Levant

  • A Balancing Act that Keeps Political Change at Bay in Jordan

    Rana Sabbagh-Gargour
    August 18, 2008

    For the sixth time this year, Human Rights Watch is questioning Jordan's commitment to abolish provisions in its penal code used solely to silence opposition figures. In November, Adnan Abu Odeh, former head of the Royal Court was investigated for allegedly insulting the king and inciting sectarian strife during televised remarks.

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  • How Weak is Hamas?

    Jarrett Blanc
    August 18, 2008

    Negotiations for a unity government between Fatah and Hamas are the fruit of international pressure, which has forced Hamas to consider sacrificing some of its formal authority within the Palestinian Authority (PA) despite the fact that the Islamic movement and its allies hold 77 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

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  • Time to Get Serious about Governance in Kurdistan

    Bilal Wahab
    August 18, 2008

    Virtually autonomous since 1992, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has followed an uneven path on the road to good governance. Six months have passed since the formation of the current united Kurdish cabinet. While Kurdistan has been increasingly stable and secure, its potential for accountability and clean government has yet to be fulfilled.

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  • Avenues for Reform after Lebanon's Devastation

    August 18, 2008

    The summer 2006 war between Hizbollah and Israel wreaked terrible destruction on Lebanon. It set Lebanon back years economically, costing roughly $7 billion, or 30 percent of GDP. At the same time, the war and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 have created new possibilities for advancing political reform.

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  • Iraq: U.S. Determination without Policy

    August 18, 2008

    The situation in Iraq is bleak and policy is adrift. Constant changes in the nature of the conflict have undermined all measures put in place by the Bush administration. While showing great determination to stay in Iraq until the country is stable, President Bush does not have a policy to address the country's multiple conflicts.

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  • Palestine: Social Impact of the Islamist-Secularist Struggle

    Mahdi Hadi
    August 18, 2008

    The changing political balance in Palestine —from domination by the secular nationalist Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to effective challenge for leadership by the Islamist Resistance Movement (Hamas)—can be seen not only at the ballot box, but also in the daily lives of Palestinians.

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  • The Triumph of Politics over Professionalism in the Arab World

    Moataz El Fegiery
    August 18, 2008

    Increasing calls for media independence are part of the new political reality in the Arab world; such calls have been particularly strong regarding media coverage of elections.

  • Reformist Islam: How Gray are the Gray Zones?

    Abdul Abul Futouh
    August 18, 2008

    Abdul Monem Abul Futouh, a member of the Guidance Bureau of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, offered his comments on “Islamist Movements and the Democratic Process in the Arab World: Exploring the Gray Zones,” by Nathan Brown, Amr Hamzawy, and Marina Ottaway (Carnegie Paper No. 67, March 2006).

  • Hypocrisy, Principles, and Reform in the Middle East

    Steven Cook
    August 18, 2008

    Observers have criticized the United States strongly for its unwillingness to recognize the Hamas government in Palestine, as well as for appearing to back away from supporting reform in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood's strong showing in 2005 elections.

  • Why Political Reform Does Not Progress in Jordan

    Fares Braizat
    August 18, 2008

    Since King Abdullah II’s accession to the throne in 1999, expectations for political reform and related debates in Jordan have intensified. In this period, five prime ministers have formed governments. In his letter of designation to successive prime ministers the king has demanded political reform. Despite the king's demands, there has been little progress.

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  • The Politics of Sunni Armed Groups in Iraq

    Muhammad Abu Rumman
    August 18, 2008

    Although there have been ideological and political struggles among armed Sunni factions in Iraq since the beginning of the occupation, they were kept quiet until recently.

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  • Scenarios for the Lebanese Presidential Election

    Sarkis Naoum
    August 18, 2008

    The Lebanese parliament is due to elect a new president for a six-year term during the sixty-day period beginning September 25. As is often the case with Lebanon, numerous domestic and foreign factors complicate what should be a straightforward political process.

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  • Security Services and the Crisis of Democratic Change in the Arab World

    August 18, 2008

    The lack of democratic breakthroughs worthy of mention in Arab countries has spurred debate about barriers to change. Much of this debate has focused on economic, social, and cultural factors, or on the fragility of political forces demanding democracy. The debate would be incomplete, however, without a discussion of the means by which the authoritarian Arab regimes control their societies.

  • Can the Unified Kurdistan Regional Government Work?

    Gareth Stansfield
    August 18, 2008

    After months of negotiations, Nechirvan Barzani announced the formation of a unified Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil on May 7, two weeks ahead of the announcement by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki that a government for Iraq had been formed. While the world's media remained focused on Baghdad, it largely overlooked the significance of the events in the capital of the Kurdistan region.

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  • Conflict with West Spurs Economic, not Political, Reform in Syria

    Joshua Landis
    August 18, 2008

    Political reform in Syria is not on. Last year's promises of a “great leap forward”—a rewritten emergency law, citizenship for stateless Kurds, and a new political party law before local elections in 2007—have been shelved.

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  • Rough Sledding for U.S. Party Aid Organizations in the Arab World

    Dina Bishara
    August 18, 2008

    Foreign democracy assistance organizations working directly with political parties have come into the line of fire as some Arab governments have pushed back against democratization initiatives over the past two years. In Algeria, Bahrain, and Egypt in particular, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) have been among the first to feel pressure.

  • A Look at the Economic Future in Palestine

    The Palestinian economy has been in an ever-deepening crisis since the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, a crisis rooted in and perpetuated by an extremely inauspicious political setting. The record of economic decline is staggering: domestic output and per capita income have plunged; poverty and unemployment have ballooned; private investment has plummeted.

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  • Life under Hamas Rule

    Taghreed El-Khodary
    August 14, 2008

    Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip on June 15, governance has barely functioned. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya in a November 4 speech expressed his dissatisfaction with the paralysis afflicting the executive, judicial, and legislative institutions, accusing the Ramallah government of responsibility.

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  • Governance since the Fatah-Hamas Split

    Charles Levinson
    August 14, 2008

    Shortly after the split between Fatah and Hamas in June 2007, Dianna Buttu, the astute young advisor to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said that watching the rival factions joust for control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) was like watching bald men fight over a comb.

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  • Palestinian Authority Reform: Role of the International Community

    Keir Prince
    August 14, 2008

    You are building your home. But you are having a problem with the architect, who keeps demolishing parts of the house. Sometimes he feels you did not follow the blueprints, sometimes he feels you used sub-standard materials, and sometimes, even though you are sure you followed all the instructions, he just does not like the way it turned out.

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