In his Nile View column, Nabil Fahmy writes that a “cloud of concern and anticipation hangs over Egypt today.” Alas, you can say that about the entire Middle East. Seldom has the region as a whole been on such a knife’s edge. This issue of the Cairo Review focuses on Iran, where the election in June of Hassan Rowhani to become the country’s next president offers a new opportunity to break the diplomatic deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program. However, as former Rowhani aide Seyed Hossein Mousavian writes in “Five Options for Iran’s New President,” the danger of a military confrontation remains. In “Rowhani’s Challenge,” Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, cautions against the hope that the latest Iranian presidential election is a sign of meaningful democratic change.

Our Special Report on the Iran Dilemma contains a variety of other pieces: Nazila Fathi tracked down Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi for her take on the latest developments; Bijan Khajehpour, Reza Marashi, and Trita Parsi explain the problem with sanctions; Muhammad Sahimi deconstructs Iran’s nuclear program; Reza Sanati highlights the geopolitical struggle over Iran’s gas pipeline project; and Jonas Siegel and Saranaz Barforoush expose the flaws in Western media coverage of Iran. We’re grateful for the contributions of two authors—one Iranian, the other American—with particularly deep attachments to Iran: Abdulkarim Soroush, Iran’s leading philosopher, writes on democracy and Islam; and John Limbert, one of the U.S. diplomats once held hostage in Iran, makes a poignant case for a peaceful solution to the Iran crisis.

This issue also includes a Tahrir Forum section devoted to the crisis in Egypt, which deepened as we were going to press with the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi after Egypt’s second popular uprising in three years. AUC professors Tarek Selim, Laila El Baradei, and Ghada Barsoum explore the socioeconomic challenges threatening Egypt’s democratic transition. “Times have changed,” writes El Baradei, associate dean of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. “Global citizens have high expectations of their governments and have a right to a humane good quality of life. They also have a right to a government that tries to make them happy.”

Scott MacLeod
Managing Editor