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.
The longevity and lasting impact of current changes and turbulence across the Middle East are hard to define today. This is because some developments are dramatic and very consequential in the short run—like Islamists winning free elections or Salafist-takfiris controlling areas in Syria—but may not have lasting impact in a year or two.
As Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki prepares to make a third run in the Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections, daunting challenges appear ahead. More than ever, Maliki stands as a dividing figure in Iraqi politics—his opponents are numerous and diverse, but the strongest opposition, political and religious, comes from within his Shia community.
A railroad crossing is not simply a place, but a mentality that has permeated into the Egyptian national psyche. This mentality has a number of components that not only explain train wrecks, but also illustrate a common denominator in the way in which we confront issues of national importance.
Only under a system of accountability, efficiency, and equality will Egypt be able to move forward with its transition. But the demands for transitional justice have consistently been framed in very broad terms, without a clear detailed vision of how they would be applied in Egypt’s specific situation.
We seem to have entered that inevitable moment when the United States would stop trying to be a low-key and totally ineffective mediator between Israelis and Palestinians, and instead play a more decisive role by offering its own proposals on a permanent peace agreement.
When the fruit and vegetables peddler Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in the rural Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on December 17, 2010, his spontaneous act comprised a combination of protest, self-assertion and defiance that resonated instantly and widely across the entire Arab world.
The UN Mission in Western Sahara is halfway through its extended mandate, which stands to be renewed again in UN Security Council discussions in April 2014. Meanwhile, Algerian diplomatic efforts have successfully cornered Rabat on the thorny issue of human rights.
There are so many troubling signs of dysfunctional political life in the Arab world that it is refreshing to note three simultaneous developments this week that give us more hope for a stable, normal future.
In the wake of the January 25 revolution, the Egyptian political scene has undoubtedly been exclusionary to Egyptian women. The biggest surprise has been the continuation of this stance under the secular current’s guidance.
The draft constitution submitted to Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, on December 2 settles a few important matters—it enhances the status of the state institutions that banded together against the Muslim Brotherhood, including the military, judiciary, and police. But it leaves other equally important questions unanswered. The sequencing, system, and timing for presidential and parliamentary elections remain unclear, for example, issues that are particularly fraught because Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who removed Mohammed Morsi from power in July, might run for president.
We will know in the coming months whether the current “second chance” roadmap to constitutional reform in Egypt achieves that transition to democratic legitimacy that was mismanaged in the two years after the overthrow of the Hosni Mubarak regime.