The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in partnership with Wilton Park, held a conference October 6-8, 2006 on the challenges of top-down, managed reform efforts in Arab countries. Discussion focused on how reformers within or close to ruling establishments view prospects for reform inside their countries as well as the impact of pressure for change coming from outside.
The Lebanon war was a war without winners. Trends indicate that if anything, the changes that are taking place are going in the wrong direction. This was a conflict where none of the participants achieved their objectives. The Carnegie Endowment, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, hosted Marina Ottoway, Volker Perthes, and Amr Hamzawy to discuss implications of the Lebanon War.
Iran has said no to the U.N. Security Council's legally binding demand that Tehran suspend enrichment of uranium, as a first step toward resuming negotiations over the future course of its nuclear-energy program and broader relations with the West. It's now time for the U.S. to quietly rally Europe, the Middle East and Asia to develop plans for containing and deterring a nuclear-armed Iran.
The administration's refusal to talk to Syria and Iran reflects a view of diplomacy that is at odds with the practice of most other countries and of other American administrations. If countries are directly at war, diplomatic relations are out of the question. But most countries conceive of diplomacy as a means of resolving conflicts with adversaries short of war.
the Israeli military operations increased Hizbollah's in Lebanon and the region, but has been weakened through casualties and exhausted weapons stockpiles.
Even though many Lebanese people and several Arab governments criticized Hezbollah for instigating the crisis with Israel, the Israeli air attacks -- including the killing of many civilians -- have now quieted the criticism, and in fact have worsened the already poor standing of the United States in the Arab world.
Given the last two weeks in the Middle East — client entities like Hizbollah provoking a conflict, the Saudis and Egyptians speaking without power from the sidelines, Western uncertainty about the role of Syria and Iran — is it possible to draw a new map of the Middle East?
This is a dangerous moment for the Middle East, because the conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon could easily escalate to involve the broader region. Any strategy to address the present crisis must deal with the realities of the Middle East as they are now, not try to leapfrog over them by seeking to impose a grand new vision. Such a vision would be bound to fail as it did in the case of Iraq.
Over the last few decades most, if not all, Arab-Israeli crises have occurred when the United States has been either unable or unwilling to play an aggressive role as a mediator; and most have only abated after the United States has finally thrown itself into the middle of them.
The regime of Bashar al-Asad is under pressure from Syrian citizens who want a different political system and from the United States, which wants Syria to change its regional policy. As a result, it is impossible to separate completely a domestic process of political reform from the external pressures.