The alliance between Iran and Syria has been an important and persistent feature on the political landscape of the Middle East for more than three decades. The eruption of the Syrian uprising in the spring of 2011 has presented the greatest challenge to the survival of the Tehran-Damascus nexus. Does this signify the end of the partnership? This article provides a brief overview of the relationship and a detailed analysis of the evolution of Iran’s policies, perspectives, interests, and options in the ongoing Syrian crisis.
For the last 30 years, the United States and Iran largely have remained estranged from each other, but the Obama administration has expressed interest in a dialogue with Iran. Two recent Middle East Program events explored whether negotiation is possible in the current atmosphere.
Of all the states that rose against tyranny, Egypt and Tunisia have traveled the furthest on the road to democratic transformation. However, concerns about the Islamists’ fidelity to democracy continue to mount. This is particularly so in Egypt where the president seems susceptible to authoritarian proclivities and the Islamist elite show little inclination to compromise. In Tunisia, the prospects for democracy are relatively better as Ennahda, partners in the governing coalition, have little choice but to be flexible. It is rather ironic that democratic transformation is left in the hands of those professing fidelity to principles whose compatibility with democracy is contested.
While Iran’s nuke talks in Istanbul were ‘constructive and useful,’ the real work is yet to come writes Public Policy Scholar Michael Adler in this follow-up report on the P5+1 talks in Istanbul.
"Having been around Middle East negotiations, particularly failed ones, for more than a few years, here are five rules out of the negotiator's handbook that everyone should bear in mind," writes Aaron David Miller.
Haleh Esfandiari comments on President Obama's speech to Congress making his case for military action against Syria.
By David B. Ottaway, Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center and former Bureau Chief, Washington Post, Cairo
Two years after the uprising that forced President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali into exile, Tunisians are slowly coming to grips with the reality of politics in a pluralist system where opposition is real and the outcome of political contestation is not predetermined. The process is slow and somewhat uncertain, and it would be premature to conclude that Tunisian politicians have fully embraced not only the concept of democracy but also its concrete implications.