INSIGHT: Bahrain Uprising – Three Years In, Still No Way Out

Three years after Bahrain joined the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East, human rights defenders are left wondering when the Obama Administration will put action behind its flamboyant 2011 rhetoric about rights, freedom and the rule of law. Those who took to the streets in the small Gulf kingdom on February 14 that More »

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: Egypt – a Tinderbox Waiting for a Spark

Nearly six months after the mass uprising-cum-coup that toppled Mohamed Morsi, the key cleavages of Egypt’s domestic political conflict are not only unresolved, but unresolvable. The generals who removed Morsi are engaged in an existential struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood: They believe they must destroy the Brotherhood – by, for instance, designating it a 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: The Government Cracks Down, and Egypt Shrugs

Egyptians say the mood is different now. Gone is the call of the revolution demanding justice for the brutal torture and killing of a young man and an end to the police abuse his case exemplified. In its place is a weary, national shrug toward brutal attacks, now that they’re directed against the Muslim 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: Saudi Arabia’s War on Twitter

Two studies released in November show once again Saudi Arabia’s extraordinary appetite for Twitter compared to that in other countries. This has renewed interest in the potential for social media to facilitate political mobilization in the kingdom. Indeed, the Saudi Twittersphere reveals significant public discontent with the government’s performance on addressing domestic problems like unemployment More »

INSIGHT: Egyptian Women – Between Reports and Reality

I was not surprised by the contents of a report published recently by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the status of women’s rights in the Arab world. Reactions to the report among Egyptians, however, were interesting, ranging from support to opposition to complete dismissal. Egypt was found to be the worst state for Arab More »

INSIGHT: Egypt Disorganization

For the first time since Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow five months ago, street protests erupted in Egypt last week that were not specifically the work of the Muslim Brotherhood aimed at restoring the deposed leader to the presidency. The protagonists this time were another group of familiar faces.  The different groups that are commonly lumped together More »

INSIGHT: Quotas and Women in Egyptian Politics

Last week, Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, charged with amending the country’s constitution, announced that 25 percent of municipal seats will be reserved for women. There is no word yet on when municipal elections will be held, or if a similar quota will be established for parliament, but the move is a positive step toward improving More »

INSIGHT: Rights Groups in Egypt Face Withering Assault

Human rights groups are routinely tarred in today’s Egyptian media – including social media – as either “traitors supporting terrorism” or “mercenaries selling their services to the highest bidder.” They are being denounced for treachery despite their utter dedication and consistency in standing by the principles of human rights and democracy through all the More »

INSIGHT: 4 Things the US Should Do to Regain Credibility in Egypt

Last week, Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was the target of an assassination attempt that took place just steps from where protesters gathered last month in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The bomb blast – reported to have injured 10 policemen and 11 civilians, including a child – is the latest in a 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 »

INSIGHT: Egypt and Flaws in the Modern Personality Cult

Anti-Morsi protesters hold a poster depicting the head of Egypt's armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in Cairo's Tahrir Square July 3, 2013. (Reuters)

Once, when Hosni Mubarak still led Egypt, I met a man in his mid-20s on a dusty, congested street near Tahrir Square. When he extended his hand to shake mine for the first time, I noticed a small black cross tattooed on his inner wrist, a discreet but potent reminder of his membership in More »

INSIGHT: In Egypt, Crackdown Threatens to Divide Muslim Brotherhood

Six weeks after toppling the government, the Egyptian military moved to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood, raising questions about the future of the world’s largest Islamist movement. The Brotherhood has demonstrated an ability to weather far worse suppression, but this time it is facing a different sort of crisis – one that could 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 »

INSIGHT: Democracy’s Losing the Street Fight

Should we have democracy on demand? In Egypt, protesters who have been in the streets for weeks trying to reverse the outcome of June 30 have been dispersed by bulldozers and bullets, and the future of democracy is no more secure than when they first set up camp. But not only Egypt – Spain, Turkey, Brazil, 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 »