The Obama administration can find a positive new way forward on democracy promotion by changing how the United States supports democracy abroad rather than what emphasis to place on it relative to other interests.
Barack Obama's election was celebrated throughout the Middle East. But enthusiasm could quickly turn to hostility if the new administration does not back up its rhetoric with concrete changes to U.S. Middle East policy on three key issues: Palestine, Iraq, and political reform.
The possibility of peace between Syria and Israel in 2009 is a serious one. Both countries have a strategic interest in peace, and have been pursuing indirect negotiations under Turkish auspices for a year.
President-elect Obama emphasizes the need for greater diplomacy and a willingness to engage with hostile regimes. This commitment to “return to diplomacy” will not be enough to end the deadlock in the Middle East. Obama should break from traditional U.S. posture and support peace initiatives originating with Arab countries.
An Israeli–Syrian peace deal is a real possibility and would have a positive effect on the Middle East and U.S. interests there. But the two sides will not reach an agreement without U.S. leadership. The incoming administration should use a balance of pressure, incentives, and robust diplomacy to make the agreement a reality.
Amid the overwhelming popular enthusiasm and unprecedented media coverage in the Arab world that accompanied the 2008 U.S. presidential elections, the Carnegie Middle East Center provided an open forum for distinguished Arab observers to share their thoughts on future American policies in the Middle East.
Islamist women, increasingly restless with their subordinate status in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, are pushing for greater representation and a wider role. Their call for broader participation in decision-making bodies are not signs of a “rebellion of the Sisters,” but part of the normal dynamics of change.
Since the civil war of the 1990s, Algeria’s government has given moderate Islamist parties only a superficial role in politics. The resulting rise of Salafism, which rejects the country’s political system, reveals the need for Algeria to increase political transparency and participation and engage its citizens to discourage radicalization outside the political system.
The financial interdependence that sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) created between the West and the Arab world could help stabilize multilateral relations and promote economic development and political stability in the Middle East.
Free trade agreements between the West (U.S. and EU) and Middle East and North African (MENA) countries, while containing beneficial elements, have strengthened negative perceptions of “western-led globalization” because they benefit unpopular elites and impose serious short term economic adjustment.
Arab governments tempered public anger at rising food prices by increasing wages and subsidies, but their approach is not sustainable without raising taxes. Instead they should revise agricultural policies, expand social safety nets, and curb excessive energy consumption, argues Carnegie Middle East Center economist Ibrahim Saif.
The role of Sovereign Wealth Funds, large state-owned investment vehicles, in the global financial architecture is beginning to top the political agenda in Europe and the United States. Europeans and Americans have voiced their concerns about the economic and political influence that foreign governments could exercise through their SWFs.
There is perhaps no leader in the world more important to current world affairs but less known and understood than Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. In a unique and timely new study Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour presents an in-depth political profile of Khamenei based on a careful reading of three decades' worth of his writings and speeches.
Despite Algeria’s recent economic growth and domestic stability, the government’s refusal to address the legacy of its violent civil war threatens its long-term stability. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to push forward his “Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation” without public input or dialogue has undermined the prospect for true reconciliation.
France sees the ascent of Anglo-American influence as having advanced at its expense not only in Iraq, but also in North Africa, a zone long considered to be France’s backyard.
Confrontational U.S. policy that tried to create a “New Middle East,” but ignored the realities of the region has instead exacerbated existing conflicts and created new problems. To restore its credibility and promote positive transformation, the United States needs to abandon the illusion that it can reshape the region to suit its interests.
Recent economic growth and stabilization in Egypt has been largely fueled by external factors which may not be sustainable. During the same period, Egypt has failed to address pressing social and economic challenges, according to a new paper from the Carnegie Endowment.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II has stated that economic reform is one of his top priorities, yet it remains hindered by two major obstacles: a lack of public support, and the government’s inability to implement deep reform.
Kuwait has made exemplary strides towards democratic reform over the last two years, but deep tensions between the ruling Al Sabah family and the parliament, as well as fractures within the political opposition, could hinder future progress, according to a new paper from the Carnegie Endowment.
Women’s participation in Islamist movements reflects a growing trend toward women’s activism in the Arab world, though quite different from Western norms.