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“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

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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



    • Don’t Panic. Yet
    • Analysis | Dec 2, 2011
    • The official results of the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections come out tonight, but a cursory look at initial results presented by parties and reported by the media paint a fairly clear picture: Islamists will be a majority in the next parliament, led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and Salafists have exceeded expectations to be, perhaps, the second party in Egypt.

      This news has profoundly depressed most educated, middle class Cairenes


    • The Islamists vs. The Markets: Egypt’s Election Analyzed
    • Analysis | Dec 2, 2011
    • In Hugh Roberts’ excellent essay in last week’sLondon Review of Books, he makes a common enough point: “Religion had little to do with the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt.” But to anyone paying attention to the Arab Spring, that might seem an absurd conclusion. After all, it is religious parties that seem to be doing very well for themselves.

    • What the Libya Intervention Achieved
    • Analysis | Oct 31, 2011
    • Mustafa Abdul Jalil, leader of Libya’s interim National Transitional Council, declared the end of the war and the liberation of Libya on Sunday following the controversial death of Moammar Qaddafi. Judging by the tenor of discussion in the United States, you would think that this was an unmitigated disaster — a humiliating end to an illegal war which prevented the UN from acting in Syria, massacred civilians, and opened the door to state failure, warlord violence, reprisals, and radical


    • The Arab Intellectuals Who Didn’t Roar
    • Analysis | Oct 31, 2011
    • In mid-June, the Syrian poet known as Adonis, one of the Arab world’s most renowned literary figures, addressed an open letter to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The stage was set for one of those moments, familiar from revolutions past, in which an intellectual hero confronts an oppressive ruler and eloquently voices the grievances of a nation.

      Instead, Adonis — who lives in exile in France — bitterly disappointed many Syrians. His letter offered some criticisms,


    • Are the Islamists Ready to Govern?
    • Analysis | Oct 31, 2011
    • The Arab Spring is not only an opportunity for Islamists but also a test case. How the Ennahda movement of Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt respond to the challenges will determine the future of both the Arab Spring and the Islamists.

      Islamist political movements in Tunisia and Egypt are poised to come to power through the electoral process. This is a new challenge for democracy expected to emerge from the Arab Spring. The question is whether Islamists, once in


    • Mounting Questions on Iran Terror Plot
    • Analysis | Oct 14, 2011
    • Soon after Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar in connection with an alleged Iran-directed plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, administration officials had harsh words for Iran, but many experts voiced skepticism (NYT). Kenneth Katzman, an Iran expert at the Congressional Research Service, says he and many of his peers believe that elements of the plan–such as the alleged intent to use a Mexican


    • In Riddle of Mideast Upheaval, Turkey Offers Itself as an Answer
    • Analysis | Sep 27, 2011
    • ISTANBUL — Not so long ago, the foreign policy of Turkey revolved around a single issue: the divided island of Cyprus. These days, its prime minister may be the most popular figure in the Middle East, its foreign minister envisions a new order there and its officials have managed to do what the Obama administration has so far failed to: position themselves firmly on the side of


    • The Speech Yasser Arafat Never Gave
    • Analysis | Sep 27, 2011
    • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ moving speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Friday was certainly the high point of his career. His address will be forever remembered because Abbas was able to do what no Palestinian leader has ever done in the past: make the moral case for Palestinian independence in a clear, coherent, reasonable manner at the highest international forum.

      Most importantly, Abbas’ message was internationally receivable. Only the most recalcitrant supporters


    • On Iran’s Nuclear Program, Science Contradicts Rhetoric
    • Analysis | Sep 13, 2011
    • September is a big month for Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will travel to the UN General Assembly meeting next week, Iran finally launched its long-delayed nuclear plant at Bushehr this week, and on September 2 the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, published their quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. The latest report has fueled the usual rhetoric from Tehran and Washington, with each side interpreting it


    • Dead in the Water
    • Analysis | Sep 8, 2011
    • The world owes a debt of thanks to that anonymous diplomat who leaked the long-delayed U.N. report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident — the ill-fated Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla that resulted in the deaths of nine Turks — to the New York Times, thus single-handedly ending months of endless speculation and finally putting the floundering Turkey-Israel relationship out of its misery.

      The report was issued by a panel headed by Geoffrey Palmer, the former prime minister of