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: 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 »

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 »

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: US Middle East Policy – Caution and Partial Retreat?

The conventional wisdom is that American presidents who win a second term are less bound by domestic electoral considerations that may impose constraints on their foreign policy. But in his second term, President Barack Obama is unlikely to take any bold initiatives in the Middle East. Indeed, he is far more likely not only More »

INSIGHT: Obama’s Win – What It Means for the Middle East

With President Barack Obama’s re-election, many people across the Middle East are contemplating what this region might expect from his second term. Over the next four years, Obama will likely continue the policy directions set in his first term: by completing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, for example, and reaching out to global players like More »

INSIGHT: Malala Yousafzai and the Role of Women in Muslim History

As someone who writes and lectures about women and gender in Islam, I am often asked if women had any role in the making of the Islamic tradition. Happily, the answer is always yes. There were in fact many prominent women in the early history of Islam. At the top of the list would have More »

QUICKTAKE: Captured Gadhafi Fighters Beaten, Executed – Peter Bouckaert, HRW

Human Rights Watch says it has new evidence indicating that forces opposed to Moammar Gadhafi beat and executed a large group of his supporters after the ousted leader’s capture and death last year. Gadhafi died October 20, 2011, after his convoy of supporters trying to flee the city of Sirte was hit by an airstrike and attacked by militia More »

Middle East Monitor: Who’s Responsible for Benghazi Deaths?

- A top U.S. official takes responsibility for lack of security in Libya - More on allegations that Syria is using cluster bombs - Russia seeks to rebuild its influence in Iraq - New sanctions aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear More »

‘Let Girls Be Girls!’ – UN Marks First-ever Day of the Girl Child

October 11, 2012, marks the United Nation’s first-ever observance of the International Day of the Girl Child. According to the U.N., selected as this year’s theme was “Ending Child Marriage.” Organizers say it was chosen because the practice is seen as a phenomenon that violates millions of girls’ rights, disrupts their education, jeopardizes their More »

Arab Women Launch Online Uprising

On October 1st, 2012, women organizers launched a Facebook page, “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World,” to highlight the discrimination against them which they don’t feel comfortable – or safe – enough to protest in the streets.  In just ten days, the page has generated nearly 35,000 “likes” and conversation among more More »

INSIGHT: Libya, Tunisia Leaders Face Tough Balancing Act

The violence and protests which recently took place across the Middle East have largely been attributed to rage over the anti-Islamic film The Innocence of Muslims, but their impact on the transition and ongoing political power struggle between moderates and extremists may hold broader implications for Western policy. The embassy attacks in Libya and More »