These groups did not just suddenly appear in the past three years of the war in Syria; rather, they have been incubating slowly for a much longer period of time because of the slow deterioration in conditions in various Arab countries during the past quarter century or so.
Tunisia was the first Arab country ever to draft its own constitution, which came into force in 1861, and fittingly it is now the first Arab country to draw up a really meaningful and legitimate constitution after a popular revolution that removed a long-serving autocratic government.
After a round of talks between the regime and the opposition, little has been resolved. The Al-Assad regime has no incentive to enter these negotiations with any seriousness; the opposition has no meaningful or effective leverage to convince the key actors to bring significant pressure to bear on the regime.
The widespread anticipation among what seems like just 27 people in the United States who follow the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations is that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will soon table a set of American positions or proposals for the key elements of a “framework agreement” that would define the next phase of the permanent status talks and extend them beyond the April deadline.
The Arab American National Museum is hosting an exhibition on art and protest in the Arab world, “Creative Dissent: Arts of the Arab World Uprisings.” Scholars Christine Gruber and Nama Khalil have curated a powerful array of snapshots from Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
It is fitting that Egyptian armed forces commander Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Sisi has decided to assume the presidency of his country, because two of the three main problems that Egypt faces are a consequence of his own decisions during the past year.
Now that the Arab League has decided to ask the UN Security Council to back its plan to resolve the crisis in Syria, the prospects of international involvement in Syria inch forward just a bit more. This adds a new dimension to the already fertile debate on how the mounting violence and expanding political crisis in Syria will end. In the past several months, I have heard dozens of suggested scenarios. Some are plausible, others are fantastic, but all are suggested seriously by usually knowledgeable observers and analysts, and they go something like this.
Tunisia’s struggle to agree on a constitution that satisfies both the conservative-liberal majority and the liberal opposition is giving way to consensus in many critical aspects of the new constitution.
The most fascinating thing I saw in Cairo was the range of graffiti scrawled across walls, advertising billboards, street signs, flower pots, park benches and any other surface that allowed Egyptians to express their political sentiments.
In Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, “constructive ambiguity” has succeeded only in producing confusion and eroding trust between the parties. If U.S. officials hope to salvage what prospects remain for a two-state solution, they should be prepared to paint a clear picture of the endgame.
Based on statements from the Ministry of Transitional Justice and Reconciliation, the current government’s approach to transitional justice will likely be highly skewed, exclusionary, and directed at one faction.
Many people in the Middle East and abroad are rightly concerned about the rise and impact of hardline Salafist-takfiri fundamentalist Islamist groups that have recently proliferated and controlled territory in Iraq and Syria.
The approval of the constitutional referendum is a foregone conclusion, and the result is likely to resolve little. Indeed, the constitution and the referendum are more likely to exacerbate tensions and divisions in Egyptian politics than to form part of a democratic transition.