Middle East and North Africa Publications
The latest shakeup in the ruling House of Saud has assured that Washington’s favorite prince, Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, will now become king as he is anointed heir apparent. But it also likely heralds new tensions in U.S.-Saudi relations as a new breed of “Saudi hawks” comes to power. They are opposed to any U.S. détente with Iran, its chief rival for regional hegemony. They are also gearing up for a military showdown with Tehran’s allies in in the Yemeni civil war, while the Obama administration is pressing for a negotiated political solution there.
The MENA Women Quarterly Report covers women’s advances and setbacks in politics, economics, conflict situations, and human rights issues throughout the MENA region.
Saudi Arabia has reacted to the attempt by Houthi Shi’ite rebels in Yemen to take over the entire country with Iranian backing by forming for the first time a pan-Arab Sunni military alliance against the Houthis. The Arab coalition has begun raining bombs down on Houthi positions across Yemen, and Saudi Arabia has amassed 150,000 troops along the Yemeni border. Now the Saudis and its Arab partners must decide whether and when to put “boots on the ground” in a belated attempt to stop the Houthi takeover.
The Islamic terrorist attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis may have serious ramifications on the fragile moderate center of Tunisian politics. An entente between Islamists and secularists that produced the Arab Spring’s only successful transition to democracy is already shaky. Tunisia has also produced the Arab world’s largest number of jihadis for the Islamic cause in Syria and Iraq, challenging the assumption that democracy is the best antidote for stemming the rise of Islamic extremism.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2015, the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center invited a cross-section of women activists, politicians, academics, and entrepreneurs to give us their views on the situation for women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This publication, “Expansion or Contraction? Women’s Rights in the MENA Region in 2015” includes pieces from 43 women from 22 countries including Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, and other countries in the MENA region, plus the United States, Austria, Indonesia, and Sudan, who shared with us their concerns and hopes for women.
Ottaway writes that ISIS has at least three components: ISIS as a proto-state, ISIS as part of an Islamist network, and ISIS as a state of mind. These different aspects of ISIS cannot be fought with the same means, and policies that might help against one of these components may make attempts to combat the others more difficult.
The onset of the Algerian War of Independence in November 1954 was an important development in the international history of the Cold War. Coming as it did on the heels of the end of the First Indochinese War, the Algerian conflict further emboldened national liberation forces throughout the colonial and semi-colonial world, a region of increasing importance to policymakers in Washington and Moscow. Pierre Asselin introduces documents from the Algerian National Archives on socialist bloc support for Algerian National Liberation Front.
After peaceful legislative and presidential elections in Tunisia toward the end of 2014, which were lauded on both the national and international levels, the attempt to form a new government reveals the tensions among the various political forces and the difficulties of constructing a democratic system in the country that was the birthplace of the "Arab Spring."
Saudi Arabia’s longtime powerful ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, has been stripped of all his security and intelligence duties within days of Prince Salman taking over as the kingdom’s new ruler. Bandar had been locked in a bitter struggle with Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef for the past two years over which of them was in charge of Saudi policy toward Syria and specifically whether to support rebel Islamic militants there, a Bandar strategy Mohammed had strongly opposed. Now Mohammed has emerged in charge of both domestic and much of Saudi foreign security to the great relief of the Obama administration.
On January 26, 2015, an Egyptian court handed a physician a two-year prison sentence with hard labor, a fine, and the closure of his clinic for one year. The ruling is the first of its kind since a law banned female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2008. The victim’s father also received a suspended imprisonment sentence. Moushira Khattab takes great pride in having been the initiator and chief engineer of this particular law, in a process which she considers ground-breaking. In this article she argues that only through education can a cultural paradigm shift put an end to such crimes.