Amid a storm of bad news from the Middle East these days (see our conference transcript on the plight of the Syrian refugees, page one) has come a ray of hope. After four decades of sporadic effort, talks aimed at preventing Iran from building an atomic bomb in secret may bear fruit.
Karen AbuZayd, Denis J. Sullivan, Susan M. Akram and Sara Roy
FORD FRAKER, President, Middle East Policy Council
Chas W. Freeman, Jr.
I want to speak with you today about the Middle East. This is the region where Africa, Asia and Europe come together. It is also the part of the world where we have been most compellingly reminded that some struggles cannot be won, but there are no struggles that cannot be lost.
It is often said that human beings learn little useful from success but can learn a great deal from defeat. If so, the Middle East now offers a remarkably rich menu of foreign-policy failures for Americans to study:
Michael B. Bishku
With the break-up of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, three republics in the South Caucasus — Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan — achieved independence for the second time during the twentieth century (their first experience, following the Russian Revolution, had been contentious and short-lived). Located at the crossroads of Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the republics have depended for their political and economic security on the balancing of relations with both their regional neighbors and the major powers.
Matteo Legrenzi and Fred H. Lawson
Relations between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the countries of the Gulf have been subjected to an escalating barrage of scholarly scrutiny. At first, academic writing subsumed Beijing's dealings with the Arab Gulf states and Iran into comprehensive surveys of Chinese policy toward the Middle East as a whole.
ROGER GAESS: Were you surprised by the enormity of the "yes" vote in favor of recognizing the State of Palestine?
Stephen Ellis and Andrew Futter
With a few notable exceptions,1 it has become almost conventional wisdom to assume that a nuclear Iran is bad for its immediate neighbors, the wider Middle East region, and even the world.2 Such logic suggests that even an Iran with a nascent nuclear program would be emboldened in its meddling in Middle Eastern geopolitical affairs, present a serious, perhaps existential, threat to Israel and others, and could potentially lead to a nuclear-proliferation cascade among its immediate regional rivals.
At the end of 2014, some unexpected news about the "Islamic State" (IS) made headlines: al-Quds al-Arabi reported that a newly created IS military-police department in Raqqa had arrested fighters who had refused to go to battle in Kobani,1 and the Financial Times reported the execution of 100 foreign fighters and the arrest of another 400 trying to flee the war zone.2 Spoiled by its initial success, IS has now suffered some serious military setbacks in Baiji, Sinjar, Kobani, Tikrit and other towns in Iraq and Syria.
Rashed Lekhraibani, Emilie Rutledge and Ingo Forstenlechner
An estimated 50,000 American and 250,000 British expatriates currently reside in the UAE; around a quarter of them choose to make it their home for periods of five or more years. More than a third of the UAE population is non-Muslim; Christians and Hindus each account for around 15 percent.
The role of women in the 2011 wave of protests, demonstrations and riots — nicknamed "the Arab Spring" by the Western media1 — was crucial, but many observers have started wondering whether women's postrevolutionary status will reflect their invaluable contribution. In Tunisia, women have enjoyed and practiced numerous rights since the 1950s. The various measures the state enacted to achieve gender equality have placed the country at the top position in the region with respect to women's rights.
Marc Morjé Howard and Meir R. Walters
In July 2013, the cover of Time magazine announced that Egypt has both the world's "best protesters" and "worst democrats."1 In the same month, the cover of The Economist asked, "Has the Arab Spring failed?"2 The media oscillated between euphoria over the democratic potential of "Facebook revolutions" and dismissal (or even gloating) when they did not seem to pan out. This response to the Arab uprisings is part of a broader trend. Popular accounts of mass uprisings tend to label them neatly by color (orange, green, rose) or season (spring, winter).
Albert B. Wolf
Does the Arab Street hold authoritarian leaders to account for their failures on the battlefield? Sir John Bagot Glubb, the British head of the Arab Legion, noted several years after Israel's War for Independence that it was the "Street" that pushed Arab statesmen to go to war, rather than any clear strategic rationale:
The recent publication of these three biographies, portraying the lives of the most important Jewish political leaders of the last century, helps to remind us that the Zionist movement was rent from its very inception by deep ideological divisions and intense personal disputes.
Eugene Rogan's The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East; 1914-1920 is a brilliant book that combines the academic rigor one expects from a serious work of history and a fluid writing style that makes it an enjoyable read.
American readers of this book might wonder what the initials "QC" stand for, but what does not count for much in the United States counts for a lot in Britain, where the title of Queen's Counsel is conferred on those who have risen to the top of the legal profession. Mr.