How a Salafi Preacher Came for my Soul
October 05, 2012
The far-reaching ambitions of Egypt’s rising Islamists.
One Year Later: The Failure of the Arab Spring
January 24, 2012
I. A year has passed since liberal America and the liberal opinion class, in particular, went ecstatic over the Arab debut into the modern world. I know that my standing in that class is suspect. So, being a bit flummoxed myself by the not altogether dissimilar developments in the vast expanse from the Maghreb to Mesopotamia, I conquered my doubts and made a slight stab for hope. But I quickly realized that I was wrong and left the celebration.
Stop Calling It Egypt’s Revolution
February 16, 2011
The massive protests that forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s departure have been widely described as a revolution. And that’s fine. If there is an Internet revolution, a Reagan revolution, and even an Obama revolution, then there has certainly been an Egyptian revolution. But there is another meaning of revolution that applies specifically to events like the French, Russian, or Chinese Revolutions. In this sense of the word, Egypt has not yet had a revolution; and the success of the protests will depend ultimately on whether it does have one.
September 20, 2010
The most durable myth in the Middle East is: "It's Palestine, stupid." It lies at the heart of Barack Obama's Middle East diplomacy, which is why the president has been pummeling the Israelis and pushing the Palestinians to resume talks. According to this myth, the most urgent problem is not the Iranian bomb or Syrian ambitions. It is not Egypt, once an anchor of stability and now slipping into precarious irrelevance. It is not Iraq, which is tottering between occupation and anarchy. It is not Al Qaeda in Yemen, the return of the Taliban, or the ticking time bomb that is Pakistan.
“For The First Time I’ve Not Been Asked About Human Rights:” Auguries From Obama’s Egypt.
June 27, 2010
A vivid report by Ashraf Khalil in Friday’s Wall Street Journal and an AP dispatch on the same day evoke a moribund Egyptian politics coming to life because of the death of a 28-year old in Alexandria. The murder—and it was a murder!—was committed by the police. Out in the open or, to be precise, down the alley from an internet cafe out of which Khaled Saieed was dragged. Saieed’s face was shown on web sites, and the image was not pretty: a battered face and broken teeth. The police attributed his death to resisting arrest. Of course. Not surprisingly: ‘We are all afraid for our children.
The Party Line
April 07, 2010
Russia and the Arabs: Behind the Scenes in the Middle East from the Cold War to the Present By Yevgeny Primakov Translated by Paul Gould (Basic Books, 418 pp., $29.95) Over the decades, many people in the West, and certainly most Israelis, came to view the Soviet Union and then Russia as a force for ill, if not evil, in the Middle East, and perhaps farther afield as well.
The Camp David Accords were signed 31 years ago this mid-month. The actual Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was sealed 30 years ago this coming March. This was negotiated between Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat. (The immediate reward for Cairo was annual emoluments of $3 billion, just about what Israel has received for military aid.) No soldiers have taken up arms against each other ever since. No airplanes have flown hostilely over each other's air space, no tanks, no missiles, no nothing. Nonetheless, the normalization of relations that many people anticipated would emerge between the two nati
King for a Day
August 05, 2009
Quiet sobs echo through the atrium of the Al-Rifai Mosque in Cairo, where rows of seated mourners are surrounded by wreathes of white flowers. Women dab their heavily made-up eyes, while men stare solemnly ahead. As the streets of Tehran demand freedom, a different group of Iranians gathered in Cairo last week to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the death of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Iranian monarch deposed by the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The Killer Question
January 30, 2008
The last time I saw Benazir Bhutto was over dinner at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., three weeks before her October return to Pakistan. She was in enormously good spirits, almost effervescent. The years in the political wilderness looked like they were coming to an end. But, at one point, the conversation took a more serious turn as she began discussing the mysterious death of General Zia, the dictator who had hanged her father in 1979.Zia died in a plane accident in Pakistan nine years later.