Eye on the Middle East and North Africa

Experts from the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) are closely following developments throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In a series of reports and interviews, they cover a wide range of issues.

Last Updated: December 31, 2011

Experts from the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) are closely following developments throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In a series of reports and interviews, they cover a wide range of issues.

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Regional Analysis

December 2011 - Special Report: Stakeholders of Libya's February 17 Revolution - United in revolution, Libya’s various rebel groups have high expectations of a new government but are divided on many fronts. Understanding who these factions are and the tensions among them is key to finding common ground on how to rebuild Libya’s political process.

November 2011 - Special Report: Security Sector Transformation in North Africa and the Middle East - International efforts to help Arab transition countries with security reform must be driven by country requests, involve many partners, and be tied to broader aims for justice, stability, and economic development.

May 20, 2011 - Update from Beirut: Region Anticipates President Obama’s Speech - USIP’s Steve Heydemann follows up his earlier post from Beirut, Lebanon with regional reactions to President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East and North Africa.

May 20, 2011 - President Obama's Speech and Gender - Following President Obama's speech on the Middle East, USIP's Kathleen Kuehnast examines how gender plays an important role in peacemaking and prosperity, and the influential role women are playing in the Arab Spring.

May 20, 2011 - President Obama’s Speech an “Evolution” for U.S. Policy, Says USIP Expert - President Barack Obama’s May 19 speech presents an important evolution rather than a decisive break with U.S. Middle East policy.

May 19, 2011 - President Obama's Speech and the Arab-Israeli Conflict - USIP’s Scott Lasensky outlines the significance of President Barack Obama’s speech for the Arab-Israeli conflict and U.S.policy.

May 18,2011 - Former USIP Board Member on Obama's Speech and the Arab Spring - Former USIP board member Shibley Telhami writes in The New York Times on the Arab Spring and Obama's speech to the Arab world.

May 10, 2011 - Democratization and Conflict in the Arab World: Challenges, Opportunities and Dangers - The mass protests seeking democracy and rule of law in the Arab world—amid the hope for change—have also produced an array of uncertainties, the likelihood of setbacks and the need for difficult policy choices by U.S. officials, the specialists addressing a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) conference on May 4 said.

May 10, 2011 - Arab Spring: Bahrain and Saudi Arabia - F. Gregory Gause III, professor of political science at the University of Vermont, discusses the waves of political protests in the Arab world, particularly in the oil-rich nations, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

May 5, 2011 - Women and the Arab Spring -  USIP’s Mary Hope Schwoebel discusses the opportunities and challenges for women in the Arab Spring.

May 3, 2011 - Palestinian Reconciliation USIP’s Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen discusses the significance of the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.

May 2, 2011 - U.S. Policy and the Arab World - USIP’s Dan Brumberg discusses the Arab Spring and the implications for U.S. policy and U.S. policymakers.

April 28 2011 - Youth and the "Arab Spring" - USIP’s Stephanie Schwartz, author of “Youth and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Agents of Change,” discusses the critical role youth are playing in the “Arab Spring.”

April 25 2011 - The Arab Spring - Chester A. Crocker analyzes the “awakening” of new trends in the Arab world and North Africa.

April 21 2011 - Arab Uprisings: Lessons from Africa - Senior Fellow Michael Bratton compares political transitions in Sub-Saharan African to the current uprisings and demonstrations calling for political change in the Middle East and North Africa.

April 18, 2011 - Impact of Arab Uprisings - Mona Yacoubian takes a look at the broad impact of the Arab uprisings.

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Libya

December 14, 2011
USIP Aids Libyan Post-Qaddafi Transition
- During a regional visit to the Middle East, USIP’s Manal Omar visited Libya several times as part of the Institute’s engagement in support of the ongoing transition there. Omar is director of USIP’s Iraq, Iran, and North Africa Program.
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October 24, 2011
Qaddafi’s Death and The Challenges of Building a New Libya
- Libyans have reacted overwhelmingly positively to the news of Muammar Qaddafi's death. USIP's Manal Omar discusses what impact his death will have on Libya's transition and future.
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October 18, 2011
Clinton Visits Tripoli
- Robert Perito, director USIP’s Security Sector Governance Center, provides some context for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to Libya.
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September 29, 2011
Libyan Official Calls for Libyan Lead in Transition
- Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), the immediate successor to the ousted regime of Col. Moammar al-Qaddafi, needs significant international help to prepare the North African nation for a democratic future, but Libyans themselves must be in the lead, and outside governments and institutions must show patience as Libya tries to address its many challenges, a key senior official in Libya’s new government told an audience at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on September 23.
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August 24, 2011
Helping Libya’s New Leaders Move from Euphoria to Reform
- USIP’s Colette Rausch, director of USIP’s Rule of Law Center of Innovation, discusses the situation in Libya and what issues Libyans will have to address after Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi is out of power. While no two countries are exactly alike, USIP’s Rule of Law Center has been there before – helping countries like Nepal, Kosovo and Iraq as they navigated the minefield that is a transition from dictatorships to civil societies.
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July 18, 2011
U.S. Recognizes Libyan Rebels as Legitimate Authority
- USIP’s Paul Hughes examines the significance of the U.S.’s move to recognize Libyan rebel leaders as the legitimate authority, the potential risks involved and when is the right time to plan for post-conflict operations.
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June 28, 2011
International Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Qaddafi
- USIP’s Lawrence Woocher discusses the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi and how this may impact efforts to end the fighting.
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June 9, 2011
Libyan Forces Use Rape as Weapon of War, Experts Say
- While opposition fighters struggle to tip the balance against Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s forces, a growing number of women living in rebel strongholds are allegedly being raped by members of the Libyan military.
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April 21, 2011
The United Nations in Libya - USIP’s Abiodun Williams discusses the United Nations’ role in Libya.
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April 20, 2011
Military Action in Libya - USIP’s Paul Hughes weighs the benefits and pitfalls of greater military action in Libya.
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March 29, 2011
USIP Experts Respond to Obama's Speech on Libya - USIP experts respond to President Obama's speech on U.S. military intervention in Libya.
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March 29, 2011
Libya, Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect - USIP’s Lawrence Woocher reacts to President Obama’s speech on Libya, genocide prevention and the responsibility to protect.
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March 28, 2011
Libya: No Fly Zone - USIP’s Paul Hughes, senior program officer with the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, discusses the No Fly Zone and NATO mission in Libya.
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March 28, 2011
Libya Action in U.S. National Interest - Shibley Telhami, former USIP Board Member (2000-2002) and member of the Senior Working Group on Middle East Peace, writes in Politico on U.S. military action in Libya.
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March 10, 2011
Oil and Turmoil in Libya - As chaos worsens in Libya, USIP’s Raymond Gilpin assesses Libya’s management of its oil resources and the economic impact of the country’s instability.
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March 4, 2011
Libya: Preventing Violence Against Citizens - Lawrence Woocher, senior program officer for the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention discusses the current developments in Libya and talks about USIP's Genocide Prevention Task Force which USIP co-sponsored, along with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Academy of Diplomacy.
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March 1, 2011
Libya and the “Responsibility to Protect” - Jonas Claes, program specialist in USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, talks about the "Responsibility to protect" principle and its application to the current situation in Libya.
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February 25, 2011
Libya and the “Responsibility to Protect” - Expert Steven Heydemann discusses how the current events in Libya could impact the region and the history of the U.S.'s relationship with Libya in the wake of recent violence and protests.
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Syria

November 23, 2011
Syria’s Uprising and the Path Ahead
- Violence in Syria is escalating, but the country is not yet at the brink of civil war.
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August 18, 2011
USIP Experts Available for Comment on Syria - Experts from the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) are available for comment and analysis as President Barack Obama on August 18 calls on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step aside.
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August 12, 2011
Increasing International Diplomatic Pressure - Steven Heydemann examines the latest diplomactic updates regarding violence in Syria
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July 25, 2011
Mass Atrocities in Syria - Scott Lasensky and Lawrence Woocher discuss the international response to mass atrocities
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May 9, 2011
The Syrian Uprising’s Impact on Lebanon - USIP’s Mona Yacoubian discusses what impact recent political unrest in Syria may have on Lebanon.
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May 9, 2011
Recent Violence in Syria - USIP’s Steven Heydemann discusses the recent violence in Syria.
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April 22, 2011
Developments in Syria - Radwan Ziadeh, a visiting scholar at George Washington University and former Jennings Randolph fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, discusses the recent political developments in Syria.
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April 5, 2011
Syria's Opposition Movement - USIP’s Steven Heydemann discusses the recent developments in Syria.
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March 28, 2011
Upheaval in Syria - Scott Lasensky is the co-author of Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace (USIP Press) and Dealing with Damascus (Council on Foreign Relations). He travels regularly to Syria.
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Yemen

November 23, 2011
USIP Building Bridges in Yemen
- Manal Omar and Colette Rausch are in Sanaa, Yemen meeting with a wide range of stakeholders from across the social, economic, political spectrum to learn the approaches for building peace.
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September 22, 2011
Yemen Teeters on Brink of Civil War...Again -
Steve Heydemann reports from the field.
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September 22, 2011
USIP to Examine Yemen’s Tattered Justice Sector
- Despite some violent flare-ups, Yemen had been relatively quiet for many months. But as demonstrators see the impact that popular uprisings have had in other Arab countries, reformers have become more assertive.
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June 6, 2011
Saleh’s End?
- USIP’s Steve Heydemann writes about what led to Yemeni President Saleh’s departure – and the potential end to his rule.
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May 27, 2011
Yemen Update - YUSIP expert Steven Heydmenn discusses Yemen’s uprising, which began in January with small, peaceful demonstrations, and has now brought the country to the brink of civil war.
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April 25, 2011
Yemeni President Agrees to Cede Power - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to accept a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-brokered plan this weekend that allows him to cede power in exchange for immunity, a government official said. USIP Executive Vice President Tara Sonenshine analyzes the situation and places it in the larger context of the Middle East uprisings.
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April 4, 2011
Women in Yemen's Protests - Amid the upheavals in Yemen, USIP’s Mary Hope Schwoebel discusses the role of women in the political protests and how it is likely to affect their future status.
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March 28, 2011
The Unfolding Situation in Yemen - USIP’s Steven Heydemann, a leading expert on Middle East politics, answers questions about the unfolding situation in Yemen.
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Egypt and Tunisia

December 5, 2011
Egypt in the Eye of a Democratic Storm
- Daniel Brumberg, a senior adviser in USIP’s Center for Conflict Management, analyzes the implications of Egypt’s ongoing parliamentary elections, which began this week.
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November 23, 2011
Protests Spark New Questions Ahead of Egypt's Elections
- Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen explains renewed frustrations in Egypt.
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October 26, 2011
A Democratic, Islamist Tunisia? - Dan Brumberg, Senior Adviser for the Center for Conflict Management discusses the recent democratic elections in Tunisia.
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July 27, 2011
Beyond Tahrir: The Trajectory of Egypt's Transition - A senior figure in Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces spoke at USIP on July 25 about plans to steward the country toward democracy. Read the full event summary.
Read the News Feature

May 31, 2011
The Current State of the Egyptian Opposition - Hesham Sallam, former USIP staffer and doctoral candidate in government at Georgetown University, discusses the recent political developments in post-Mubarak Egypt.
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May 25, 2011
Post-Mubarak Egypt - USIP’s Manal Omar discusses the challenges facing post-Mubarak Egypt and how the international community can best assist its transition to democracy.
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April 28, 2011
Internal Security Agencies in North Africa - USIP’s Bob Perito discusses how internal security agencies must change in countries transitioning from authoritarianism to democracy.
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April 7, 2011
Women and Rural Communities in Egypt - Following longtime leader Hosni Mubarak’s departure, USIP’s Manal Omar traveled to Egypt in early April to assess how the recent turmoil there has impacted rural communities and women.
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March 31, 2011
Transitional Justice in Egypt and Tunisia - Amid the upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa, USIP’s Scott Worden discusses transitional justice in Egypt and Tunisia.
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March 29, 2011
Egypt's Economic Future - USIP’s Raymond Gilpin, co-author of “Defusing Egypt’s Demographic Time Bomb,” discusses how proper management of Egypt’s economy can help ensure a stable future.
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March 15, 2011
Progress and Stability in the Middle East - USIP’s Steven Heydemann describes the progress and challenges facing Egypt and Tunisia and how the U.S. can assist in stablizing the region.
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February 28, 2011
Egypt, Tunisia, and the Constitutional Movement - Egyptians and Tunisians are anxiously waiting to see how their aspirations will be realized in the weeks after the historic popular uprisings. While no component of Egyptian or Tunisian society – governance, politics, security, civil society, and economy -- is likely to be spared scrutiny, special attention will necessarily be paid to the constitution.
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February 18, 2011
Internet Freedom and Social Media - Following the massive protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke about the importance of Internet freedom and social media. USIP’s Sheldon Himelfarb examines how – and how much – the Internet can impact politics and be a force for freedom.
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February 15, 2011
USIP Tracks the Unfolding Situation in Egypt - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned on Feb. 11 after weeks of peaceful protests. USIP takes a comprehensive look at the situation and its implications.
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Israel

May 3, 2011
Israel and the Arab Spring - USIP’s Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen discusses how the Arab Spring could impact Israel.
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May 3, 2011
Palestinian Reconciliation - USIP’s Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen discusses the significance of the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.
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December 31, 2011