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Original Commentaries

Setting the Record Straight

Determined to Reach a Common Objective

“We knew at the outset that the task would be difficult. We acknowledged that publicly and privately. We knew this would be a road with many bumps— and there have been many bumps—and that continues to this day. But we are not deterred. We are, to the contrary, determined more than ever to proceed to realize the common objective, which we all share, of a Middle East that is at peace with security and prosperity for the people of Israel, for Palestinians, and for all the people in the region. We will continue our efforts in that regard, undeterred and undaunted by the difficulties, the complexities or the bumps in the road.”—George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu, September 29, 2010

Middle East Analysis

Upcoming Events

The U.S. Agency for International Development and Conflict: Hard Lessons from the Field

May 17, 2011, 12:00pm – 1:15pm

From Afghanistan and Iraq to Pakistan, Somalia, and South Sudan, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, is engaged daily in trying to help some of the most troubled nations on the planet make a lasting transition to stability, open markets, and democracy. Few areas of the agency’s work are more challenging or more controversial.

Join us for remarks by, and a roundtable with, the deputy administrator of USAID, Ambassador


Original Commentary

    • Discussion With Tunisia’s Rachid Ghannouchi
    • Original Commentary | Dec 2, 2011
    • Last January, shortly after the collapse of the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Rachid Ghannouchi returned home to Tunisia after over twenty years in exile. One of the founders and intellectual leader of Tunisia’s non-violent Islamist Ennahda (”Rennaissance”) party, which claimed victory in Tunisia’s recent elections, Ghannouchi spent much of the 1980’s in Tunisian prisons for his political activities. He left Tunisia for Europe in 1987, and spent the intervening


    • Debating Military Action Against Iran
    • Original Commentary | Dec 2, 2011
    • I’ve contributed a piece to U.S. News and World Report’s Debate Club, on the question of whether the U.S. should consider military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program. My answer:

      U.S. strikes could unite the Iranian people around the regime at a time when it is facing considerable popular discontent over its mismanagement of the economy and human rights abuses. According to an Iranian woman recently interviewed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, military action “will


    • Terms Of Disengagement
    • Original Commentary | Dec 2, 2011
    • Our guest author is John Paul Schnapper-Casteras an attorney in Washington, D.C. and fellow at the Truman National Security Project. Schnapper-Casteras conducted research in Iraq as part of a fellowship with Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

      President Obama’s recent announcement that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq has been met with fierce criticism from some


    • Riyadh’s Options
    • Original Commentary | Oct 21, 2011
    • Our guest author is Matthew M. Reed, a Middle East specialist at Foreign Reports, Inc., a consulting firm in Washington, DC. More of his commentary can be found at Al Ajnabee, where he writes about the new Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. The views expressed here are his own.

      If the accusations are true, the Saudi-Iranian cold war could have exploded at the Saudi Embassy in Foggy Bottom. The authenticity of the plot matters little at the moment


    • Interview With Vali Nasr
    • Original Commentary | Oct 20, 2011
    • Dr. Vali Nasr is a professor at Tufts University, and a specialist on Middle East politics and political Islam. Born in Iran, he has worked extensively on political and social developments in the Muslim world, and is the author of a number of books, including The Shia Revival and Democracy in Iran. Between 2009 and 2011, Nasr served in the Obama administration as Senior Adviser


    • Iran’s China Setback
    • Original Commentary | Sep 8, 2011
    • Our guest author is Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian–Israeli Middle East analyst and co-author of “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and The State of Iran.”

      To say that Iranian foreign policy has seen better days would be an understatement. With the passing of each month, as the ripples of the Arab awakening reach new countries in the Middle East, Iran is finding that its popularity


    • Can Syria’s Opposition Learn To Work Together?
    • Original Commentary | Aug 30, 2011
    • Our guest author is Kinda Kanbar, a journalist, media expert and political analyst with over 15 years of experience in the Middle East-North Africa region. Kanbar has worked on media development projects throughout the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. She has also participated in media law reform, and is the co-founder of Syria Today, Syria’s first magazine published in English.

      A little more than five months ago, peaceful protesters took to the Syrian streets, chanting for freedom. What


    • The GCC: How Much for Stability?
    • Original Commentary | Aug 15, 2011
    • Our guest author is Matthew M. Reed, a Middle East specialist at Foreign Reports, Inc., a consulting firm in Washington, DC. More of his commentary can be found at Al Ajnabee, where he writes about the new Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. The views expressed here are his own.

      The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is busy. In March they announced a $10 billion bail-out for Oman and Bahrain, the two poorest member states suffering from upheaval.


    • The Next Phase In The Egyptian Revolution
    • Original Commentary | Aug 12, 2011
    • Our guest author is Danya Greenfield, a program officer with the Middle East and North Africa division at the Center for International Private Enterprise. She lived in Egypt in 2000 and 2002-3, and is currently on leave in Cairo studying Arabic. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent CIPE.

      The image of the deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak behind bars was a compelling sight that provided an important moral victory for the youth


    • Palestine And The Arab Uprisings
    • Original Commentary | Aug 10, 2011
    • When the Arab uprisings began to gather steam a few months ago, a number of conservatives were quick to issue proclamations that the change sweeping the Middle East would finally relegate the Palestinian issue to the margins (where they clearly had long wished it to be). The Hoover Institution’s Josef Joffe claimed that the tumult had revealed Palestine as simply a “distraction” employed by