Dec 13, 2012
On December 13, Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns outlined U.S. policy in the Middle East two years after the Arab uprisings. Burns committed support for continued democratic changes and urged tolerance despite the turmoil. He emphasized the need for “sustainable democracy,” and not just stability. Burns also noted that the United States’ democratic transition “took fifteen years to deliver a President, Congress and Constitution—and even then it required ten amendments to pass and a civil war to realize its potential.” The war ended nearly 90 years after declaring independence from Great Britain.
Dec 13, 2012
Arab social media users are more likely to express their opinions on politics, community issues and religion than others in Europe, Latin America, the United States and Asia, according to a new survey by Pew. In Egypt and Tunisia, more than 60 percent of surveyed users share their political and religious views online. Less than 40 percent of European and U.S. users share their political and religious views.
Dec 11, 2012
Women played frontline roles in the Arab uprisings, but have since faced growing political hurdles during the transitions. Nine female activists from Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Libya outlined the specific challenges to women’s participation at a meeting sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in October 2012. They also offered strategies for empowering women.
Nov 27, 2012
Over 80 percent of respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia hold their governments responsible for helping the poor, according to the results of a new poll by Gallup. But respondents provided differing reviews of their respective governments’ social assistance programs.
Nov 02, 2012
Tunisia -- Robin Wright interviewed Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Ennahda Party, on the first anniversary of Tunisia’s first democratic elections. Ghannouchi reflected on the new Islamist spectrum, especially concern about the growing Salafi factor.
Oct 22, 2012
The Pew Research Center conducted a poll on the U.S. public‘s views on the Middle East in early October. The public is increasingly pessimistic about regional developments following the Arab uprisings. In April 2011, 42 percent of Americans thought changes in leadership would “lead to lasting improvements for people” in countries like Egypt and Libya. But in October 2012, only 25 percent still believe there will be lasting improvements.The results were released prior to the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Overall the poll found little difference in opinion between Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The majority of Americans, 54 percent, say it is “more important to have stable governments in the Middle East, even if there is less democracy in the region.”
Oct 16, 2012
On October 12, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton declared that U.S. support for democratic transitions is a “strategic necessity” and not just “a matter of idealism.” She discussed the status of North African political transitions at a conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Clinton pledged to increase engagement with the region, despite the outbreak of anti-American sentiment in September 2012. She urged Congress to approve an additional $770 million in assistance to countries that enact political and economic reforms.
Sep 28, 2012
The leaders of Islamist governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have condemned attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates in reaction to the offensive “Innocence of Muslims” film. In public statements and private contacts with American officials, all three leaders assured the United States that the assaults did not reflect government policy or public opinion among the majority in their countries. Each of them blamed small groups of extremists.
Sep 13, 2012
On Sept. 5, the International Monetary Fund published a report on Tunisia’s post-uprising economic and social challenges. Tunisia’s economic prospects are now improving due to increased government spending and tourism revenues. But unemployment remains high at 19 percent overall and more than 40 percent among youth.
May 15, 2012
In stark contrast to Islamist victories elsewhere, Algeria’s election on May 10 produced a “crushing defeat” of two moderate Islamist parties, reports David Ottaway in a new analysis from Algiers. The outcome defied public predictions by Islamist politicians that they would win at least a plurality of seats—and potentially even enough to lead a new government. Two secular parties aligned with the former government instead increased their dominance in the National People’s Assembly, winning 288 seats – or 62 percent of the vote. The moderate Islamists have instead been marginalized politically—a position that may undermine prospects of cooperation with the new government.