Wajeha al Huwaider reflects on the status of women in Saudi Arabia five years after she started a campaign for the right to drive.
On March 3, Secretary of State John Kerry released $250 million in aid to Egypt. Kerry made the announcement after President Mohamed Morsi pledged to implement painful economic reforms needed to secure an International Monetary Fund loan. Kerry discussed ways the United States can support Egypt’s economy and democratic transition during his two-day visit to Cairo—his first visit to an Arab capital since taking office.
The most important achievement of Egyptian women over the past year is their emergence as a formidable and active voting block of 23 million voters. Moreover, women broke many taboos by camping out in the streets alongside men, challenging traditional expectations of their behavior.
The rise of Islamist parties in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings took most by surprise, including in some cases the Islamist parties themselves, which were more successful than they dared to hope. But the success of Islamist parties, coupled with the disarray of the secular opposition, augurs poorly for democracy.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) offers a moderate political model that may be attractive to Arab Islamists, according to a new report by The Brookings Institution. The AKP promotes Islamic values without seeking to establish an Islamic state by embracing “passive secularism.” Islamist parties in Tunisia and Morocco are already close to the AKP model, since neither party calls for a constitutional reference to Sharia, or Islamic law.
Women leaders in seven Arab countries were asked what political, social and economic changes they expect to see in 2013. Most expected to see political infighting, backsliding in women’s status, or an economic downturn in their respective countries.
Tunisians want their government to focus on employment, economic development and security, according to a new poll by The International Republican Institute. Some 77 percent of respondents said Tunisia is moving in the wrong direction.
Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party leading Tunisia’s coalition government, has prudently managed radical religious groups through dialogue, persuasion and co-optation, according to a new report by the International Crisis Group. But the recent assassination of opposition politician Chokri Belaid has thrown the country into a crisis, and raised the threat of violence.
On February 12, President Obama pledged to “stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy,” in his State of the Union Address. “We’ll keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian,” he said.
On February 10, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson outlined realistic steps Egypt can take to move forward economically and politically. Elections and constitutions “are not enough,” she told members of Alexandria’s Rotary Club. She stressed the importance of a healthy and active civil society to the country’s democratic transition. Patterson said that Cairo also needs to ensure the protection and political participation of religious minorities and women.