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.

Afghanistan's Presidential Elections

Spreading Democracy or a Sham?

by M. Nazif Shahrani | published October 8, 2004

Less than a month before George W. Bush's second bid for the White House, his protégé and partner in post-Taliban Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, faces an election that both men hope will not only establish the legitimacy of Karzai's presidency but also prove the Bush administration's claim that the war-ravaged nation's transition to democracy has been a success. Over 10.5 million Afghans have reportedly registered to choose from among a slate of 16 candidates on October 9, 2004, less than three years after the removal of the infamous Taliban regime and their al-Qaeda allies from power in Kabul.

Kuwait's Parliament Considers Women's Political Rights, Again

by Mary Ann Tétreault | published September 2, 2004

When Kuwait's parliament reconvenes in late October, it will be facing a full agenda. Member initiatives include an ambitious redistricting bill and threats to interpellate at least two cabinet ministers. The government's wish list is equally contentious; it includes a wide-ranging privatization program and a proposal to confer full political rights on Kuwaiti women. Despite promises of enfranchisement in return for their highly lauded performance resisting the Iraqi occupation of 1990-1991, Kuwaiti women are still denied the rights to vote and run for national office.

World Court's Ruling on Wall Speaks with Utmost Clarity

by Nidal Sliman | published July 27, 2004

The International Court of Justice has rendered its advisory opinion on "the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem." Though the near-term fate of the wall is unclear, subject as it is to international power politics, the Court's ruling, issued on July 9, speaks with the utmost clarity.

Scandals of Oil for Food

by Joy Gordon | published July 19, 2004

Rep. Ralph Hall opened a set of Congressional hearings on July 8 with a dramatic flourish, denouncing "the deaths of thousands of Iraqis through malnutrition and lack of appropriate medical supplies." "We have a name for that in the United States," the Texas Republican told a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "It's called murder."