Levant

  • The Middle East Partnership Initiative: Supporting Voices of Change

    Elizabeth Cheney
    August 25, 2008

    Amy Hawthorne's article in the September 2003 Arab Reform Bulletin, "The Middle East Partnership Initiative: Questions Abound," is a welcome recognition of President Bush's commitment to reform across the Arab world.

  • Drafting Islam Into the Iraqi Constitution

    August 25, 2008

    On July 15, 2003, the American administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, finally articulated a clear benchmark for ending the Coalition Provisional Authority's administration of Iraq: the governing council's promulgation of a democratic constitution and the subsequent holding of national elections. Bremer has said he expects the constitution writing process to take about six to eight months.

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  • Linking Free Trade and Democracy: The European Union's Experience in the Middle East

    Richard Youngs
    August 25, 2008

    With President Bush's May 2003 announcement that the United States will work to create a US-Middle East free trade zone by 2013, the White House has given free trade a leading role in its strategy for the economic and political transformation of the Arab world. As President Bush declared, "Free markets will defeat poverty and promote the habits of liberty."

  • Political Trends among Iraqi Shiites

    Abbas Kadhim
    August 25, 2008

    Since the collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Shiites of Iraq have come to the forefront of the debate among Western and Arab intellectuals and politicians. A clear majority of more than 60 percent of the population, the Shiites of Iraq have never held a majority or even a powerful minority status in Iraqi politics since the establishment of modern Iraq eight decades ago.

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  • Intense Wrangling Precedes Palestinian Elections

    On July 17, 2005, Palestinians are scheduled to elect a new parliament. The stakes are enormously high, especially as groups that sat out the 1996 parliamentary election—notably Hamas but also smaller factions—will field candidates. Various parties have been squabbling over the electoral rules.

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  • Democracy at a Dead End in Jordan

    Shadi Hamid
    August 25, 2008

    In a March 15th interview, ABC's Peter Jennings asked King Abdullah II if Jordan would ever become a constitutional monarchy. “Absolutely,” the king said. When Abdullah came to power in 1999, there was widespread speculation that this young, charismatic Sandhurst and Georgetown-educated leader—and other young monarchs in the region—would be willing to embark on reforms and gradually share power.

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  • Barcelona Now More than Ever

    Álvaro Vasconcelos
    August 25, 2008

    Ten years after the 1995 signature of the Barcelona Declaration (which established a European-Mediterranean partnership for peace, stability, prosperity, human development, and cultural exchange), Mediterranean issues are at the heart of the international agenda. Despite the continued relevance of the Barcelona process, its effectiveness has been rather harshly assessed.

  • Democracy and the Palestine Issue: A Lesson from Tunisia

    Khaled Hroub
    August 25, 2008

    Tunisians took to the streets in February protesting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's scheduled visit to their country in November 2005 to attend the World Information Summit. Inviting Sharon, seen as a war criminal by many Tunisians and other Arabs, was an undemocratic decision by the Tunisian regime exercised against the popular will of the Tunisian people.

  • Lebanese Elections Endangered

    Walid Choucair
    August 25, 2008

    With the departure of Syrian troops from northern Lebanon and the approaching withdrawal from the rest of the country by April 27, the electoral balance of power in Lebanon has radically changed in advance of elections scheduled to be held by May 31.

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  • Iraq's Long Road to a Government

    Musab Alkateeb
    August 25, 2008

    Ten weeks after the January 30 elections, Iraqis have chosen a Kurdish president, Shiite and Sunni vice presidents, a Sunni speaker and Shiite deputy speaker of parliament, and now a Shiite prime minister. Why has it taken so long to form the new government?

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  • Arab States: Corruption and Reform

    Sufyan Alissa
    August 23, 2008

    Are economic and political reforms an effective way to combat corruption, or do changes such as privatizing state industries actually increase opportunities for corruption? There is not a single answer to the question, but a closer look at the types of corruption

  • Democracy in Post-Islamist Societies: Liberalism by Default?

    Abdelwahab El-Affendi
    August 22, 2008

    Since his release from prison late last year, the prominent Sudanese Islamist and former Speaker of Parliament Hassan Turabi has been busy preaching democracy as the best possible system for Muslim countries. Many might consider Turabi's ardent espousal of democracy highly suspect, given his repressive record during the decade when he was Sudan's de facto ruler (1989-1999).

  • Syria: Elections without Politics

    Apart from some posters and banners scattered across the streets of Damascus announcing elections on April 22-23, there are few signs in Syria of the sort of election fever seen in some Arab countries recently.Electoral platforms addressing real issues are conspicuously absent.

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  • The Fate of CPA Orders in Iraq after June 30

    When the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) dissolves on June 30, it will leave behind a series of enactments designed to remake significant parts of the Iraqi legal order. While the juridical and political basis for the CPA's enactments is shaky, any succeeding Iraqi authority is likely to hesitate before repealing them wholesale.

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  • Reform in Syria: Waiting for the Wrong Time

    Bassam Haddad
    August 22, 2008

    Those anticipating the imminent (re)blossoming of the Syrian "spring" ought not hold their breath. Nearly four years after the transition of power from Hafez Al Asad to his son Bashar, Syria's much-discussed economic reform process has yielded exactly two "private banks" with suspect ownership and operating under the watchful eye of the state.

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  • The Ghosts of Baathists Past and the Predicament of Civic Culture in Iraq

    Ray Salvatore Jennings
    August 22, 2008

    The lingering effect of Baathist-era distortions and intensifying violence are hindering efforts to create a civic culture based on tolerance, cooperation, and individual initiative in Iraq.

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  • Religious Authority and Politics in Post-Saddam Iraq

    David Siddhartha Patel
    August 22, 2008

    Freed from state control, religious authorities—drawing on their moral authority and extensive mass communication networks, and benefiting from the weakness of secular forces—quickly filled the political void created by the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. A year later, these authorities remain the principal shapers of public opinion among most Iraqi Arabs.

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  • Iraq's Shiite Islamists On the Threshold of Power

    Kenneth Katzman
    August 22, 2008

    Iraq's Shiite Islamists are in an undeniable position of strength as the June 30, 2004 hand-over of sovereignty approaches. Their leadership has gelled with the emergence of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, 75, as the major political force in the country.

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  • The Collapse of the Tunis Summit

    Adnan Abu Odeh
    August 22, 2008

    Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali's last-minute decision to postpone the Arab League summit scheduled to open in Tunis on March 29 caused a diplomatic earthquake. It called the Arab order into question and shattered the hopes of Arab people for joint Arab action on several critical issues.

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