Middle East and North Africa Publications
The election of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the presidency brings Egypt one step closer to the full implementation of the transitional road map. The last step, the holding of parliamentary elections, is also on schedule. Yet Egypt is not getting closer to democracy. The lopsided result of the presidential elections, with 96.91 of the votes going to al-Sisi, is not a sign of healthy pluralism. The draft of the new parliamentary election law will further hamper pluralism and it will promote fragmentation by reserving about 70 percent of parliamentary seats for independent candidates.
Ottaway writes that three years after the beginning of the Arab uprisings, Tunisia and Egypt are moving in different directions. Tunisia is moving in a democratic direction because well-established political and civil society organizations counterbalance each other, forcing compromise. In Egypt, politics pitted the Muslim Brotherhood against the military and other state institution, inevitably leading to the triumph of the state. A new process of democratization is unlikely to start without other uprisings.
On March 26, 2014, the Middle East Program convened the second of three meetings on Iran under President Hassan Rouhani, this time exploring possible trends and developments in the next five years under the Rouhani presidency. This publication brings together the papers presented at our second meeting in the current series.
Despite a spiraling crisis in Ukraine and discontent in Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Iranian nuclear talks have hit their stride. At a meeting in March in Vienna, Iran and six major powers talked through the nitty-gritty of intractable issues, even if both sides made clear that it was too early to expect any breakthroughs.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2014, 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, “MENA Women: Opportunities and Obstacles in 2014” includes pieces from 44 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.
Iraqis are heading to the polls at the end of April. More important than the results of these elections are fundamental issues confronting the country such as the economy's utter reliance on oil, the prevalence of corruption in every sector, and the deepening sectarianism that is impacting political and economic decisions.
The Middle East Program and the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Wilson Center hosted a two-panel discussion on “MENA Women in the Reformist Process: A Retrospective,” the first of which focused on women’s political participation and the second focusing on economic reforms and social change.
Track-Two Diplomacy toward an Israeli-Palestinian Solution, 1978–2014 is an important insider account of a crucial set of negotiations aimed at settling a seemingly endless conflict.
Iran marked the 35th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution on February 11. Shaul Bakhash, who witnessed the revolution first-hand, reflects on the revolution’s tumultuous birth and its legacy and how it differed from the still-born revolution in Egypt during the Arab Spring.
The Egyptian referendum was not about the content of the constitution, but about the popularity of the military. Thus, it is not the first step toward democracy in Egypt. The United States has nothing to gain by embracing this regime. It should not condemn it, preach to it, or try to change it, because it would not work. But it should not go to the opposite extreme of praising it for leading the country to democracy. Rather, it should keep its neutrality and its distance.