Middle East & North Africa

529 Items

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Staff Spotlight: Julia Martin

| Spring 2020

To say that the Middle East Initiative (MEI) has shaped Julia Martin’s life would be an understatement. When she was a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, Julia invited a friend to join her for an MEI film screening of The Band’s Visit. Amr accepted. Before long, they became husband and wife, and they are now raising three children together. 

Today, Julia serves as MEI’s Assistant Director, managing its programs, budgets, and strategic planning.

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Spotlight: Tarek Masoud

| Spring 2020

Our Spotlight in this newsletter is on Prof. Tarek Masoud, Faculty Chair of the Middle East Initiative (MEI).  In talking about MEI, Masoud says the Initiative is one of the most important ways in which HKS and Harvard engages with the contemporary Middle East. “It’s a bridge," he says. "My goal to make it into a superhighway.”




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- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Building Bridges with the Middle East

Spring 2020

The Belfer Center’s Middle East Initiative (MEI) is tackling changes in the Middle East with a multi-pronged approach. By bringing together the world’s top academic and policy experts to debate issues at the core of the transformation, and by providing a range of on-campus, field experiences, and other opportunities for students and research fellows, MEI is helping develop the next generation of Middle East leaders and scholars and providing policy-relevant research on challenges facing the region today.

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- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Building Sustainable Relationships, Energy, and Security in the Middle East

Spring 2020

While the Middle East Initiative is focused entirely on the MENA region, several other Center programs are also working on issues related to the Middle East, including Future of Diplomacy, Geopolitics of Energy, and the Managing the Atom.

A mosque stands next to a a damaged building, in Idlib, Syria.

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Analysis & Opinions - Woodrow Wilson Center Press

Bridging the Euphrates? How we Respond to the Idlib Crisis Could Ease or Aggravate Tensions Between Turkey and the SDF

| Mar. 04, 2020

Given that the Turkish-backed SNA has clearly stated their intention to launch another operation against the SDF, how will the US ensure that the ammunition provided to Turkey is not used against the SDF?

Students and other demonstrators hold national flags during a protest to condemn a militia attack on Najaf protesters late on Wednesday night, in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Iraqi officials and activists say multiple anti-government protesters have been shot dead and dozens wounded in clashes with followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq.

AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed

Analysis & Opinions - PRI's The World

Analysis: Iraqi Protesters Will Likely Push Forward Despite Violence

| Feb. 07, 2020

Since last October, Iraqis have staged peaceful anti-government protests throughout Baghdad and the southern provinces. These mass protest movements have drawn attention for their unifying nationalistic rhetoric, their irreverence for traditional societal and political figures, and for their strict adherence to peaceful means in the face of increasing brutality by the government’s forces and paramilitary groups.

Journal Article - Taylor and Francis

Insecurity and political values in the Arab world

| Feb. 05, 2020

Within a few years of the historic Arab uprisings of 2011, popular mobilization dissipated amidst instability in many Arab countries. We trace the relationship between shifting macro-political conditions and individual-level political values in the Middle East, demonstrating that a preference for democracy and political trust are not fixed cultural features of populations but rather can shift rapidly in the face of perceived insecurity. Our empirical analyses employ longitudinal data from the Arab Barometer covering 13 countries and data from the 2015 World Values Survey, which includes both Arab and non-Arab countries in order to benchmark regional developments against global patterns. Our findings contribute to the growing body of research on the political effects of insecurity and oppose culturalist depictions of fixed political attitudes among Muslims in narrow perspectives on the relationship between Islam and democracy.

Analysis & Opinions

Why Trump’s ‘Peace Plan’ Generated Arab Popular Rejection and Official Incoherence

| Feb. 03, 2020

BEIRUT — Since President Donald Trump revealed his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace last Tuesday, Arab states individually and collectively, in their actions and statements, have offered a dizzying array of reactions. These range from approval and mild acquiescence to soft support and absolute rejection. 

The combinations of contradictory actions and statements have been more striking than usual, due to the convoluted political positions most Arab leaders found themselves in. Three Arab ambassadors attended the Washington, D.C. unveiling event that seemed like a post-victory locker room celebration by right-wing Israelis and their fanatic American supporters. A few Arab states issued statements appreciating Trump’s efforts and urging a peace agreement to be forged through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (rather than through this plan’s narrow extremist American-Israeli lineage). And on Saturday night the Arab League summit of foreign ministers issued a collective and “complete” rejection of the plan, noting it would not lead to a just peace because “it does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.”