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: Yemen – Another Battlefield in Saudi-Iran Proxy War

In addition to Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Syria, Yemen represents yet another chessboard in the tactical maneuvers between Tehran and Riyadh in the Arab world. The current tide of the sectarian militancy between Shi’ite rebels and Sunni Salafi fighters, which began sweeping the northern provinces of Yemen on October 30, has once again put the More »

INSIGHT: Al-Qaida’s Resiliency in Yemen

The closing of U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East due to threats from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) indicates that however successful the U.S. drone program has been, the terrorist group continues to be a resilient, adaptable opponent. On July 16, AQAP second-in-command Said al-Shihri was killed by a suspected drone attack in 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 »

QUICKTAKE: Close Guantanamo, Says Facility’s Former Chief Prosecutor

More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to close the controversial detention facility for suspected terrorists and enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. Of the nearly 800 men held there over the past decade, 166 remain today; many of them are currently on a hunger strike. Retired U.S. 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 »

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 »

VOICES: Youth Will Define Yemen’s Future

Positive civil and political youth activism has been the most rewarding result of the Yemeni uprising of 2011. Individual activism, youth initiatives and the participation of youth in new political parties have introduced fresh approaches and perspectives to Yemen’s civil and political arenas. This youth involvement is already changing the landscape in Yemen. For example, in 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 »

VOICES: A Bleak Future for Yemen’s Women Leaders

The participation of Yemeni women in the country’s uprising fascinated the world early last year. Yet the uprising also represented simultaneous opportunity and danger for women, especially female opinion leaders. An opportunity because women had the chance to be empowered. For instance, their parliamentary participation quota is under consideration to be increased from 15 to More »

QUICKTAKE: Yemen at the Precipice?

People inspect the site of a shooting attack on a Saudi diplomat in Sanaa November 28, 2012. Unidentified gunmen shot dead Saudi diplomat Khaled al-Enizi and his Yemeni bodyguard in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Wednesday in the attack a local security source said appeared to be the work of al Qaeda. REUTERS

Gunmen have killed a diplomat from Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.  Yemeni security officials and diplomatic sources say attackers wearing security force uniforms shot at the Saudi diplomat’s car today, killing him and his bodyguard. Susan Yackee asked Robert Powell, a senior Middle East analyst and Yemen expert with The Economist Intelligence Unit More »

INSIGHT: Can Social Expenditures Be Reformed in Arab States?

According to a new report by the World Bank, Arab states spend far more on social programs than other developing countries. Whereas states outside the region with comparable income levels spend roughly three percent of their GDP on social expenditures, the weighted average in the Arab world stands at nearly double that amount – 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 »