Middle East and North Africa Publications
The Wilson Center's new Regional and Global Energy Series addresses the growing debate on international energy issues in their security, political, economic, and environmental dimensions.
King Abdullah, who died January 23 after a 10-year-long reign, was truly beloved by his people and the most highly respected leader of the Arab world. He started out as a reformer, propelling women into the all-male world of Saudi politics and sending over 100,000 Saudis abroad for higher education in hopes of speeding up the modernization of his ultra-conservative kingdom. But the Arab Spring brought an abrupt halt to the reform process and triggered a severe crackdown on all human and political rights activists.
The Middle East Program would like to share a special edition of our Viewpoints series, "What Next for Iran and the P5+1." Thirty-two experts from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, including many former Wilson Center scholars and fellows, have contributed to this special edition.
Tehran has had a longstanding alliance with Damascus since 1979, and its relations with Baghdad have steadily improved subsequent to the ouster of Saddam Hussein. This has resulted in close ties between Iran and these two key Arab states. However, this has all been called into question with the eruption of the Syrian revolt, and the recent rise of ISIS and its challenge to the Iraqi state. This article provides an overview of the conditions in Syria and Iraq which facilitated the rise of ISIS, and explains what is at stake for Iran, particularly in the case of Iraq.
The Tunisian parliamentary election that took place on October 26 has been widely hailed as a rare and heartening success story. It was a moment of bloodless democratic transition in a broader Middle East that appears to be crumbling daily into anarchy, from the lawless militia zone of Libya to the killing grounds of Syria and Iraq. The election went off peacefully, without accusations of fraud, and even the principal losing party—the Tunisian Islamist group known as Ennahda—held a celebration to honor the event as a “victory for all Tunisians.”
Since the revolution that led to the end of the Ben Ali regime in January 2011, Tunisian women have obtained political parity and participated, for the first time, in the writing of the country’s new constitution. With just a few weeks remaining until new elections that will determine the country’s political orientation over the next five years, a look at the experiences of women who have been involved in formal politics can help us understand the political culture of a society in the process of a democratic transition.
Military action in Iraq and Syria is moving ahead without a political strategy to accompany it. Although the administration argues that defeating ISIL requires the formation of inclusive governments, neither Iraq nor Syria has such government. The absence of a real political strategy will undermine any military success.
After three years of constant discord, relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have taken a definite turn for the better as they team up to lead a coalition of Arab and Western nations in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But the two old partners have different goals and immediate concerns that could come to test once again their long-time tangled relationship.
In the quick move to resolve the nuclear issue, Rouhani’s calculation was that navigating Iran’s highly contentious domestic environment will become easier with the resolution of Iran’s external issues first. Without a nuclear agreement in hand, his platform of “moderation and prudence” will become more difficult to pursue and implement, but not impossible.
For this issue of Viewpoints, the Middle East Program reached out to a number of its regular contributors and invited them to share with us their thoughts and concerns on the treatment of women and girls by ISIS.