Middle East and North Africa Publications
Senior Scholar Marina Ottaway writes that ten years after the U.S. invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains a deeply troubled country, rent by internal dissensions and caught in the maelstrom of the increasingly sectarian politics of the region.
Tunisia’s transition to democracy, widely regarded as the most successful to emerge from the five uprisings that shook the Arab world in 2011, is being seriously threatened by violence in the wake of a prominent leftist politician’s assassination in early February. The killing of Chokri Belaid has not only triggered a showdown within the ruling Islamic Ennahda Party between its moderate and fundamentalist wings but also deepened the hostility between secularists and Islamists within Tunisian society.
Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Kennan Institute Occasional Paper Series #105, 1980. PDF 15 pages.
The uprisings that have swept across the Middle East and North Africa region have unleashed new or reenergized existing movements expressing deep dissatisfaction with the status quo. Popular demands for change have ranged from the clearly political to the strictly economic. Economic crises, unreformed security sectors, and corruption continue periodically to draw people into the streets to reassert the power that forced initial regime changes two years ago. Brand examines developments in Egypt and Jordan to explore both the forms of greater mass participation and their implications for regional foreign policy.
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.
The Rabat Conference in November 2012 was hosted by the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior in partnership with the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Wellesley Centers for Women with support from Lynn and Bob Johnston. UN Women, UNDP, and the International Republican Institute provided valuable collaboration. Through this compilation of papers based on discussions at the conference, we celebrate the call for women’s centrality in the constitutional making processes and the negotiation processes involved in strengthening the rule of law in the MENA region.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2013, 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 challenges women face to their security. This publication, “Challenges to Women’s Security in the MENA Region” includes pieces from 42 women from 20 countries including the United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, and countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region shared with us their concerns, disappointments, and hopes for women.
Some call it the Islamist winter while others talk of revolution betrayed. Neither claim portrays accurately what is happening in Arab countries in the throes of popular uprisings and rapid political change. The rise of Islamist parties in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings took most by surprise, including in some cases the Islamist parties themselves, which were more successful than they dared to hope. Coupled with the disarray of the secular opposition, the success of Islamist parties augurs poorly for democracy, because a strong, competitive opposition is the only guarantee against the emergence of a new authoritarianism.
The Syrian refugee issue in Lebanon is threatening to become the real humanitarian crisis in the region. There are more Syrian refugees in Lebanon than in any other country in the region. Straddled by a weak economy, domestic political infighting, and internal divisions over the crisis in Syria, Lebanon is finding it hard to cope with the evolving problem inside its borders. In the absence of a quick and sustained international support, the refugee issue in Lebanon could become a full blown crisis with domestic and regional implications for Lebanon.
The complexity of Arab attitudes toward Iran before and after the start of the Arab uprisings is reflected not only in the gap of perception between the Arab people and Arab governments, but also in important differences on Iran across those governments. Even among Arab governments most threatened by Iran and most inclined to see it weakened, their sense of threat and how to address it differs substantially from Israel’s sense of threat.