INSIGHT: Bahrain Uprising – Three Years In, Still No Way Out

Three years after Bahrain joined the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East, human rights defenders are left wondering when the Obama Administration will put action behind its flamboyant 2011 rhetoric about rights, freedom and the rule of law. Those who took to the streets in the small Gulf kingdom on February 14 that More »

INSIGHT: Pluralism Key to Real Change in Arab World

Three years after the start of political upheaval across the region, transitional governments are struggling to maintain popular support amid rising sectarianism, poverty and violent extremism. Of six Arab countries that have experienced revolts since late 2010, only tiny Tunisia and Yemen appear to be making fitful progress toward political pluralism. Libya is plagued by More »

INSIGHT: Year Four of the Arab Awakening

How will history judge the uprisings that started in many parts of the Arab world in 2011? The label “Arab Spring” proved too simplistic from the beginning. Transformational processes defy black-and-white expectations, but in the end, will the awakenings be more reminiscent of what happened in Europe in 1848, when several uprisings took place More »

INSIGHT: Bahrain in Egypt’s Shadow

The popular movement to overthrow the Mubarak government in Egypt in 2011 served as motivation for a political uprising in Bahrain. Now, after two and a half years of political unrest and social polarization, another Egypt-inspired campaign – Bahrain’s “Tamarod” (Rebellion) – has unwittingly facilitated the expansion of security measures that threaten to curtail More »

VOICES: Bahrain – Sectarian Tensions and Foreign Misconceptions

I don’t know a single Bahraini who wouldn’t agree that the Bahraini government is in great need of reform. We need a governing system that is more representative and more responsive. However, it is only a very vocal and militant minority who believe this means that Bahrain needs a revolution – particularly as we More »

VOICES: Bahrain’s Lost Boys

Mahmood has not slept at home in eight months. His younger brother has not slept there in a year. But armed riot police continue to raid their family home monthly, breaking down bedroom doors searching for them. Mahmood and his brother are wanted by the government of Bahrain. They have been charged with various forms More »

INSIGHT: Bahrain – Losing the PR War on Human Rights

Bahrain’s government seems determined to sabotage its own image.  It complains that it’s misunderstood and unfairly criticized, but then continues to make decisions that baffle or enrage its international allies. Foreign criticism of Bahrain’s poor human rights record is increasing. Earlier this week, the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom cited “increased rhetoric from official More »

INSIGHT: Bahrain Tensions, Gridlock Remain After F1 Race

This year’s Formula One race in Bahrain was again accompanied by extensive anti-government rallies around the capital, Manama. Although protesters were kept well away from the race itself, which is held at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, the violence that accompanied the protests, and the accompanying crackdown, highlighted the paucity of political progress More »

INSIGHT: Women in the Workforce in the Arab World

A great debate has been raging over whether the so-called Arab Spring has been good or bad for the women of the region. Some argue that the rise of Islamist governments in places like Egypt and Tunisia has led to a stark reversal of women’s rights. Others believe that the vibrant social and political More »

INSIGHT: An Arab Spring Gone Sour?

Two years into the uprisings that rocked the Middle East, it has become common to see instability, uncertainty, and strife as the direct outcome of the Arab Spring. An Islamist threat against civil liberties appears to be strengthening. Protestors and vigilante groups commit violence amid the paralysis of police and internal security agencies. And More »

INSIGHT: Women’s Security in the Middle East and North Africa

“It is time for an uprising of women in the Arab world,” writes Hanin Ghaddar, managing editor of NOW News in Lebanon in the second annual publication to mark International Women’s Day by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program. Last year, Haleh Esfandiari, the program’s director, asked a diverse group of women from business, More »

‘Harlem Shaking’ It Up Across the Middle East

Just when the Gangnam Style craze began to fizzle, and we thought that the world would be spared another viral dance phenomenon, enter the Harlem Shake.   It began as a 2012 heavy bass instrumental music track produced by Baauer, the stage name of American music producer Harry Rodrigues,  uploaded to YouTube in August 2012.  More »

VOICES: Forced into Hiding in Bahrain But Speaking Out

I’ve been in hiding for the past two years. The Bahraini government imprisoned me from August 2010 to February 2011, and it was obvious I would be rearrested; so I went underground. It’s not easy – I’m married with a 10-year-old son, and the risk of capture is always there – but I carry More »

INSIGHT: The ‘Chicken and Egg’ of Skills, Jobs in the Arab World

A new report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Rethinking Economic Growth: Towards Productive and Inclusive Arab Societies – examines employment issues, the relative lack of dynamic private sectors, broken social contracts, and more in the Arab world. The chapter on education is particularly interesting. The report More »

QUICKTAKE: 3 Things Obama Could Do to Better US Image

With fresh anti-American sentiment growing in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Economist Intelligence Unit expert Robert Powell offers some thoughts on what President Barack Obama could do to counter the trend. Powell spoke with VOA’s Susan Yackee. Yackee: What does President Obama need to do to improve his image in the More »

INSIGHT: Bahrain Dialogue Plan Unlikely to Curb Ongoing Crisis

Remember in May 2011 when U.S. President Barack Obama told the government of Bahrain “you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail?” The people of Bahrain do, but many doubted a real dialogue would be possible. Since President Obama’s call for talks, there has been no real political More »

INSIGHT: Bolstering Education and Science in the Arab World

A decade ago, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) shone a spotlight on the sorry state of education in the Arab world with its inaugural Arab Human Development Report in 2002, and its 2003 follow-on report, “Building a Knowledge Society.” The reports’ statistics still shock: in one year, Spain translates the same number of More »

INSIGHT: Women of the Arab Spring, Beyond Objects and Subjects

The Arab Spring introduced us to the strength and determination of the many Arab women who took to the streets and the Internet to call for change in their governments and societies. Gone were the stereotypes of oppression and passivity. In their place were voices and faces of hope, courage and indomitable spirit, calling More »

INSIGHT: The Arab Spring, Two Years Later

The past week marked the second anniversary of the resignation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, an event that in many ways turned unrest in Tunisia from a purely national affair to what the media dubbed the Arab Spring. That Arab Spring was seen as a broad rising of the Arab masses against aging More »

INSIGHT: US Differences with Bahrain Playing Out in Public

Washington’s relations with Bahrain are under strain after royal comments at a regional strategy conference in the island’s capital. The incident, described by the Associated Press as a “diplomatic flap” and a “public slap against Washington,” reopens the debate about the progress of reforms as street violence continues between Shi’ite protesters and security forces More »