The Egyptian Revolution: A Year Later

Many observers and analysts of the Arab Spring have tended to draw quick conclusions about the successes or failures of the revolutionary upheavals that have swept the Middle East and North Africa based on what has thus far transpired on the ground. This is a common mistake. Every Arab country that has gone through the revolution remains immersed within the very early stages of the revolutionary process. To determine the real prospects for political and economic reforms in any of these countries, we have to look into the nature of the grass-root movement that precipitated the revolution, the core issues that the newly-emerging governments face and the choices they are likely to make. Looking at Egypt from this perspective reveals that, notwithstanding, the continuing political squabbles and the combined margins of victory of the Islamic parties in the new parliament, the country is on a path of real political recovery, however long this process may take.

January 23, 2012 Read more

Assad’s Demise, Iranian Shadows

Unlike any other Arab country, Syria holds the key to several conflicts in the Middle East. The future of the Iran-led "resistance block" (along with Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas), stabilization in Iraq, the conflict with Israel, as well as Turkey's "new eastern policy" all depend on what will happen in Syria in the wake of the ongoing uprising. Now, after eight months of protests, with thousands of people killed, tens of thousands arrested and no end in sight, what can be done to stop the carnage and inhibit, if not end, Iran's direct intervention to keep Assad in power and extricate Tehran from Damascus through a regime change? A general look at the scene suggests six major elements that characterize the current situation in Syria which make it unlikely for Syria's President Assad to stay in power.

November 22, 2011 Read more

Syria’s Dilemma

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Southern Lebanon to great fanfare last month, he did more than irk Israelis and the West who seek to diminish Iranian influence in the Levant.  The visit served to underscore the increasing polarization in the broader region, placing the divergent views of Iran and the Arab states in stark contrast, with Syria in the middle.  As a result, Syria is under newfound pressure.

November 16, 2010 Read more

Challenges To Democracy In The Arab And Muslim World

In this essay I argue that because of the long history of authoritarianism, tribalism, and religious and cultural sectarianism in the Arab and Muslim world, the introduction of democracy is not likely to succeed without an initial transitional period measured in years rather than months. During this period, four core measures that deal with the main challenges to democracy in the Arab and Muslim world must be undertaken simultaneously. They are: gradual political reforms, economic incentives through sustainable development, educational reform, and the building of democratic institutions. Together, they will allow home-grown liberal-oriented forces to work in concert, under the protection of the law, in shaping the emergence of a new democratic system congruent with each community’s unique needs and traditional environment.

October 6, 2006 Read more

Syria Versus Iran

The Bush administration’s strategy of treating Syria and Iran as if they are evil twins is fundamentally flawed. Although Damascus and Tehran have many common interests in addition to their grievances against the United States, they differ dramatically in their assessment of their regional rol

August 21, 2006 Read more

The Case for Engaging Syria

In my last weekly article “The Missing Link,” I argued for the need to engage Syria in any future negotiations that may lead to a sustainable ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. Since the reaction to my article was mixed, I thought that, given Syria’s critical importanc

August 7, 2006 Read more

The Missing Link

There is no doubt of the urgency in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. But, as the international debate moves into higher gear, the question is not whether a ceasefire should come as soon as possible but how to ensure that it will be sustained to prevent a reoccurrence of

July 31, 2006 Read more

‘Converging Interests’

For the first time, Israeli demands for ending the violence as a precondition for any progress in negotiation with the Palestinians converge with Hamas’ interests in ending the violence in order to survive politically following its overwhelming victory in the recent elections. This i

March 6, 2006 Read more

A Strategic Choice

Hamas’ rise to power provides the United States and Israel with a strategic opportunity to shift their attention to Israel’s northern front with Syria. Damascus’ interest in recovering the Golan Heights remains on the top of its national agenda. Syria is also in dire need

February 14, 2006 Read more
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