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VOICES: Inhumanity and the Moral Limit in Syria

At the start of the “Arab Spring,” I was so optimistic about the prospect of democracy in the Middle East and heartened by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. On my mind was the oppression of millions of Syrians by the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime. Also on my mind was my experience during Lebanon’s More »

VOICES: Syria’s Children – the Lost Generation

A few minutes late, he wanders in to join the group. All the other children have started dancing to the music blaring from the iPod speakers.  He doesn’t have a name tag, so one of the volunteers takes his hand and leads him over to a table in the corner of the room. “What’s More »

QUICKTAKE: Syria Extremists Restricting Women’s Rights

In Syria’s now nearly three-year-old conflict, certain armed extremist opposition groups are imposing strict and discriminatory rules on women and girls that have no basis in Syrian law, Human Rights Watch says in a new study. The findings have been drawn from interviews with 43 refugees from Syria in Iraqi Kurdistan and two in Turkey, More »

QUICKTAKE: New Approach Needed for Peace in Syria

A Syrian peace conference has been repeatedly delayed as U.S., Russian and U.N. diplomats struggle to get all parties involved to agree to take part.  Rebel brigades have voiced their opposition to the so-called “Geneva Two” process if the conference does not stipulate President Bashar al-Assad’s removal. Given the deadlock, some are calling for a More »

QUICKTAKE: Saudi ‘Hidden Hand’ Steering Iran Nuclear Talks?

The first round of Iran nuclear talks in Geneva broke down earlier this month after the P5+1 failed to reach consensus on a short-term deal that would have eased up sanctions and allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium at reduced levels.  Talks apparently ended over France’s demand that Iran stop construction on a heavy More »

QUICKTAKE: Can Israel Block a Deal With Iran?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to reassure the Israeli people that his positions regarding Iran’s nuclear program have not changed. He told an audience at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University that the international community should tighten rather than relax economic sanctions against Iran until Tehran completely ends its suspected nuclear weapons program. Israel sees More »

QUICKTAKE: Distrust Iran But Verify Its Intent

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed cautious hope about engaging with Iran over its nuclear program, but says the country must take concrete steps to prove its sincerity. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran is continuing a “vast and feverish” effort to acquire nuclear arms and that his country is ready to More »

QUICKTAKE: Complexities of Providing Aid to Syria’s Refugees

According to the United Nations, earlier this month the number of Syrian conflict refugees topped two million, putting an enormous strain not only on the people affected but also the host countries which have absorbed the vast majority of Syrians fleeing their homeland. Among the organizations providing assistance to the refugees – both to the More »

QUICKTAKE: US Military Aid to Egypt – ‘Subsidizing Tyranny’

The Obama administration continues to deliberate over whether the U.S. should continue its policy of providing roughly $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.  Many argue that the U.S. gets a lot for its money – priority passage through the Suez Canal, military sales and insurance that Egypt will continue honoring its peace More »

QUICKTAKE: US Military Aid to Egypt – Maintain Existing Leverage

The United States is still undecided on whether it should continue providing $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt.  President Barack Obama says he doubts any U.S. action – or inaction – will have much impact on Egypt’s military, which appears determined to put down supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.  So what factors More »

VOICES: Bahrain – Sectarian Tensions and Foreign Misconceptions

I don’t know a single Bahraini who wouldn’t agree that the Bahraini government is in great need of reform. We need a governing system that is more representative and more responsive. However, it is only a very vocal and militant minority who believe this means that Bahrain needs a revolution – particularly as we More »

VOICES: Turkey’s Pivot Away from Democracy

For the second time in two months, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is clashing with secularists and opposition forces. The latest clash brings to the fore the question of whether Turkey will remain democratic, or if it is descending into authoritarianism. While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rightly emphasizes that More »

QUICKTAKE: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Vows to Continue Protests

This week witnessed some of the worst violence in Egypt since the armed forces removed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, from power in early July.  As the death toll rises – as many as 500 were reported dead Thursday – observers are not only focusing on the role the military and security More »

VOICES: Bahrain’s Lost Boys

Mahmood has not slept at home in eight months. His younger brother has not slept there in a year. But armed riot police continue to raid their family home monthly, breaking down bedroom doors searching for them. Mahmood and his brother are wanted by the government of Bahrain. They have been charged with various forms More »

VOICES: Egypt – What Next?

Regardless of whether July 3 was a revolution or a coup d’état against Egypt’s first democratically elected – president, Mohamed Morsi, the scene of millions of Egyptians taking to streets on June 30 shows that the revolution Egyptians started in early 2011 is still in the making. Though it has taken a dangerous slide More »

QUICKTAKE: Political Reconciliation Key for Egypt Future

Following the removal from power in Egypt of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, experts are expressing concern that their exclusion from any future government might be detrimental to the country’s stability and might even trigger a civil war. Some say that political reconciliation between Islamist forces and the civilian caretaker government More »

VOICES: Women’s Rights in Egypt – Re-examining a Revolution

In the past two years much has been said about how Egypt’s popular uprising has affected women. All too often Egyptian women have been portrayed in absolute terms, as victims of a revolution that is in itself still a fluid work in progress. But as the one-year anniversary of Mohamed Morsi’s ascent to the More »

QUICKTAKE: Why Turkey Can Still Become a Model Muslim Democracy

If Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan respects the will of his people, Turkey can become the first consolidated Muslim democracy of the 21st century. That is the observation of Soner Cagaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an article published in the New York More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Bombs, Snipers and Rumors of Hezbollah Threaten Aleppo

Following the take-over of Qusair by Syrian government forces, observers of the country’s bloody conflict predict that President Bashar al-Assad will strike next at rebel-held areas of Aleppo, the Syria’s commercial center. Ahmad al-Hamadi is, by his own account, an Aleppo University employee who in this installment of Syria Witness reports about the hazards More »

VOICES: Egypt – Convicted for Trying to Help Build a Democracy

It’s not easy being a convicted felon. The fact that if I ever step foot in Egypt, or visit any of the countries with which it has extradition treaties (a long list by the way), I might be shoved into prison for five years is daunting, to say the least. What was my crime? Teaching More »