"In Syria, there are no good options, American credibility is at stake, and the pressures to act are considerable in the face of great uncertainties," writes Aaron David Miller in Salon.com.
"On the second anniversary of the Arab uprisings, millions across the Middle East still have dreams of makeovers. But revolutionary fairy tales have devolved into the reality of running countries that are still without fully functioning governments or basic laws. Providing fundamental public services, much less addressing economic woes that sparked the uprisings, is still a very long way off," writes DIstinguished Scholar Robin Wright.
"While the Burmese may have been impressed with events in Tahrir Square last year, Egypt should be looking to Myanmar’s example now. Egyptians are due to head to the polls this weekend but democratic change seems increasingly elusive. Myanmar, meanwhile, has moved further and faster toward real political reform," writes Jane Harman in Politico.
U.S. and Iranian officials are praising nuclear talks in Geneva this week as a key diplomatic success, but the problems that torpedoed previous efforts to win guarantees from Iran that it will not seek the bomb appear undiminished, writes Michael Adler on The Daily Beast.
The failure of Tunisia's ruling Islamic Ennahda movement to convince secular parties and civil society groups that it is truly committed to the separation of religion and state underlies the current political crisis there. Ennahda's moderate leadership has made repeated compromises on religious issues to meet secularist demands for a new constitution. But it has lost their trust by showing too much deference to its own militant Islamic wing and fundamentalist Salafis outside the movement.
This week at the Wilson Center, Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will distribute pioneering interactive women's health books throughout Afghanistan this year. Built with the LeapPad learning system technology, the books are aimed especially at helping Afghan women who cannot read or write. The secretary's speech is available here. Video to come soon.
Hassan Rouhani’s surprising first round victory in the presidential elections represents a significant shift in the Iranian political landscape. In a field of candidates dominated by conservatives, Rouhani ran as a moderate. He questioned the necessity of the expanding security state and the constant oversight of student and civil society associations by the security agencies. He spoke of the need for greater freedom of press and speech, and devoted attention to women’s rights issues. Whether he will succeed, or whether he will initiate a change of direction only to be blocked by yet another rightwing backlash, remains to be seen.
Since Tuareg nationalists and al-Qaeda seized control of northern Mali in February 2012, the world has been dithering about what to do. Neither the United States nor Algeria, two potentially key actors in the unfolding drama, has decided on its role yet. Mali’s neighbors, the African Union, and the UN Security Council have not wanted to take any risky action and have found ways to put off a military response in the slim hope of finding a political solution.
Sanctions Relief: Iran’s Economic and Monetary Policy Options: Could Iran’s Policies of the 60s and 70s be a Guide or a Lesson?
December 13, 2013 // 12:00pm — 2:00pm