A year after the June 2009 controversial presidential elections in Iran, domestic discontent continues to simmer and the Iranian regime faces a new round of international economic sanctions.
The Middle East is in a state of heightened tension following Israel’s armed attack on a flotilla of humanitarian aid. If nations in the region are determined to provoke a war, little can be done to prevent conflict from escalating.
Turkey is one of the most economically and politically powerful states in the Middle East and it has recently been taking steps to fill the leadership vacuum that exists in the region.
The attack on the flotilla headed for Gaza was not only a political catastrophe for the Israelis; it also underscored the tragedy of the situation in Gaza and the need for substantive progress to be made in the peace process.
Turkey is strongly condemning Israel for the attack Monday on a six-ship flotilla taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The attack has dealt a very public setback to Israeli-Turkish relations, which have been slowly deteriorating for several years.
President Mubarak has neither a vice president nor an established successor, and his increasing health problems are causing many Egyptians to fear that his illness or death could create a power vacuum that would threaten the stability of Egypt and the entire region.
Mohammed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Association, has injected a new dynamism into the Egyptian political scene, but he is unlikely to be able to mobilize enough people to effect any real change in Egypt.
The most serious development of the Iranian protests has been the challenges to Ayatollah Khamenei, which are unprecedented and open up new questions about the potential for real, significant constitutional change.
The failed attack on a U.S. airliner thirteen days ago thrust President Obama and his administration into the center of an intensified focus on domestic security. The president’s response to this new crisis has been generally strong as he balances several significant domestic challenges at the same time.
The resurgence of al-Qaeda in Yemen and around the world demands a comprehensive counterterrorism approach. In order to combat al-Qaeda and similar groups, the international community must focus on capacity building in weak states and de-radicalization programs.
The presence of Al-Qaeda in Yemen is only one of many security and economic challenges facing the country. International aid must be comprehensive in nature and empower the Yemenis to build their own capacity, in order to combat these challenges.
As the security situation in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan has improved, al-Qaeda has been forced to seek out new safe havens in places like the ungoverned parts of the Yemeni countryside.
Protests in Iran over the past few days have shown the breadth, determination, and sustainability of the opposition movement, with demonstrations not only in Tehran but throughout the country.
It remains to be seen how the Obama administration’s efforts at engagement with Iran will affect the domestic situation, as tensions grow between the opposition leadership’s calls for reform and the movement’s younger members, who are looking for a more fundamental change.
A year of attempts by U.S. officials to engage with Iran has not yet yielded any change in Iran’s nuclear position, but it has succeeded in demonstrating to both the Iranian people and the international community that the problem lies in Tehran, not in Washington.