Middle East Articles

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said that the only thing the Jews have against Moses is that he “brought us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!” Israel has always been the barren state, but recent excavations of natural gas and the presence of large shale oil deposits promise to change Israeli energy policy. The consequences of an energy independent Israel are profound, but may not be entirely good for the Middle East. 

By Yacine Fares  |  February 12, 2013

Being a hegemonic global power, the United States has a large presence on all the world’s continents. Although the majority of media attention has focused on the US military presence in the Middle East, the United States also holds a strong presence in East Asia centered on the bases in Okinawa, Japan. From the US defense point of view, the bases serve as an important strategic check on nearby countries such as China and North Korea. Despite the strategic importance of the bases on the international level, the foreign US military presence has spurred strong local opposition in the Okinawa prefecture. This special arrangement in Okinawa draws in issues ranging from major international security interests between the United States and Japan to the systemic local impact on the lifestyle in the islands.

By Scott Zhuge  |  December 30, 2012

On May 23, 1997, Iranian democracy worked. In a surprise to both the electorate and the international community, a little-known cleric named Mohammad Khatami resoundingly defeated the heavily-favored conservative candidate for the presidency of the Islamic Republic, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri. For the moment, the votes of the people had trumped the will of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who had supported Nateq-Nouri. With 70 percent of the votes in an election with 80 percent turnout, Khatami won a powerful popular mandate for his platform of restoring civil rule, easing social restrictions, liberalizing the economy, and improving Iran’s relations with the outside world. To begin his pursuit of this last priority, President Khatami appeared on CNN and called upon the people of the United States to reject cultural conflict and join the people of Iran in a “dialogue of civilizations.” Soon, many in the Clinton Administration—including President Clinton himself—came to recognize that Khatami represented the most credible partner for peace with the United States since the Islamic Revolution had ruptured relations.

By Michael Mitchell  |  December 30, 2012

 On February 18, 2012, just over a year on from the first major demonstrations in Yemen’s Change Square, 26-year-old photojournalist Ebrahim Al Sharif announced he was going to run for the presidency, under the banner “The First Youth President in the World.”

“My desire is to become Yemen’s next president and this is irreversible,” said Ebrahim, boldly ignoring the fact that the upcoming elections were not open to contestation. Vice President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi was sworn in as president on February 25, after receiving 99 percent of the vote on the single candidate ballot.

By Kate Nevens  |  November 30, 2012

 On February 18, 2012, just over a year on from the first major demonstrations in Yemen’s Change Square, 26-year-old photojournalist Ebrahim Al Sharif announced he was going to run for the presidency, under the banner “The First Youth President in the World.”

“My desire is to become Yemen’s next president and this is irreversible,” said Ebrahim, boldly ignoring the fact that the upcoming elections were not open to contestation. Vice President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi was sworn in as president on February 25, after receiving 99 percent of the vote on the single candidate ballot.

By Kate Nevens  |  November 30, 2012

Thirty years of research have identified a common structure to social movements (i.e. grievances, resources, ideology, and opportunity) that challenge and bring about change in government systems. An example was the 1989 demise of the Soviet socialist bloc in Eastern Europe, which is described in Oberschall’s 2000 article “Social movements and the transition to democracy” and in Opp & Gern’s 1993 study, “Dissident groups, personal networks, and spontaneous cooperation: The East German Revolution of 1989.” Once again we are witnessing a region wide upheaval, this time in the Middle East as the Arab uprisings that began in Tunisia continue to ripple across national boundaries. It is too early to say with certainty how or why this cascade started, much less tell where it is headed.

By Brian K. Barber, James Youniss  |  November 30, 2012

Since December 2010, the eyes of the world have been drawn to the dramatic developments in North Africa and the Middle East, as popular revolutions have toppled autocratic regimes throughout the region. The American people’s egalitarian instincts have sided with the democratic political aspirations of these revolutions. However, our obsessive focus on free and fair elections has caused us to overlook another critical element in the construction of flourishing societies in Arab Spring countries. The framers of the new constitutions in these countries, and the people themselves, will need to construct impartial, fair, independent, and transparent judicial systems, and a culture of confidence in their courts in order to foster a robust civil society. Only then will citizens feel secure that they will be justly treated if they are subjected to overreach by popular majorities or executive entities. The development of impartial and independent courts is a prerequisite to the rule of law.

By Meryl Chertoff, Michael Green  |  September 30, 2012
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Perhaps no one could have predicted that a single uprising, which began in a small town in Tunisia, would have spread to major cities in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria in a span of just three months. Nor was it evident that the self-immolation of Mohamed Bou Azizi in front of a local municipal office in Sidi Bouzid would have sparked the Tunisian revolution that overthrew President Ben Ali in a span of two weeks.

By Nezar AlSayyad  |  July 22, 2012

In the beginning of 2012, the Supreme Court of Israel upheld a law prohibiting Palestinians who marry Israelis from thereby obtaining Israeli citizenship. The Citizenship and Entry Law, as it is known, applies the same ban to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Although it passed the Knesset as an emergency national security provision during the Second Intifada in 2003, the law has become a permanent feature of the Israeli naturalization landscape,

By Michael Mitchell  |  July 7, 2012

The recent uprising in Libya has highlighted Muammar Qaddafi’s expert ability to manipulate tribal rivalries to maintain his grip on power. In Qaddafi’s early days as leader,  he tried his best to build a unified national identity that trumped tribal sentiments; however, when Qaddafi’s popularity declined at the national level, he realized that manipulating tribal loyalties was his best hope for remaining in power. Following a coup attempt in 1993 staged by military leaders in the Warfalla tribe (Libya’s largest), Qaddafi started emphasizing tribal loyalty as a major identifying factor for Libyans. He then cemented his hold on power by setting rival tribes against each other, rewarding those loyal to him with political appointments and excluding those that opposed him.

By Richard Baxley  |  January 12, 2012