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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 »

QUICKTAKE: US Doctor Sees Credible Evidence of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, an American physician and president of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS),  has just returned from his sixth mission to Syria. While there, he visited half a dozen hospitals where doctors claim they have treated patients for exposure to chemical nerve agents. VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary reached him by phone in 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 »

VOICES: Egypt’s Street Children – Victims of Political Instability

Egypt’s street children had a lot to gain from the country’s revolution. However, change has come slowly if at all, and in many ways, their cause has been pushed off course. Increasing poverty, a growing shadow economy, and continued political instability, have proven challenges to the safety of these children. The issue of street children More »

INSIGHT: Egyptian Civil Society Under Threat

Egyptian civil society played a critical role in paving the way for the January 2011 revolution by challenging the former autocracy and educating citizens about their rights. After the revolution, Egyptian civil society, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, and voluntary youth activists, have acted as attentive watchdogs of the advancement of civil rights More »

INSIGHT: Libya Needs National Reconciliation, Not Retribution

If a strong initiative is not undertaken rapidly by the Libyan government and its Western allies, the state of Libya risks implosion or a return to authoritarianism. The confluence of internal fragmentation, continued attacks against the central authorities in Tripoli, and ongoing human rights violations throughout the country is putting the very existence of 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 »

VOICES: The Politics of Egypt’s Rape, Sexual Assault Epidemic

In a powerful scene from the 2010 Egyptian film “678,” a veiled woman boards a crowded public bus on her way to work, squeezing through a mass of passengers in search of a space where she will feel least vulnerable to attack. Inevitably, though, groping hands reach her and she has no choice but 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 »

VOICES: President Morsi’s Finger & Human Dignity in Egypt

When declaring a state of emergency in the canal cities in response to clashes in Port Said last week, President Mohamed Morsi finally showed Egyptians his “bad cop” side after months of “good cop” rhetoric filled with invocations of “hugs” and “love.” What quickly became viral from the announcement was the clip of 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 »

QUICKTAKE: Police Impunity, Sexual Assaults Rampant in Egypt Protests

The recent second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak was marred by renewed violence between protesters and security forces of the country’s new government under President Mohamed Morsi. Disillusioned with the direction taken by Egypt’s new Islamist leader, activists took to the streets again reportedly only to see a replay More »

QUICKTAKE: Syria Aid Deliveries – How the Red Cross Does It

The United Nations says an international donor conference has raised about $500 million for humanitarian relief efforts inside war-ravaged Syria. Most of those funds are likely to go to aid agencies operating out of Damascus under official Syrian government supervision. But some relief workers say unofficial methods are better for reaching many Syrians in need 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 »

VOICES: Syria’s Hunger Games

An intrinsic component of Syria’s ongoing civil war, the control and distribution of food is becoming a multi-faceted strategic tool used not only to punish foes but also to build patronage. Just as shipments of arms and other military equipment can sway the results of a conflict, the supply of food can be just More »

QUICKTAKE: Amnesty Hails Call for Action on Syria Crimes

Amnesty International has welcomed news the United Nations is being called upon to take action on crimes committed in the Syrian conflict. The call came in a petition submitted to the U.N. Security Council by Switzerland. The document has the support of dozens of countries. VOA’s Susan Yackee spoke about Amnesty’s position with its representative More »

INSIGHT: Future of Egypt Civil Society in Jeopardy

On Thursday, January 10, a court in Cairo is to resume its case against foreign-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt. The case can be traced back to events just over a year ago when Egypt witnessed an unprecedented assault on its civil society. In December 2011, Egyptian authorities raided the offices of 11 human rights and 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 »

INSIGHT: Egypt – A Choice of Two Tyrannies

The recent confrontation in Egypt between Islamist and secular parties has caused the most dangerous crisis yet in that country’s unhappy political transition. The standoff is the unavoidable consequence of a struggle for power between two political forces that have no incentive to compete in the same political arena on the basis of accepted More »

INSIGHT: With Egypt in Crisis, US Must Act for Human Rights

Nearly two years after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, here we are once again with protesters back in the Egyptian streets, facing army tanks and tear gas, and this time with human rights defenders openly expressing concerns about the possibility of civil war. There’s only one way out of this: Egypt has to build More »