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INSIGHT: Islam Is Not the Solution to What Ails the Middle East

During the decades when Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was a barely tolerated opposition party, it campaigned against the reigning secular autocrats under the banner “Islam is the solution.” With the military’s removal on July 3 of the Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, the region’s oldest exemplar of political Islam has lost its best and perhaps only chance More »

INSIGHT: Women and Sports in Saudi Arabia

Last summer, I wrote about two young women from Saudi Arabia, Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar, who were the first Saudi women ever to compete in the Olympics. They had to endure criticism from conservatives at home and lots of discussion about what they would wear to compete, but they served as a powerful More »

INSIGHT: Copts and the Future of Egypt

The celebration of Coptic Easter this week sheds light on a significant political problem awaiting Egypt. While Coptic Christians are in the midst of celebrating a major holiday, prominent Islamists are debating whether or not it is a sin to greet Copts on their holiday. This is a far cry from the Egyptian tradition More »

QUICKTAKE: Losing World Heritage in Syria’s Civil War

In Syria, much of the heaviest fighting between government forces and rebels seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad occurs on terrain with landmarks of immeasurable historical value . Videos and the global media report revolutionary brigades seeking shelter in medieval castles, flames destroying Aleppo’s shops dating back to medieval times (pictured More »

INSIGHT: Strife Within Iran’s Divided Political System

Iran’s religious leadership criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday after pictures released Sunday showed a tearful Ahmadinejad hugging Hugo Chavez’s mother during the deceased Venezuelan leader’s funeral. The incident marked the second time in less than a week that the ayatollahs, Iran’s religious leaders, criticized Ahmadinejad for un-Islamic behavior. The religious leaders also took More »

INSIGHT: Tunisia’s Post-Revolution Blues

At least Tunisia is not as bad as Egypt – that is the hardly comforting good news coming out of the country where the Arab Spring began more than two years ago. The bad news is that Tunisia has come up far short of the lofty expectations set by Tunisians and outsiders in January More »

VOICES: Tunisia and Lebanon – a Tale of Two Assassinations

For some in Tunisia, the degree of resemblance between the assassination of Tunisian liberal opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6, 2013, and the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on February 14, 2005, is disconcerting. With the anniversary of Hariri’s death upon us, Tunisian politicians grappling with a solution to the More »

INSIGHT: Tunisia Assassination Highlights Stability Threat

The assassination of prominent Tunisian secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid highlights the growing threat of militancy in the country. This threat has the potential to deepen the divide between the secular and Islamist factions within Tunisia and delay the transition to a permanent government. Meanwhile, the Islamist-led interim government in Tunis is attempting to 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: 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: Women in Politics in Saudi Arabia

Just days ago, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah made history when he named thirty women to the kingdom’s Shura Council, an appointed advisory body that cannot enact legislation but is still the closest institution to a parliament in that country. He also amended the Shura Council’s law to ensure that women would make up no less than More »

INSIGHT: Small Step Forward for Saudi Women

Saudi King Abdullah is poised to appoint* women for the first time as members of the country’s Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council). The move is symbolically important, but the assembly itself lacks real power. The king first announced his intention to appoint women to the Majlis al-Shura over a year ago, and, since that time, newspaper reports More »

INSIGHT: Syria 2013 – Will the Poison Pill of Sectarianism Work?

At the dawn of the New Year President Bashar al-Assad and his regime remain committed to pursuing a corrosively destructive sectarian survival strategy, one enjoying a critical assist from an increasingly radicalized and politically directionless armed opposition.  Left to their own devices – as both the West and Russia seemed inclined to leave them – More »

INSIGHT: Toward a Democratic Constitution for Post-revolution Egypt

Egyptians from all walks of life and all corners of the nation rose up in the January 25, 2011, revolution to reclaim their freedom and the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights stolen from them for 30 years under Mubarak’s 1981 emergency law. Despite the wealth of the legislative system, Mubarak’s regime failed More »

VOICES: Achieving Malala Yousafzai’s Dream for Education in Pakistan

In an interview with Al Jazeera last year, the young Pakistani peace activist Malala Yousafzai said, “If this new generation is not given pens, they will be given guns by terrorists.” Yousafzai, who was shot October 9 by the Taliban and is being honored globally today by what the United Nations established as Malala Day, More »

VOICES: The Unfinished Uprising of Women in the Arab World

While the image of women participating in last year’s Arab uprisings has been repeatedly used to provide a narrative for the Arab uprisings, the outcome of what was dubbed the “Arab Spring” did not turn out to be that positive for women. In Egypt, women hold two percent of parliamentary seats in comparison to 12 More »

Middle East Monitor: What Syrian Cease-Fire?

- Disappointment with peace efforts in Syria. What next? - The Iranian Navy docks in Sudan, as tensions rise with Israel - Egypt’s Coptic Christians move closer to having a new pope - Legal issues cast doubt on the return of Christians to Turkey’s More »

Middle East Monitor: Cease-Fire in Syria Collapses

-        Air strikes in Damascus undo last day of truce -        Mali situation discussed in Algeria -        Free speech v. offensive speech in D.C.    More »

VOICES: What Would America’s Founding Fathers Say About Islam?

In recent weeks, people the world over have heard a great deal about divisions and conflict between Muslim communities and America. Yet looking more deeply at American history shows how much American tradition actually runs in the opposite direction. In today’s seemingly divisive world, I cannot help but think of the values of America’s More »

Middle East Monitor: Is the U.S. Arming Syrian Rebels?

- Notion of U.S. coordinating military assistance for Syrian rebels called “ludicrous” - Syrian refugees struggle in Jordanian camps - The U.S. and Israel hold military exercises - Turkish beach resorts cater to pious More »