INSIGHT: Egypt Election Stuck in Constitutional Logjam

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) has once more registered detailed objections to legislation proposed by the Shura Council (the upper house of the country’s parliament) to provide the framework for the election of the House of Representatives (the lower house). According to the constitution, which was pushed through by President Mohamed Morsi amid intense controversy More »

INSIGHT: Lessons Not Learned in Egypt

A protester with an Egyptian national flag rests during a rally in Cairo April 19, 2013. (Reuters)

As Egypt struggles to avoid economic collapse amid political instability and widespread unrest, it presents a critical case study of the lessons learned and ignored from the Arab uprisings. Faced with shrinking foreign reserves, a widening budget deficit, and low growth, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government appears to be wrestling with the urgency and risks More »

INSIGHT: Egypt’s Summer of Discontent

Due to a moribund economy, fuel and food shortages, and a lack of political opportunities, Egypt faces a tumultuous summer, and conditions will likely continue to deteriorate thereafter. While Washington should encourage Cairo to undertake necessary political and economic reforms that might calm the situation and improve governance, the Obama administration should concentrate on More »

INSIGHT: Why Iran’s Presidential Election Matters

In conversations with policymakers, journalists and analysts about the upcoming Iranian presidential elections, one question looms: does it even matter? Iran is, after all, an Islamic theocracy, a state in which the supreme leader is the ultimate decision-maker and elections are heavily stage-managed from start to finish. The president’s powers are explicitly limited, and More »

INSIGHT: Yes, Iraq Is Unraveling

As American troops were pulling out of Iraq in 2010, the U.S. effort to stabilize the country resembled the task of an exhausted man who had just pushed a huge boulder up a steep hill. Momentum had been painstakingly built up and the crest approached. Was it safe to stop pushing and hope that More »

INSIGHT: The Day After a Strike on Iran

All eyes are on what it will take to prevent Iran from getting its hands on a nuclear weapon. If sanctions and diplomacy prove incapable of containing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions – and soon – a military strike to destroy or at the very least delay its program is seen as the least bad option More »

INSIGHT: On Syria – Diplomacy, Coercion Not Mutually Exclusive

When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Moscow recently to discuss the deepening crisis in Syria, he brought with him the hope that the severity of events in the Middle East would finally be sufficient to spur Russia to reconsider its rigid support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and plans for a new multilateral More »

INSIGHT: Iran Presidential Race Heats Up

The race to replace Iran’s deeply polarizing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, officially opened last week with the registration of prospective candidates, and already the campaign promises an utterly fascinating ride through the unpredictable politics of the Islamic Republic. The shock and awe surrounding the last-minute decision by Iran’s iconic former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, More »

INSIGHT: Iraq’s Dangerous Relapse Needs US Attention

The month of April marked the tenth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, the third provincial election of the post-Saddam era – the country’s first without the presence of U.S. troops – and seven years since a relatively unknown Nouri al-Maliki emerged as the prime minister of Iraq. Nevertheless, after a period of relatively More »

INSIGHT: Israel’s Syria, Hezbollah Challenge

Israel in early May reportedly carried out its heaviest attacks on targets in Syria since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began in March of 2011, hitting a military convoy and several military installations near the capital, Damascus. The air strikes were the first direct military intervention by Israel since several of More »

INSIGHT: Mr. Erdogan Goes to Washington

In what the Turkish press is building up to be a “historic” trip, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be visiting Washington next week.  Much has changed since he was last here in December 2009.  In particular, Turkey’s position in the region has, despite its strong economic performance and rising diplomatic stature, deteriorated More »

INSIGHT: Women and Sports in Saudi Arabia

Last summer, I wrote about two young women from Saudi Arabia, Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar, who were the first Saudi women ever to compete in the Olympics. They had to endure criticism from conservatives at home and lots of discussion about what they would wear to compete, but they served as a powerful More »

INSIGHT: Syria – Conference Time

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow has yielded a proposal for a Syria “peace conference,” to be held as early as the end of this month.  This is significant in at least two ways: the Russians and Americans both still prefer a negotiated transition (often misleadingly referred to in the press as More »

INSIGHT: Copts and the Future of Egypt

The celebration of Coptic Easter this week sheds light on a significant political problem awaiting Egypt. While Coptic Christians are in the midst of celebrating a major holiday, prominent Islamists are debating whether or not it is a sin to greet Copts on their holiday. This is a far cry from the Egyptian tradition More »

INSIGHT: Bahrain – Losing the PR War on Human Rights

Bahrain’s government seems determined to sabotage its own image.  It complains that it’s misunderstood and unfairly criticized, but then continues to make decisions that baffle or enrage its international allies. Foreign criticism of Bahrain’s poor human rights record is increasing. Earlier this week, the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom cited “increased rhetoric from official More »

QUICKTAKE: PLO’s Envoy to US Says Arab Land Swap Initiative Nothing New

In a fresh bid to jumpstart long-stalled Middle East Peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Arab League officials in Washington this week to discuss possible changes in the 2002 Peace Initiative that might attract the parties back to the negotiating table.  Following the meeting Monday, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, More »

QUICKTAKE: Osama Bin Laden – More Fatal in Death?

Today marked the second anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden – instigator and mastermind of the 9-11 attacks in the United States in 2001.  Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al-Qaida hijackers crashed two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the More »

QUICKTAKE: US Doctor Sees Credible Evidence of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, an American physician and president of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS),  has just returned from his sixth mission to Syria. While there, he visited half a dozen hospitals where doctors claim they have treated patients for exposure to chemical nerve agents. VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary reached him by phone in More »

INSIGHT: What Does Bashar al-Assad Want?

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad argued in an interview aired on the state al-Ikhbariya television station last earlier this month that his country faces a choice between submitting to “a new colonization” by the West or to the “dark” forces of extremist Islamism. Europe and the United States will pay the price for weakening the More »

INSIGHT: Demystifying US Policy on Syria

The United States is not known for subtlety. This is perhaps unsurprising for a nation buffered by oceans and in possession of the world’s largest military and economy. That kind of power carries weight, and that kind of weight does not always allow the United States to be light on its feet. At the More »