INSIGHT: Getting Egypt Right This Time

In the aftermath of the Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, much of the debate in Washington has focused on the question of U.S. aid. Should the United States call the military’s action a coup and suspend aid as demanded by the law, or not? The answer has been hotly debated, with prominent More »

INSIGHT: Egypt’s NGO Convictions Demand Assertive Response

Yesterday, an Egyptian court convicted 63 employees of pro-democracy NGOs – including 19 Americans (all but one in absentia – MEV) – on charges of receiving illegal foreign funding. The decision is not only a giant leap backward for Egypt’s dwindling democratic prospects, but also a fundamental assault on American interests, which include protecting U.S. 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: Israel’s Election Surprise

Israeli voters delivered an unexpected outcome in the general election held on January 22nd. According to still preliminary results, a late surge by the new centrist Yesh Atid party saw it capture 19 seats and emerge as the second-largest grouping after Likud-Beiteinu, which secured 31 seats in the 120-member Knesset (parliament). Overall, the election More »

SYRIA WITNESS: A Mother Saves Her Son from the Draft

Rund, by her own account, is a citizen journalist in Izraa, Syria. In this installment of her regular posts she shares the story of a family’s daring escape from Syria into neighboring Jordan. Middle East Voices’ “Syria Witness” series features personal accounts by citizen-journalists inside Syria about the grim challenges of survival in a war More »

QUICKTAKE: Egypt on the Brink Again?

Tensions remain high in Egypt ahead of a December 15 referendum on a highly-contested draft constitution, authored by an Islamist-dominated assembly.  Supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi clashed in Cairo this week, throwing rocks and firebombs.  Meanwhile, three key presidential advisers resigned in protest of  sweeping powers the new president has claimed More »

Election 2012: Obama, Romney – Where They Stand on Middle East Policy

As Americans ponder which US Presidential candidate they will vote for on November 6th, Arabs are also questioning which man--standing President Barack Obama or contender Governor Mitt Romney--will make the bigger difference for the Middle East. Here's how they weigh in on important issues. More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Life is Vanishing in Damascus

Kareem is, by his own account, the publisher of an underground newspaper in Damascus and an activist performing relief work and media relations for the Local Coordination Committees of Syria in Damascus and in Homs, where he grew up. He talked recently on Skype with Syria Witness about the difficulties of living in Damascus More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Shells and Rockets are Part of our Daily Lives

(file) Men wait to buy bread in front of a bakery shop during winter in Al Qusayr, a city in western Syria about 4.8km (3 miles) southwest of Homs, March 1, 2012.

Our source for this report is Sami al-Rifaie who, by his own account, is an activist and citizen-journalist who lives in Qusayr. Qusayr is a city in the mountains of western Syria that overlooks the Lebanese border. Sami al-Rifaie is not his real name. Sami last wrote about a childhood friend who escaped from Syria More »

QUICKTAKE: ‘Drones Sometimes Kill the Wrong People’ – Gregory Johnsen

Among the Arab Spring uprisings of last year, only the one in Yemen produced a negotiated regime change.  The conflict in Syria has entered its 19th month. Some uprising have produces some change; others less. Autocrats in three countries chose exile, were jailed or killed, but President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen agreed to More »

QUICKTAKE: Corruption Is Jordan’s Number One Foe – David Schenker

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan organized a rally in Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom, to peacefully protest against government corruption. They also called for reforms by King Abdullah II and his government that would give Jordan’s voters a bigger say in who goes to parliament and how the prime minister is chosen. The More »

VIEWPOINT: On Democracy, US Should Not Engage in Double-speak

The events of the past weeks have brought to the fore the tenuous nature of new democratic transitions in the Middle East and the role of the U.S. in its engagement with the region. A debate has emerged regarding principles of freedom of speech, incitement, and the nature of U.S. democracy promotion. Some have More »

Examining Free Speech in Wake of Anti-US Protests

It's an issue that has been making headlines lately, triggered not just by the highly controversial film clip depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an offensive light, but by the publication of cartoons in a French magazine--and even the release of revealing photos of British royals. More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Why Doesn’t Fadi Call to Ask If I’m Alive?

Our source, Sami, by his own account, is a Sunni Muslim who lives in Qusayr, a farm town near the city of Homs. He grew up in Qusayr with his best friend, Fadi, who is a Christian. Given the existing sectarian divisions in Syria, their friendship and current separation, in many ways, illustrate the More »

QUICKTAKE: ‘What Arabs Don’t Know About the United States’ – Mohammed Dajani

Mohammed S. Dajani is head of the American Studies Graduate Program at al-Quds University in Jerusalem. As a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C., Dajani delivered an August 6 policy forum on “What Arabs Don’t Know About the United States.” His talk was based on a survey More »

QUICKTAKE: We Condemn US Envoy Killing, Anti-American Attacks in Libya, Egypt – Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR

U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three embassy staff have been killed after a mob angered over an amateur American-made short film that mocks Islam’s Prophet Muhammad stormed the U.S. consulate in the eastern city Benghazi late Tuesday. Responding to the violence, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, has condemned the killing of the More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Helicopters Drop Improvised Barrel Bombs on Qusayr

Our source for this post is Sami al-Rifaie who, by his own account, is an activist and citizen journalist  in Qusayr where he says he has witnessed Syrian government helicopters dropping large barrel bombs with TNT and scrap metal on the town’s residential areas. Sami al-Rifaie is not his real name and his account, More »

QUICKTAKE: Syria Censorship Challenges US Policymakers – William Rugh

The Syrian government has virtually banned foreign journalists from entering the country, making it difficult to confirm what really is happening in the fight between pro-Assad forces and rebel groups. U.S. Ambassador William Rugh spoke with VOA’s Christina Howerton about the censorship and how Washington considers unofficial reports in policymaking. Rugh worked as a diplomat More »

QUICKTAKE: Romney Will Demonstrate He’s Not Bluffing – Foreign Policy Adviser Dov Zakheim

Dov Zakheim, the chief foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney, the U.S. Republican Party’s presidential nominee, has a difficult task: Explaining the world view of a candidate who has very little foreign policy experience. The candidate recently outraged Palestinian leaders when, on a trip to Israel, he said the Israeli economic success came down to “cultural differences” More »

QUICKTAKE: Syrians Need to Decide Who Their Gov’t Is – Rafif Jouejati

A group of Syrian activists has released a 120-page document intended to be a blueprint for a transitional government, should President Bashar al-Assad leave office. The document, The Day After: Supporting a Transitional Government in Syria, was made public in Berlin on Tuesday after six months of meetings involving 45 Syrians. Most of the people who helped More »