Middle East and North Africa Publications
Despite the ongoing conflict in Yemen, civil society organizations (CSOs) inside the country have significant capacity not only to mitigate the civil war but also to assist in rebuilding once the conflict is over. For historical reasons CSOs in Yemen have more space to monitor developments, advocate for greater accountability, and help the country grow and prosper..
Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been bombing Yemen relentlessly with critical American support for three months now—yet this air campaign has had little effect on their foes, the Iranian-backed Houthis who still control most of the country. The Arab coalition is facing the same dilemma as the United States in Iraq and Syria: what to do when overwhelming air power fails to achieve political objectives because of an acute deficit of local support to change the balance of power on the ground.
U.S. officials have been deluding themselves that they can fight ISIS in Iraq without cooperating with the Shi’a militias and Iran. The defeat in Ramadi proves them wrong. The goal of the new intervention in Iraq is to defeat ISIS. The United States needs to focus on that goal and work with the militias, or get out.
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.