If Iraq can overcome the many risks and challenges that lie ahead of it and emerge as a stable democratic nation, it could become an engine for change in the Arab and Muslim world.
The economic outlook for the Gulf Cooperation Council remains encouraging, but the crisis has revealed financial sector vulnerabilities that need to be addressed in order to limit future disruptions of economic growth.
Confronted with structural weaknesses, external shocks, and the Ahmadinejad administration's gross mismanagement of the economy, Iran is facing its bleakest economic prospects in nearly two decades.
The formal process that leads from the elections to the formation of a new government in Iraq is extremely complicated and bound to take time, even without taking into consideration the difficulty of forming viable political alliances.
Despite the new political ferment in Egypt, engendered by the return of retired IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei, major obstacles remain to the emergence of an opposition strong enough to compete seriously for parliamentary seats and for the presidency.
There are limits to how much foreign intervention can accomplish in Yemen. To overcome its daunting security, economic, and political challenges, Yemen’s political system needs to become less centralized and more inclusive.
The announcement of new construction in East Jerusalem that interrupted U.S. Vice President Biden’s trip to Israel to reinvigorate peace negotiations reflects the strained relations between Israel and the United States and how much remains to be done before Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can lead to real progress.
In an increasingly interconnected world, the collapse of one society has immediate economic, political and security repercussions on societies around it. Preventing such collapses requires a global development strategy that reflects the key challenges of the new century, including resource scarcity.
By scaling back its political engagement to focus on a traditional religious, educational, and social agenda, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is leaving behind an even greater lack of political competition in the country.
Al-Qaeda is not the only factor threatening Yemen’s stability. Water shortages, collapsing oil supplies, war, refugees, pirates, and poverty all put the country at risk of becoming a failed state.
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.
Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary election will not bring about any decisive changes. Elections do not cause significant power shifts; they can only reflect the power shifts that have already taken place.
Iraq’s election campaign is marked by the usual mixture of unrealistic promises, verbal attacks against competitors, and attempts by parties to appropriate symbols that do not properly belong to any one faction, as well as, more worryingly, the certainty voiced by all alliances that the elections will be marred by fraud.
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.
Iraqis head to the polls on Sunday for what is considered a fundamental test of the fledgling democracy. While the results of the parliamentary elections will help determine Iraq’s stability and may influence the drawdown of U.S. forces, the voting is only one step in the country’s political transition.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Russia had recovered from its domestic crisis, and so had its global ambitions. While Moscow’s principal interests still lie mostly toward the West, the Middle East is back on Moscow’s radar screen and Russia’s withdrawal from the region has been reversed.
Due to the deep divisions among the likely winners in the elections, the Shi’i parties, the March 7 elections will just be the first step in determining the distribution of power in the Iraqi political system.
Over the next year, Egypt will hold three important elections, none of which stand any chance of redistributing power in the country. Egypt needs long-term democratic reforms, and the United States can play an effective role in promoting those reforms.
For the Kurds, the forthcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections are a litmus test for the viability of the power-sharing agreement between the various political, ethnic, and religious groups in the Kurdistan region.
Mohamed ElBaradei has an opportunity to help Egyptians achieve a more democratic government. To succeed, he must do three things: remind Egypt that democracy requires an engaged citizenry, call on the opposition to formulate well-defined political programs, and move back to Egypt so that he can engage directly with its citizens.