INSIGHT: Beirut Bombings Point to New Escalation

Earlier this week, double explosions near the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed at least 23 people, including an Iranian diplomat. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an Islamist group with links to al-Qaida, took responsibility for the attack. This is not the first event of its kind. There was a car bomb attack in the southern mainly-Shi’ite More »

INSIGHT: Youth Unemployment in Middle East, North Africa

As the graph below makes painfully clear, the Middle East and North Africa face significant challenges when it comes to youth unemployment. A World Economic Forum report from 2012 notes, “Unemployment in the MENA region is the highest in the world…and largely a youth phenomenon.” I’ve previously highlighted troubling trends in youth employment, including the 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: 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 »

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 »

INSIGHT: Hezbollah’s Syria Problem

Late last month, Israeli military planes carried out a strike on the outskirts of Damascus, targeting a convoy transporting anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah. The strike was the latest indication that Lebanon’s Party of God is not only directly involved in the violence in Syria, but will leverage the chaos there to bolster its 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: The Disintegration of the Levant

One hundred years after the Levant embarked on a journey to build modern political societies, our experiment has failed and we are now back to square one.  Lebanon collapsed in the 1970s, Iraq disintegrated in the 1990s and 2000s, and Syria is in the process of tearing itself apart. Unlike Egypt, Tunisia, and several More »

INSIGHT: Arab Economies in Transition – Limited Room for Optimism

As citizens across the Arab world call for better living conditions and greater personal freedoms, many countries have witnessed protests and revolutions. The year 2012 offered a clear example of how political transformations have impacted regional economies. Five Arab countries – Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon – are experiencing transitions. However, their current economic More »

INSIGHT: Syria’s Instability Reaches Lebanon

Recent fighting in Lebanon between pro- and anti-Assad forces raises the specter that spillover from Syria will engulf its neighbor. With Washington focused on the crises in Syria and Egypt, perennially-on-the-brink Lebanon is a second-tier concern for now, but it will not remain so if Islamist militants gain the upper hand politically or, worse, More »

INSIGHT: The Middle East Distraction That’s Obscuring Asia

Asia specialists will not openly admit it, but they hate the Middle East. To them, the Middle East is the great distraction that keeps people from focusing on what’s really important – their own area in the Western Pacific. The media are primarily to blame, according to this narrative. The media love sudden drama, even More »

INSIGHT: US Middle East Policy – Caution and Partial Retreat?

The conventional wisdom is that American presidents who win a second term are less bound by domestic electoral considerations that may impose constraints on their foreign policy. But in his second term, President Barack Obama is unlikely to take any bold initiatives in the Middle East. Indeed, he is far more likely not only More »

WATCH: Lebanese Children Learn Abbreviated National History

Lebanon’s many different sects have their own history, which makes formulating a unified national history challenging. The 1989 Taif Accord, which ended the 15-year Lebanese civil war, called for civic education to be uniform across the country in order to promote national unity. But as Paige Kollock reports for VOA, the goal remains More »

INSIGHT: Obama’s Win – What It Means for the Middle East

With President Barack Obama’s re-election, many people across the Middle East are contemplating what this region might expect from his second term. Over the next four years, Obama will likely continue the policy directions set in his first term: by completing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, for example, and reaching out to global players like More »

Images of the Week: October 27 – November 2

The week began with the collapse of the cease-fire in Syria and many more reported deaths. The U.S. calls for stronger leadership in the Syrian opposition. With the docking of Iranian military ships in Sudan, analysts scrutinize their relationship. Despite new laws banning demonstrations, protestors take to the streets of Bahrain.  A series of More »

Images of the Week: October 20 – October 26

Protests, then calm began the week in Lebanon with the funeral of Wissam al Hassan. The last of the debates between the U.S. presidential candidates focused on the Middle East, with an emphasis on Iran. An estimated three million pilgrims made their Hajj to Mecca this week. Israel and Hamas traded firepower before settling into More »

INSIGHT: Malala Yousafzai and the Role of Women in Muslim History

As someone who writes and lectures about women and gender in Islam, I am often asked if women had any role in the making of the Islamic tradition. Happily, the answer is always yes. There were in fact many prominent women in the early history of Islam. At the top of the list would have More »

INSIGHT: Implications of the Beirut Bombing

The death of a senior Lebanese intelligence official in the October 19 bombing in central Beirut appears now to have been a targeted assassination. The official, Lebanese Internal Security Forces chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, was directly involved in providing logistical and supply-line support in Lebanon for the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is More »

Middle East Monitor: Lebanese Vow to Restore Order

- Protests in Tripoli against the government, Syria - IRD works to aid Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan - U.S. lawmakers clash over value of Iran talks - Turkey – surprisingly – is the leading jailer of journalists - A discussion with the author of “Waging War on More »