Arab governments largely ignored the July 2009 Arab Human Development report, as they have with previous editions, but the reports have had a significant impact on civil society and opposition thinking in the region.
Yemen faces an escalating threat from rebellions in both the north and south of the country, as well as from al-Qaeda, calling into question whether a unified state has ever really taken root.
President-elect Obama’s administration must not give any inkling that Iraq is becoming less important to Washington if it wants to shore up real but fragile gains in Iraqi stability.
Not since the Iranian revolution has the issue of Shiite political development been of such interest to observers of Middle Eastern politics.
Ten days of raucous student demonstrations across Iran in June prompted fresh predictions of the Iranian regime's imminent demise. But by July, regime hardliners had regained the upper hand by arresting some four thousand people. This summer's back-and-forth is yet another indication that in Iran a highly contentious but gradual process of political change is more likely than revolution.
Since taking power in 1999, the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has engaged in a vast program of reforms aimed at transforming his country from an emirate into a constitutional monarchy in which the Al Khalifa family's supremacy would be balanced by an elected parliament.
Morocco's King Muhammad VI, who ascended the throne in 1999 following the death of his father, King Hassan II, is moving ahead with reforms in some areas such as women's rights. But he maintains an ambivalent, sometimes hostile attitude toward the country's new independent press.
While satellite television often attracts the lion's share of analysis about new media and their effect on prospects for democratization in the Middle East and North Africa, another technology may already have had at least as large an impact: the Internet.