Women's Rights and the Meaning of Citizenship in Kuwait

by Mary Ann Tétreault | published February 10, 2005

Prosperous and possessed of a spirited parliament, Kuwait has prided itself on being a standard setter among the Arab monarchies on the Persian Gulf. With respect to women's rights, however, today Kuwait ranks just above Saudi Arabia. Kuwaiti women are allowed to drive and they occupy positions in public life ranging from secretary to second-level government ministers, but like their sisters in Saudi Arabia, they can neither vote nor run for political office.

Egypt Looks Ahead to Portentous Year

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published February 2, 2005

Not so long ago in Egypt, elections for the parliament, bar association and press syndicate, as well as presidential referenda, were dismissed as mere beautifying accessories for an incorrigibly authoritarian regime. In 2005, several developments promise to accentuate the significance of these once nugatory rituals.

Another "Historic Day" Looms in Iraq

by Chris Toensing | published January 28, 2005

Yet another "historic day" will dawn in war-weary Iraq on January 30. As interim prime minister Iyad Allawi told Iraqi television viewers, "For almost the first time since the creation of Iraq, Iraqis will participate in choosing their representatives in complete freedom." Not to be outdone, President George W. Bush used the first news conference of his second term to herald the "grand moment in Iraqi history" that the world will witness when Iraqis go to the polls.

A Very Slippery "Landslide" for Mahmoud Abbas

by Peter Lagerquist | published January 20, 2005

A chorus of international approval greeted Mahmoud Abbas' victory in the Palestinian Authority presidential election. January 9 was "a historic day for the Palestinian people and for the people of the Middle East," declared President George W. Bush, as the final count gave the Fatah party candidate some 62 percent of the vote -- three times the tally of his nearest challenger, human rights campaigner Mustafa Barghouthi.

Iran’s Nuclear Posture and the Scars of War

by Joost Hiltermann | published January 18, 2005

In waging war on Iraq, one of the points the Bush administration sought to prove was that President Bill Clinton’s policy of dual containment had failed -- that despite a decade of threats, sanctions, military action and UN-led disarmament, Iraq had continued to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Iraq, of course, was not the only target of dual containment. So was neighboring Iran, which likewise was suspected of having secret programs for building weapons of mass destruction and was seen as a destabilizing force hostile to US interests.

The IMF and the Future of Iraq

by Zaid Al-Ali | published December 7, 2004

On November 21, 2004, the 19 industrialized nations that make up the so-called Paris Club issued a decision that, in effect, traces the outline of Iraq's economic future. The decision concerns a portion of Iraq's $120 billion sovereign debt—a staggering amount that all concerned parties recognize is unsustainable. In their proposal to write off some of the debt, the Paris Club members took advantage of the opportunity to impose conditions that could bind the successor government in Baghdad to policies of free-market fundamentalism.