What inspired the political enthusiasm for Obama, especially among the youth? In order to understand Obama’s rise to power, we have to view it in two contexts. The first?the disastrous policies of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The second context is the resurrection of the centrist liberal trend in the Democratic Party.
Despite the deadlock in negotiations and the growing influence of Iran in the Middle East, moderate Arab states still believe in the viability of a just and comprehensive peace with Israel. They hope that the Obama administration will move swiftly to resume its role as an impartial mediator in and active advocate of negotiations toward a two-state solution.
The Obama administration’s first mission in the Middle East centers around effectively resolving the set of grave challenges created by the outgoing administration’s flawed policies. These include the Iraqi crisis and Iranian influence in Iraq. Most importantly, the U.S. has to take serious and effective steps to resolve the traditional issues; mainly the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.
On the heels of their landslide victory in the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will face major challenges, particularly in the Middle East, which will test the President-elect’s ability to bypass his predecessor’s disastrous policies, the worst the region has ever seen.
On October 12 the Central Committee of the CCP approved “Decisions on Major Issues Concerning the Advancement of Rural Reform and Development”. The proposed legislation would give farmers more control to rent and sell their land. It represents a significant effort by the CCP to curb local corruption, increase food security, as well as reduce the inequality between urban and rural China.
China’s just-announced nearly $600 billion stimulus package is almost certainly overkill for China’s needs—China’s domestic demand expansion this year is too strong to warrant this much money spent any time soon. But the stimulus announcement is just in time to give a needed lesson to the U.S. government about what an effective stimulus package might look like.
As Secretary of State Rice travels to the Middle East this week for another round of negotiations in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, deep divisions and institutional decay on the Palestinian side remain the most daunting obstacles to peace. Ongoing Palestinian unity talks brokered by Egypt have little chance of success without a significant international push, concludes Nathan J. Brown.
The next U.S. administration should commit greater leadership time to developing a more considered and engaged Asian policy that begins with a call for a new multilateral organization in East Asia.
The United States should use its limited but growing influence in Libya to support growth in non-governmental sectors rather than implicitly endorsing the regime’s status quo, urges a new commentary on the eve of Secretary Rice’s visit to Libya. The regime remains opaque, unpredictable, and, buoyed by its petroleum wealth, is increasingly assertive in international negotiations.
The bloodless military coup that overthrew Mauritania’s democratic government poses challenges for U.S. policy in the region. Washington can encourage the military to move toward elections by leveraging its military assistance and humanitarian and institutional capacity-building programs.
None of the Central Asian leaders like the idea of Russian hegemony, but the risk of anarchy and war in the border regions of Russia frighten them even more. They might not like the idea of Moscow as regional policeman, but in the absence of a viable alternative, they might swallow it more easily if Moscow turns into an effective one.
Turkey narrowly avoided an unprecedented constitutional crisis on Wednesday when its Constitutional Court refrained from banning the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). In a new commentary, Henri Barkey offers an analysis of court’s decision, outlines the history of the AKP, and assesses the impact of the crisis on Turkey’s political future.
Despite the collapse of the Doha trade talks this week, the global food crisis is creating the basis for longer term progress on a new agricultural trade regime. Key differences over agriculture as well as manufacturing and services trade seemingly stymied a final deal, but progress on farm talks bodes well for an eventual pact that better reflects the needs of developing countries and the poor.
A presidential election in Palestine will not take place until Fatah and Hamas reach consensus—and Israel permits it—resulting in a deadlock with no clear path toward political reconciliation. In a question and answer guide, Nathan Brown offers an analysis of Palestinian law and the core disagreements between the Palestinian factions that cast doubt on President Mahmud Abbas’s political future.
Arab governments tempered public anger at rising food prices by increasing wages and subsidies, but their approach is not sustainable without raising taxes. Instead they should revise agricultural policies, expand social safety nets, and curb excessive energy consumption, argues Carnegie Middle East Center economist Ibrahim Saif.
The simultaneous announcement of an agreement between government and opposition in Lebanon and of the start of indirect talks between Israel and Syria in Turkey might be the best news to come out of that troubled region for a long time. While the United States favored neither position, these two developments may have a positive influence on the region.
Kuwait’s May 2008 elections dealt a setback to the local affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Constitutional Movement (HADAS) rewarding more rigid salafi Islamists and tribal candidates. The new parliament is likely to be less cohesive, and the result will be a deepening political deadlock between the government and the parliament in the Gulf’s most democratic political order.
Lebanon’s prolonged political crisis erupted in violence last week following the dismissal by the Lebanese government of an official close to Hizbollah and the launch an investigation into the organization’s telecommunications network. Contrary to a similar escalation in December 2006, Iran has not interceded to halt the violence.
Kuwait's parliamentary election on May 17 is more likely to continue political stalemate than move the country toward much needed political and economic reforms. Tensions between the ruling family and parliament may have serious implications for democracy promotion in the broader Middle East as other countries in the region begin to see Kuwait as a negative model of what democracy can bring.
The common idea that every regional contest is succinctly played out in Lebanon is false. The Middle East is not a struggle between two invincible powers. It is rather a scene in which a troubled superpower and a hobbled regional power try to find their bearings in passageways cluttered with various Arab and non-Arab agendas.