ostrich
Laila El Baradei

Rather than working on clearly identifying and recognizing problems, many Egyptians seem to prefer a different approach based on denial, and pointing fingers at others. This reminds us of the proverbial tale of the ostrich burying its head in the sand. Read More


Desert Flowering
Rozina Ali, Fernanda Uro Aboites

Saudi Arabia made its first-ever submission of a film for an Oscar at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood. Wadjda, which was submitted in the Best Foreign Film category, failed to earn a nomination, but it made history as the first feature movie to be filmed entirely in the country. Read More


Tahrir Tech
Deena Refai

Over the past three years, Tahrir Square has become a symbol of revolt, the scene of countless political protests and, too often, violence and bloodshed. If a bold new vision succeeds, the neighborhood around the square will soon be buzzing with innovators and entrepreneurs, a symbol of Egyptian economic progress. Read More


Oriental Hall, etc.
Rozina Ali

Happenings, speakers, and events at the American University in Cairo. Read More


An Egyptian in Space
Aaron T. Rose

Omar Samra is reaching for the moon. He was the first Egyptian to ascend to the summit of Mount Everest. He was also the first of his countrymen to climb the highest peaks on the other six continents. Soon, he plans to go even higher. In 2015, Samra is set to become the first Egyptian in space. Read More


A Resurgence of Tunisia’s Counterrevolutionaries?
Omar Belhaj Salah

Despite curbing polarization and driving the country out of political impasse, negotiations between political elites raised Tunisians’ fears of a regression of the revolutionary tide. Read More


Israeli Extremism or Zionism’s True Colors?
Rami G. Khouri

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


The IMF in Egypt, Act Two
Max Reibman

Despite the challenges of long-term dependence on GCC benefactors, their aid gives Egypt a chance to reengage with the IMF and other international creditors. Read More


Why Diplomacy Succeeds and Fails
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


The Undecided in Egypt’s Presidential Election
Magued Osman

We asked 2,034 respondents, “If the presidential elections were tomorrow, for whom would you vote?” Thirty-nine percent named former army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as their preferred candidate. Read More


Another Hollow Arab 'Reform' Promise"
Rami G. Khouri

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


What Will a Sisi Presidency Bring for Egypt?
Sada Debates

Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El-Sisi formally declared his intention to run for president of Egypt on March 26 and is widely expected to win. Yet his administration will have to confront a range of delicate issues within a deeply divided political climate. Read More


Hints for a Workable Negotiating ‘Framework’
Rami G. Khouri

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


Egypt’s Wiretapping Scandal
Mohamed Abdel Salam

Egypt’s reaction to the domestic wiretapping of activists and politicians does not bode well for the future of citizens’ rights and the rule of law. Read More


Turkey’s Democratic Future in Suspense
Kerem Öktem

Turkey's local elections were hotly contested, taking place amid a controversial official ban on YouTube and Twitter. What was it that made these elections somewhat less local than usual? Read More


Exclusive Q&A: Kerry's Mideast Policies
Cairo Review

Ambassador Thomas Shannon is described by colleagues as a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s inner circle. He calls himself a “utility infielder” on Kerry’s team, and last week he was in Cairo talking with Egyptian officials about economic issues. He is currently counselor of the State Department. Cairo Review Managing Editor Scott MacLeod interviewed Shannon in Cairo on April 3, 2014. Read More


America's Jewish Mainstream Goes Rogue
Matthew Berkman

An increasingly panicked and isolated right-wing donor base is waging a scorched earth campaign against the very foundations of contemporary American Zionism. Read More


Tunisia Polices Cyberspace
Karina Piser

Despite the ouster of Ben Ali, Internet freedom remains limited in Tunisia, stifled by inefficient institutions and insufficient political will. The widely praised constitution, which lacks provisions specifically protecting personal data, does little to mitigate these risks. Read More


Fueling Egypt’s Economy
Max Reibman

The short-term woes of Egypt’s oil and gas industry will continue until underlying structural issues are addressed, regardless of changes in broader political instability. Read More


Mass Death Sentences in Egypt Highlight Need for Judicial Reform
Sahar Aziz

An Egyptian judge issued a death sentence for 529 defendants without a proper trial on March 24. The judiciary’s legitimacy was the 530th casualty. Read More


Please Spare Us the Gamal Abdel Nasser Imagery
Rami G. Khouri

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


Letter from Iraq
Nabeel Khoury

In late February, the U.S. State Department protested a $195 million Iran-Iraq arms deal. In a recent trip to Baghdad, that small arms deal with Iran seemed like a small matter indeed to most. Read More


The Media’s Effects on BDS
Adam E. Gallagher

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement (BDS) has been increasingly presented in the media as a legitimate social movement aimed at securing rights for Palestinians in Israel, "under occupation," and in the diaspora. Read More


Palestinian Refugees and the Siege of Yarmouk
Natasha Hall

The siege of Yarmouk, which started in July 2013, changed the dynamics of the Syrian conflict. Not only has it discredited the Assad regime as a champion of the Palestinian struggle but also Palestinians’ own leadership. Read More


The Double Agony of Syria As Arab Mirror
Rami G. Khouri

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


The Dangers of Alienating Egypt’s Youth
Mustafa Hashem

Egyptian youth are growing more disillusioned following the government’s crackdown on opposition demonstrations and jailing a number of secularist and Islamist opponents. Read More


The Shame of Ailing Old Arabs Who Cling to Power
Rami G. Khouri

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


Egypt’s Economy and the Fall of the Beblawi Government
Mohammed Samhouri

The unexpected resignation of the entire interim cabinet of Egypt on February 24 should serve as a reminder of just how acute and intricate the economic crisis is that faces the country since Mubarak's ouster three years ago. Read More


The Unparalleled Magic of City and Stage
Rami G. Khouri

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


Questions for Egypt's Next Vote
Magued Osman

I do not normally engage in hypotheticals. But questions of “what if?” open the door to self-examination, to lessons learned from experience. It is on this basis that I want to ask “what if?” to evaluate the Egyptian constitutional referendum, which passed in January. Read More


What Are the Motives and Meanings of a Jewish State?
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


Lebanon’s Precarious New Government
Mario Abou Zeid

Tensions stemming from the ongoing Syrian conflict and Hezbollah’s continued military participation in it could lead to the government’s failure. Read More


The Core Issues for Israelis and Palestinians
Rami G. Khouri

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


An Interview with Moroccan Journalist Ali Anouzla
Maâti Monjib

“Fifteen years of Mohammed VI’s rule has proven that there is no political will to liberalize the public media or guarantee independent journalism.” Read More


How's Gaza?
Julia C. Hurley

Having recently returned from spending a year in Gaza working with the UN, one would think I’d have an easy answer. Gaza is a daily struggle and a constant feeling of being on the edge of conflict. Read More


Why the Salafist-Takfiris Should Worry Us
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


Assessing the Syria Talks in Geneva
Amr Al-Azm

After a round of talks between the regime and the opposition, little has been resolved. The Al-Assad regime has no incentive to enter these negotiations with any seriousness; the opposition has no meaningful or effective leverage to convince the key actors to bring significant pressure to bear on the regime. Read More


Historic Framework or Reheated Old Coffee Dregs?
Rami G. Khouri

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


Tunisia’s Kitchen Sink Constitution
Karina Piser

On January 26, 2014, the Tunisian constitution passed with 200 out of 216 votes. Continued disagreement over Islam’s social and political role, however, is the new constitution’s blueprint. Read More


Nile View: Managing Egypt
Laila El Baradei

Since the January 25 Revolution three years ago, we have witnessed five changes of government, yet citizens are still complaining about government performance in general. What is it that other nations do, and do well, that Egyptians can learn from? Read More


Oriental Hall, etc.
Rozina Ali, Deena Refai

Happenings, speakers, and events at the American University in Cairo. Read More


Comic Relief
Jonathan Guyer

In the tumultuous three years since the Tahrir Square uprising, a number of young Egyptian cartoonists have persevered to defend a crack of space for free expression and dissent. Read More


Wisdom Amid Chicanery
Rami G. Khouri

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


How to Curate a Revolution Museum
Jonathan Guyer

The Arab American National Museum is hosting an exhibition on art and protest in the Arab world, "Creative Dissent: Arts of the Arab World Uprisings." Scholars Christine Gruber and Nama Khalil have curated a powerful array of snapshots from Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. Read More


Why is the Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Eroding?
Benedetta Berti, Zack Gold

Each side’s strategy to preserve deterrence threatens the uneasy equilibrium, creating a permanent security dilemma. Read More


Hollywood and Real Life
Rami G. Khouri

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


In Egypt, Autocracy Gains Ground
Reem Saad

Many Egyptians danced with joy at the constitutional referendum, which made for a pretty diversion. But electoral integrity and freedom cannot be measured by a few dances in front of polling stations. Read More


President Sisi Rides Precarious Passions into Office
Rami G. Khouri

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


Tunisia’s Compromise Constitution
Sarah Mersch

Tunisia’s struggle to agree on a constitution that satisfies both the conservative-liberal majority and the liberal opposition is giving way to consensus in many critical aspects of the new constitution. Read More


The Graffiti Speaks Eloquently
Rami G. Khouri

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


When Ambiguity is Destructive
Khaled Elgindy

In Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, “constructive ambiguity” has succeeded only in producing confusion and eroding trust between the parties. If U.S. officials hope to salvage what prospects remain for a two-state solution, they should be prepared to paint a clear picture of the endgame. Read More


Vengeful Justice in Egypt
Mohamed El-Shewy

Based on statements from the Ministry of Transitional Justice and Reconciliation, the current government’s approach to transitional justice will likely be highly skewed, exclusionary, and directed at one faction. Read More


The Larger National Tragedy of Ariel Sharon
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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
Rami G. Khouri

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


An Anticlimactic Referendum in Egypt
Nathan Brown

The approval of the constitutional referendum is a foregone conclusion, and the result is likely to resolve little. Indeed, the constitution and the referendum are more likely to exacerbate tensions and divisions in Egyptian politics than to form part of a democratic transition. Read More


Four Trends to Watch in the Year Ahead
Rami G. Khouri

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


Maliki's Troubles
Fadel Al-Kifaee

As Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki prepares to make a third run in the Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections, daunting challenges appear ahead. More than ever, Maliki stands as a dividing figure in Iraqi politics—his opponents are numerous and diverse, but the strongest opposition, political and religious, comes from within his Shia community. Read More


The Railroad Crossing Mentality
Magued Osman

A railroad crossing is not simply a place, but a mentality that has permeated into the Egyptian national psyche. This mentality has a number of components that not only explain train wrecks, but also illustrate a common denominator in the way in which we confront issues of national importance. Read More


Which Iran Will We Choose?
Trita Parsi , Bijan Khajehpour, Reza Marashi

We have a golden opportunity to test win-win proposals through concrete actions that can facilitate a new, cooperative relationship with Iran and its people, void of the painful baggage of the past. Read More


Transitional Justice Elusive in Egypt
Yussef Auf

Only under a system of accountability, efficiency, and equality will Egypt be able to move forward with its transition. But the demands for transitional justice have consistently been framed in very broad terms, without a clear detailed vision of how they would be applied in Egypt’s specific situation.Read More


Year Four of the Arab Awakening
Marwan Muasher

How will history judge the uprisings that started in many parts of the Arab world in 2011? Read More


The Risings Three Years On
Rami G. Khouri

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


Is John Kerry Serious?
Rami G. Khouri

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


Rapid Population Growth Imperils Egypt
Magued Osman

If fertility rates are high, Egypt's population will break 100 million by 2025, and reach 140 million by the year 2050— a scenario that can be described as the "national suicide." Read More


Algiers and Rabat, Storm or Spat
Jacques Roussellier

The UN Mission in Western Sahara is halfway through its extended mandate, which stands to be renewed again in UN Security Council discussions in April 2014. Meanwhile, Algerian diplomatic efforts have successfully cornered Rabat on the thorny issue of human rights. Read More


To Push Back Mideast Gloom
Rami G. Khouri

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


Women: One Tenth of Society
Magued Osman

In the wake of the January 25 revolution, the Egyptian political scene has undoubtedly been exclusionary to Egyptian women. The biggest surprise has been the continuation of this stance under the secular current's guidance. Read More


Egypt’s Draft Constitution Rewards the Military and Judiciary
Nathan Brown, Michele Dunne

The draft constitution submitted to Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, on December 2 settles a few important matters—it enhances the status of the state institutions that banded together against the Muslim Brotherhood, including the military, judiciary, and police. But it leaves other equally important questions unanswered. The sequencing, system, and timing for presidential and parliamentary elections remain unclear, for example, issues that are particularly fraught because Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who removed Mohammed Morsi from power in July, might run for president.Read More


Losing Syria’s Economic Future
Mona Alami

The Syrian conflict is destroying the economy and creating a long term economic crisis for Syria that will make a lasting peace in the future even more difficult. Read More


Old Men’s Guns vs. Civil Rights
Rami G. Khouri

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


Cairo: Megacity Without a Mayor
Cairo Review

Mohamed Elshahed founded Cairobserver, Egypt’s first architecture and urbanism website. He speaks with Senior Editor Jonathan Guyer about the city's grit: which historic areas are at risk, what residents say about their own neighborhoods, and how the government reacts to endemic problems. Read More


Best of Cairobserver
Cairo Review

Cairobserver is a webzine that leads a conversation about the Egyptian capital. It tells the stories of Cairo’s buildings and builders, residents and municipalities. As part of our Fall 2013 Special Report on the Future of the City, the Cairo Review curates some of the perceptive posts from CairObserver. 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


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


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


Keeping Hope Alive
Laila El Baradei

At present, what is of major concern to the Egyptian citizen is a need to realize the January 25 demands for better quality of life, freedom, human dignity and social justice. Read More


What Arabs Think
Rami G. Khouri

The Writing of a new Middle East narrative.Read More


A Garden in Cairo
Maher Stino

Once the site of a garbage dump, Al-Azhar Park is a verdant haven in the heart of one of the world’s most densely populated cities. The development project, led by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, achieved a grand urban vision for revitalizing center-city neighborhoods, restoring Islamic historical sites and reviving ancient crafts. Read More


The Arab Housing Paradox
David Sims

From Cairo to Casablanca and beyond, millions of Arabs live in munatiq ‘ashwa’ia, or random areas. Informal developments continue to expand in response to state failure and incapacity. Arab governments should stop focusing on hyper-modern schemes and start empowering the poor for the creation of formal, legal neighborhoods with affordable housing. Read More


Damage Control
Rozina Ali

A political prisoner freed. An affidavit documenting police abuse. An audience with lawmakers. When Egyptians rose up in 2011, human rights campaigner Heba Morayef dared to hope that such incremental accomplishments were giving way to freedom and democracy. But the dream didn’t last for long. 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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