The Middle East Program pays special attention to the role of women, youth, civil society institutions, Islam, and democratic and autocratic tendencies. In addition, the Middle East Program hosts programs on cultural issues, including contemporary art and literature in the region. Programming topics include:
The Middle East Program emphasizes analysis of current issues and their implications for long-term developments in the region, including Arab-Israeli diplomacy, Iraq and its neighbors, political participation, globalization, technology transfer, U.S. foreign policy, economic and political partnerships, and the impact of developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
The Middle East Program examines employment patterns, education, legal rights, and political participation of women in the region. The role of women in advancing civil society, the problem of trafficking in women, and the attitudes of governments and the clerical community toward women’s rights are areas to which the Program devotes considerable attention. The Program also has a keen interest in exploring women’s increasing roles in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction activities.
Islam, Democracy, and Civil Society
The Middle East Program monitors the growing demand of people in the region for democratization, accountable government, the rule of law, and adherence to international conventions on topics such as human rights and women’s rights. It continues to examine the role of Islamic movements in shaping political and social developments and the variety of factors that favor or obstruct the expansion of civil society.
The Middle East Program devotes considerable attention to the analysis of internal domestic and social developments in Iran; the aspiration of the younger generation for reform and expansion of individual liberties; the nature of civil society; the centrality of Iran in the region; relations with neighboring states; foreign policy priorities; Iran’s nuclear program; and potential avenues for reconciliation with the United States.
The Middle East Program recognizes the need to explore the implications of unprecedented demographic growth of young people in the region. Among the youth-related issues on which the program has focused are the implications of widespread unemployment and limited access to education at the higher levels; technological literacy; levels of political participation; and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
The Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Middle East Forum
The Forum was created in 2004 to strengthen the Middle East Program’s ability to explore opportunities and means for the resolution of regional conflicts including, but not limited to, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Forum addresses the role of individuals, governments, and NGOs in promoting peace and stability in the region.