The main obstacle to reform is the lack of any coherent central authority in Lebanon that has institutionalized decision-making mechanisms. The manner in which power is divided among the various sects results in de facto mini-states responsible for all the needs of their constituents, which leads to political and administrative paralysis.
The Lebanese political system, designed to ensure representation for a diverse population, makes it very difficult for one group to gain enough seats in parliament to govern effectively. Therefore, although Syria's withdrawal has restored Lebanon's sovereignty, it has also left a power vacuum that threatens the stability of the country.
Promoting the rule of law has become a major part of Western efforts to spread democracy and market economics around the world. Although programs to foster the rule of law abroad have mushroomed, well-grounded knowledge about what factors ensure success, and why, remains scarce.
The Egyptian political system has emerged sharply bipolar from recent parliamentary elections. While the ruling National Democratic Party won its expected victory, the performance of the Muslim Brotherhood surprised the NDP and the secular opposition forces. How will the Egyptian government react to the opposition’s success?
Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili reviewed the accomplishments of President Mikhail Saakashvili's government and outlined its program for 2006.
On December 13, Michele Dunne, editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin, presented a draft of her forthcoming Carnegie paper on political reform in Egypt. A roundtable discussion followed.