March 14, 2016 |
Five years ago, a wave of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world sparked hope the region was changing for the better. But Arab Spring led to a new wave of repression, tyranny, unrest, and civil war. Will the region ever achieve stability, much less democracy? To discuss that question, three Middle East experts appear this week at the Free Library of Philadelphia - former NSA director and CIA chief Michael V. Hayden (Monday), exiled Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi (Wednesday)
June 17, 2015 |
How many times have you looked at news reports from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, or Syria and thought, "How come they can't keep it together?" How is it the elite in Arab countries can't move beyond repressive regimes? How come they haven't discovered democracy yet? How many of us have fantasized, "If only I were king, I'd figure it all out"? With FX's political soap opera Tyrant , created by Gideon Raff, the Israeli TV wunderkind responsible for Prisoners of War and its American remake, Homeland , we got a chance to do just that: take a struggling, oil- and mineral-rich desert dictatorship and guide her to freedom.
March 16, 2015 |
Those who criticize President Obama's weak foreign policy (as I have done often) have been looking for smarter ideas from prospective candidates for 2016. Judging by Lettergate - the bizarre tale of the missive sent by Sen. Tom Cotton and 46 Republican colleagues to Iran's ayatollahs - the Republicans aren't ready for prime time. Take a look at the broader implications of the letter and you'll see why. What was most disturbing about the letter was the carelessness with which it was dispatched.
April 15, 2014
IT WASN'T exactly "When Harry Met Sally" when Haleh met Shaul. Haleh Esfandiari and Shaul Bakhash are both Iranian, both highly and Western-educated, but Haleh is Muslim and Shaul is Jewish. When they planned to marry almost 50 years ago, before the Iranian Revolution turned the clock back to the Bronze Age, their families were shocked, says Shaul, but they got over it, says Haleh, "when they realized how much we loved each other and what sensible people we were. " They were married in a civil ceremony in Vienna in 1965.
February 14, 2014 |
Secretary of State John Kerry has done Israelis and Palestinians a huge favor by pushing them to make one last try at negotiating a two-state solution. After months of effort, Kerry will soon present a draft framework meant to serve as a basis for a final agreement. Critics such as Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have called Kerry's project "obsessive and messianic. " Although those remarks were quickly refuted by Prime Minisiter Benjamin Netanyahu, Ya'alon was correct: You really do have to be mad to try to close the current gap between Israelis and Palestinians.
February 3, 2014 |
For those who think the failures of the Arab Spring prove the Mideast is unsuited to democracy, Jordan's Marwan Muasher begs to differ. A scholar and statesman who's long been a voice for tolerance in the Arab world, Muasher argues - in his important new book, The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism - that it's too soon to judge the outcome of the Arab upheavals that began in 2011. He says: "The Arab world never operated in a culture of democracy, so you can't expect a transformational process in three years.
May 3, 2013 |
JERUSALEM - Israel's prime minister gave a cool reception Wednesday to a new Arab Mideast peace initiative, saying the conflict with the Palestinians was not about territory but rather the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. The remarks signaled trouble for Secretary of State John Kerry's new push for Mideast peace and risked reinforcing Benjamin Netanyahu's image as a hard-liner unwilling to make the tough concessions required for peace. Netanyahu has not commented directly on the Arab League's latest initiative, but his words questioned its central tenet - the exchange of captured land for peace - and appeared to counter a modified peace proposal from the Arab world that Washington and Netanyahu's own chief negotiator have welcomed.
March 23, 2013 |
JERUSALEM - President Obama urged Israelis on Thursday to move decisively in a spirit of self-preservation and empathy to secure a lasting peace, but he delivered an even sharper ultimatum to Palestinians to drop conditions that have held up a new round of negotiations. His evening address at the Jerusalem International Convention Center signaled a shift away from the balance he has sought to maintain between Israeli and Palestinian leaders since taking office - and toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he has had a stormy relationship, at least until this trip.
January 15, 2013
By Moncef Marzouki The futurist Alvin Toffler used to say that when a society reaches a certain degree of development, democracy becomes a technical necessity, not simply an ethical one. But this rule didn't seem to apply to the Arab world. Industrialization failed, "modernity" arrived late due to colonization, and when a democratic wave destroyed dictatorships in Latin America and Eastern Europe, little happened in North Africa and the Middle East. Racists pointed to the wrong cause for this phenomenon, citing the culture.
August 6, 2012 |
Here we go again. That strange coalition of neocons and liberal interventionists is clamoring once more for a more muscular U.S. approach to Syria. And, unsurprisingly, they're looking to blame someone for "losing" the country. Don't believe any of it. The time for guilting the United States into expensive, ill-thought-out military interventions has passed. The reasons to intervene in Syria — to defuse a bloody conflict and deal the Iranian mullahs a mortal blow — are just not compelling enough to offset the risks and unknowns.