Middle East and North Africa News

ISIS Says the Quran Allows Enslaving Women. Will Clerical Leaders Respond?

Oct 14, 2014
"Islamic State militants crossed a last possible boundary of decency by citing the Quran as authority for the barbarism they have been practicing against women. Equally disturbing, Arab leaders and the ulama, the clerical leaders of Islam, have been silent in the face of this effrontery," writes Haleh Esfandiari.

Show Me the Money

Oct 14, 2014
Jane Harman contributed a short analysis to a debate on the U.S. defense budget for Politico’s “The Agenda,” arguing that expenditures for the latest counter-terrorism efforts against ISIL should be part of Congressionally authorized defense expenditures rather than in a separate fund.

The Iranian Sphere of Influence Expands Into Yemen

Oct 09, 2014
"The implications of events in Yemen extend beyond its borders. If the Houthis secured Bab Al Mandab and the sea in Al Hudaydah governorate, another strategic waterway, they would control the traffic from the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf, a sobering prospect for those worried about increased Iranian influence in the region,"

Why Kobani Matters

Oct 09, 2014
"Thundering air power can be daunting, but sometimes the effect is more psychological than physical. Big costly bombs fired by big costly warplanes have been knocking a fair number of “armed vehicles,” which may be little more than a pick-up truck with a weapon mounted on the back. But they have not yet set back the ISIS campaign in Syria," writes Robin Wright.

The Nation-Building Trap

Oct 01, 2014
"It's the reality that we're being pulled inexorably like a moth to a flame not just toward a military conflict with Assad, but toward bearing the responsibility for fixing -- or worse for creating -- the new Syria...we may well end up in the very place U.S. President Barack Obama has willfully tried to avoid: nation-building," writes Aaron David Miller.

Congress AWOL on Mideast Action

Oct 01, 2014
"Despite its claims to the contrary, ISIS looks outmatched. But our recent strikes were just an opening salvo. A considered, long-term strategy (including kinetic action) needs a careful framework and congressional authorization. The debate is crucial, and the only way to make room for debate is with a special session of Congress. The president should seek it now," writes Jane Harman.

Iran’s Dinner Diplomacy

Sep 30, 2014
"It’s crunch time for diplomacy on Iran’s controversial nuclear program." Last year, President Rouhani answered Obama's question of possible coöperation on other matters with a "Persian proverb: 'Let’s raise the baby we just gave birth to before we have another.' This year, given the success of ISIS, the Iranians seem to be in a bit more of a hurry to get that process started" says Robin Wright.

Ghannouchi: Middle East at Crossroads

Sep 29, 2014
On September 29, Sheikh Rachid al Ghannouchi argued that the Middle East is at a crossroads rather than in a crisis. On one hand, the region is experiencing a rise in extremism and instability, but it is also moving “towards democracy, development and progress,” he said at the United States Institute of Peace.

Sexual Violence Under ISIS Control

Sep 25, 2014
"You should focus on 50% of the population, which is women, and see what is happening to them. You should mention them, you should have the courage to say 'yes this is done to our women; this is done to our sisters, daughters, wives...'" said Haleh Esfandiari.

Ironies in Obama’s U.N. Address

Sep 25, 2014
"As Washington teams up with autocratic regimes–some of which notoriously use the cover of their faith to justify unfair policies–the United States may have credibility problems among the very people it hopes to help," writes Robin Wright.

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