Makiya, Cruelty and Silence

by Mouin Rabbani
published in MER187

Kanan Makiya, Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World (W. W. Norton, 1993).

The absence of basic human rights and democratic freedoms in the Arab world for most of the post-colonial era, and the failure of the region’s inhabitants to successfully contest this deficit, has appropriately come to be known as a crisis of Arab political culture. That this crisis is not an abstraction but is excruciatingly real was amply demonstrated during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis. It is this important theme that Kanan Makiya attempts to address.

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Beyond the Ultra-Nationalist State

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER187

The current debate on the compatibility of Arab-Muslim culture with Enlightenment ideals of rationality, democracy and tolerance is curiously devoid of historical reference. In the Arab world, the debates on democracy and progress regained momentum during the late 1970s, when the Islamist movements began to attract a wide spectrum of people who had hitherto been considered the “natural” pool from which the left would draw support. Recognition of the need for radical change in their societies by Arab intellectuals, and a resurgent attraction to liberal democracy, is not a byproduct of the so-called new world order. Nor is it an intellectual property to which any writer can lay claim.

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The NGO Phenomenon in the Arab World

An Interview with Ghanem Bibi

by Julie Peteet , Joe Stork
published in MER193

Ghanem Bibi is co-founder and coordinator of the Arab Resource Collective based in Nicosia. ARC generates Arabic-language resources for use in community health and childhood development projects, and serves as a networking resource for Arab NGOs. Julie Peteet spoke with him in August 1994, shortly after an Arab NGO preparatory meeting in Lebanon for the March 1995 UN Social Summit in Copenhagen. Joe Stork spoke with him further in early November 1994.

What was the range of organizations attending the regional preparatory meeting?

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Middle East Studies in the Arab World

A View from the Region

by Lisa Hajjar
published in MER205

Salim Nasr, a Lebanese sociologist, is a Ford Foundation program officer in the Middle East and North Africa office in Cairo. He spoke with Lisa Hajjar in New York City on May 29, 1997.

How would you assess Middle East studies as it is undertaken by scholars based in the region?

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Understanding the Political Economy of the Arab Revolts

by Omar S. Dahi
published in MER259

The revolts sweeping the Arab Middle East and North Africa in early 2011 have been characterized as uprisings against neoliberal economic policies as well as authoritarian rule. But while there is widespread agreement on the political dimension of the revolts, there has been some confusion regarding the role played by economic grievances. The confusion is due not merely to the pace of events, but also to the fact that the region’s actual economic record is somewhat contested.

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Arab Perspectives on US Hegemony in the Middle East

Avoiding the Obvious

by Georges Corm
published in MER208

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Behind the Ballot Box

Electoral Engineering in the Arab World

by Marsha Pripstein Posusney
published in MER209

The last decade has seen multi-party competition for elected legislatures initiated or expanded in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Executive authority in most cases remains an uncontested, if not completely unelected, post. Nevertheless, incumbent rulers invariably tout these legislative elections as evidence of domestic legitimacy, often anointing their countries as “on the road to democracy” in their wake.

For Arab World Peace, More Voices Need Attention

by Waleed Hazbun , Michelle Woodward | published April 15, 2005

Pundits on the right have been quick to say the Bush administration deserves credit for sparking democratic rumblings across the Middle East. They note the popular protests against Syrian influence in Lebanon and Egyptian President Husni Mubarak ’s pledge to allow multiple candidates to run in the presidential elections, as well as local elections in Saudi Arabia. These events, they argue, show that the war in Iraq is realizing its true purpose. Should critics of the invasion of Iraq now concede that they were wrong? Voices on the left and other critics of the war tell us no. All they see is hypocrisy.

US Stays with Egyptian Dictator

by Chris Toensing | published June 3, 2005

“America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” With these soaring words in the 2005 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush swore to overturn the long-standing US policy of backing friendly dictators in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

At the May 20-22 World Economic Forum in Jordan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Cheney reiterated this “transformational vision” to the assembled Arab political and business leaders. For 60 years, said the vice president’s daughter, Washington had mistakenly backed the Arab status quo in exchange for stability—but no longer.

A Web Smaller Than a Divide

by Sinan Antoon | published May 14, 2010

At first glance, there’s a clear need for expanding the Web beyond the Latin alphabet, including in the Arabic-speaking world. According to the Madar Research Group, about 56 million Arabs, or 17 percent of the Arab world, use the Internet, and those numbers are expected to grow 50 percent over the next three years.

Many think that an Arabic-alphabet Web will bring millions online, helping to bridge the socio-economic divides that pervade the region.