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INSIGHT: Tunisia – What to Expect from Its New Constitution

Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) is voting on a new constitution.  The approval process is expected to be finalized this week. Tunisia has become an oasis of optimism in an otherwise tumultuous region. Egypt recently approved a new constitution, but its drafting was hardly a process of consensus, never mind the fact that this is 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: 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: 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: Tunisia – Crisis Averted But Challenges Remain

The assassination of a leading anti-Islamist politician, Chokri Belaid, at the start of February plunged Tunisia into its deepest political crisis since the revolution of January 2011. It crystallized widespread dissatisfaction with the failure of the interim government, led by the moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, to halt the rising tide of political violence 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 »

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 »

‘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: 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 »

POINTS OF VIEW: Tunisia Two Years After Its Revolution

Tunisians just marked the second anniversary of the toppling of long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, an event which unleashed an entire wave of popular uprisings across the Arab world. Ben Ali’s ouster did pave the way to free elections and the formation of a new government in Tunisia, but it left millions of 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: 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: The Middle East in 2013 – Don’t Count on It

The Middle East in 2012 was surprising, exhilarating, depressing, and endlessly fascinating.  Will it be the same in 2013?  Odds are, yes, but there is really no way of providing an accurate forecast.  If we’ve learned anything in the last few years, let’s try not to build scenarios – a favorite Washington, D.C., exercise.  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: 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 »