Sinai

Is the terror group dead or alive? It's complicated.

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The United States needs to survey the new landscape that has emerged in the Middle East, and determine how it can shape it going forward.

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It’s no secret that Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist faction that controls Gaza, has long considered exchanging its underground smuggling tunnels to Egypt for a policy of above-board trade. What has only recently begun to register is that Hamas may be contemplating a bolder political gambit still: Cutting its financial ties to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank, in preparations for declaring full independence on behalf of Gaza. Al-Hayat first reported the story on July 22.

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I commented long ago in The Spine about the courtship between fundamentalist Christianity and Israel. One of the early signs that it was meshing was the meeting between [Israeli Prime Minister Menahem] Begin and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, who had said that God doesn’t hear the prayers of a Jew. That’s a big theological rift already. But Begin tried to finesse the history.

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Alexandria, Egypt—Parliamentarians’ offices typically feature self-flattering photos and patriotic paraphernalia, so I was taken aback by the décor of recently elected Muslim Brotherhood MP Saber Abouel Fotouh’s Alexandria headquarters.

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Forgive the corny metaphors. But it was not I who framed developments in the Arab world with the sequence of the seasons. Still, you need only glance at the papers to recognize that Arab Spring is now Arab Winter without really ever having passed through summer or fall. Spring is, as ever, a romantic memory.  As I write, Reuters reports from the Cairo morgue that 33 to 46 protestors were killed by the police since Saturday—and that nearly 1,300 were wounded and maimed.

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It is not actually his region. Still, with the arrogance that is so characteristic of his behavior in matters he knows little about (which is a lot of matters), he entered the region as if in a triumphal march. But it wasn’t the power and sway of America that he was representing in Turkey and in Egypt. For the fact is that he has not much respect for these representations of the United States. In the mind of President Obama, in fact, these are what have wreaked havoc with our country’s standing in the world.

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Cairo—On February 10, 2011, Field Marshal and then-Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi intercepted a decree that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent to state television, in which he announced the replacement of the head of the Republican Guard, a Cairo-based army unit partially tasked with preventing against the possibility of a military coup. Tantawi had opposed the use of military force against the nearly 15 million protestors who had taken to the streets since January 25, and he had helped prevent the situation from escalating into a Tiananmen Square-style bloodbath.

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Politicians in Washington are grappling with how to address rising gasoline prices, but most of their answers—from repealing tax breaks for oil companies to expanding offshore drilling—are unlikely to make much of a difference any time soon. The Arab awakening, coupled with Iran’s accelerated pursuit of nuclear weapons, ensures that energy prices will likely remain elevated for a long time. In the near- and long-term, those events are leading to less energy produced and exported from the Middle East and North Africa than there otherwise would be, as well as greater risk to their transport.

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Dream Sequence

There are so many unknowns to bedevil any poor pundit trying to call the 2012 Republican nomination. For starters, we still don’t know for sure who’s going to run.

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