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.
While Barack Obama has re-launched Israeli-Palestinian talks and begun negotiations with Iran, the Arab world has remained virtually absent.
The imbalance of power in Arab countries allows regimes to stay in control virtually unchallenged by non-violent opposition groups. Without a break in the stalemate between the key players—ruling establishments, moderate Islamist movements, and secular parties—democratization is impossible.
The Obama administration should establish direct talks with Hamas on substantive issues in a public, multilateral forum— otherwise it risks squandering a good deal of its prestige in the Arab world by not making a prominent departure from Bush administration policy.
The Fatah Congress has given Abu Mazen and Fatah a much-needed shot in the arm, and conferred new legitimacy on the peace option among Palestinians.
The United States should establish direct talks with Hamas on how it can play a productive role in the peace process and gradually integrate into Palestinian political and security institutions.