The global aims of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb—an Algerian jihadi group—have been thwarted by the Algerian government’s more effective military strategy and the collapse of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Democratic transition continues to elude Arab countries and Arab republicanism has lost much of its meaning, as presidential power is increasingly being bequeathed from father to son.
The Obama administration must engage in a new type of dialogue with the Middle East, one modeled after the process used to improve relations with the Soviet bloc, if it wants to have any chance of impacting political reform in the region.
Rather than endlessly discussing ruling elites, opposition movements, and civil organizations from a reductionist framework centered on democracy and human rights, researchers must push their analysis outside the realm of conventional thinking.
While it is a positive development that a functional, democratic and pragmatic country like Turkey is playing a larger role in the Arab and Islamic world, it could also mean the beginning of a new round of confrontations if no progress is made in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Without dramatic improvement in the Arab world at all educational levels, unemployment, illiteracy, and income inequality will continue to worsen, and the region will remain a danger to itself and its neighbors.
Tunisia appears stable, but only because of systematic media censorship and a lack of information about human-rights violations. The international community would do a real service for the country if they encouraged true reform.
While Tunisian President Ben Ali’s reelection to a fifth term is a foregone conclusion, the international community must press him to institute real political change and move beyond a superficial illusion of pluralism.
Events of the last months in Algeria have shown that the less the state engages in dialogue with the street, the more the street will resort to violence and abandon the tools of voting and peaceful demonstrations.
Western governments must make educational aid a priority or they risk allowing extremist madrasas to win the hearts and minds of the Arab world.