The Great Debate

Russia’s fight in Syria reflects the Kremlin’s fears at home

By Paul Stronski
September 29, 2015
Russian Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopter flies over the Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow

Russian Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopter flies over the Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti

Why Arab Spring made life better in Tunisia, failed everywhere else

By Ellen McLarney
February 18, 2015
A Tunisian fan reacts after Tunisia lost their quarter-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Equatorial Guinea in Bata

A Tunisian fan soccer fan. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Earlier this month, Tunisia’s newly elected parliament cobbled together a coalition government led by a secular party that included its Islamist rivals, who had been democratically ousted from power. The new government, coming on the heels of a historic presidential election, a new constitution and the first democratic elections to be held during the Arab Spring, marks an astonishing democratic culmination in the birthplace of the movement. It has also proven hard to replicate.

from John Lloyd:

U.S. ‘soft power’ hits another hard reality in the Middle East

By John Lloyd
November 12, 2014

Relatives of detained activists cry and pray for them as the activists stand trial at a court in Cairo

On Sunday, June 22, 1941, Winston Churchill’s private secretary, John Colville, woke him with the news that Nazi Germany had invaded the Soviet Union. In a radio address that same evening, the British prime minister repeated his “consistent” opposition to communism, but said that “all this flashes away … the Russian danger is therefore our danger.” In a later House of Commons debate, Churchill quipped -- “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

The other Egyptian crisis

By Shirin Neshat
March 5, 2014

Like most artists, I often wonder what art’s place is in a world that seems consumed by violence during these times of social upheaval.

What just happened in Egypt?

By Shibley Telhami
July 4, 2013

It was not supposed to turn out this way: Only a year after Egyptians freely elected Mohamed Mursi as their president for a four-year term, he was removed by a military decree. This sets in motion a “road map” for a new transitional period leading to another experiment akin to the period following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The key to understanding the ‘Arab Spring’

By Graeme Bannerman
October 11, 2012

The United States has been unable to develop a clear national policy about the Arab Spring largely because Washington does not fully understand what’s happening in the Middle East.

from Paul Smalera:

Twitter’s censorship is a gray box of shame, but not for Twitter

January 29, 2012

Twitter’s announcement this week that it was going to enable country-specific censorship of posts is arousing fury around the Internet. Commentators, activists, protesters and netizens have said it’s “very bad news” and claim to be “#outraged”. Bianca Jagger, for one, asked how to go about boycotting Twitter, on Twitter, according to the New York Times. (Step one might be... well, never mind.) The critics have settled on #TwitterBlackout: all day on Saturday the 28th, they promised to not tweet, as a show of protest and solidarity with those who might be censored.

Yemen needs an insurgent democracy

By Stefan Wolff
January 24, 2012

After months of uncertainty around whether Ali Abdullah Saleh has been sincere about stepping down from his post as Yemen’s president, Sunday brought confirmation that he has left the country to seek medical treatment in the United States. Under a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council with United Nations, United States and United Kingdom assistance, Saleh is barred from partaking in the Feb. 21 elections for an interim president. In exchange, he received immunity in an unamendable law — both nationally and internationally highly controversial — passed by Yemen’s parliament the day before his departure.

from Don Tapscott:

20 big ideas for 2012, continued

December 19, 2011

The views expressed are his own.

What will happen in 2012? In the spirit of the aphorism “The future is not something to be predicted, it’s something to be achieved,” let me suggest 20 transformations (which Reuters will publish in four groups of five; the first can be found here). We need to make progress on these issues now to prevent next year from being a complete disaster.

One year later: three lessons from the Arab Spring

By Stefan Wolff
November 25, 2011

By Stefan Wolff
The opinions expressed are his own.

When Mohamed Bouazizi, a jobless graduate in the provincial city of Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia, about 200km southwest of the capital Tunis, set himself on fire on December 18, 2010 after police had confiscated a cart from which he was selling fruit and vegetables, few would have predicted that this event would spark the phenomenon we now refer to as the Arab Spring. Protests quickly escalated in Tunisia and within four weeks Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali had to flee to Saudi Arabia having failed to stop the protests either by repression of promises of reform.