MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

Since the January 2011 uprising, the Egyptian economy has been floundering. Economic growth has averaged a dismal 2.5 percent a year, the average unemployment rate has been close to 13 percent, with youth unemployment reaching 35-40 percent, and inflation in the double digits.

Read More

The Turkish town of Kilis, located just three miles from the Syrian border, has come under rocket fire from Islamic State (ISIS) controlled territory in Syria. The intensity of the rocket attacks increased since April putting upward pressure on the Turkish government to address the threat. According to an on-going Atlantic Council study, the rockets have hit as far north as the Atatürk neighborhood and the city’s southern neighborhood of Kazancıoğlu. In all cases, ISIS used katyusha rockets, an inaccurate and unguided 107mm or 122mm rocket that has a range of between 12 and 20 miles. For the purposes of this study, the Tekke Mosque – which has been hit by rocket fire and lies at the center point between these two neighborhoods – was used as a reference to measure distances into Syria, in order to locate potential ISIS firing points. The resulting data underscores the inherent challenges of defending civilian population areas from indiscriminate rocket fire, and of the extent to which elements of the Syrian civil conflict have spilled over the border.

Read More

Libya’s UN-brokered Presidency Council and Government of National Accord (GNA), which arrived in Tripoli at the end of March amid tensions, faces many challenges. Chief among them is that it does not take advantage of a political culture that has long been a main source of state legitimacy in Libya. The basic elements of contemporary Libyan society are the extended family, village, clan, and tribe, and any agreement not grounded in them threatens to further divide Libya and worsen the factional violence.

Read More

Iraq is facing a severe economic crisis, but political elites and their popular constituencies stand ready to block desperately needed economic reforms.

Read More

In late March, Egypt’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Magdi al-Agati, indicated that the government would soon submit to parliament a new law regulating the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country. According to Agati, the proposed law will make it easier for Egyptian civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate and defend the rights of citizens in keeping with the constitution’s “liberal philosophy.” He added that NGOs will be able to “perform their activities with complete freedom.”

Read More

President Barack Obama’s meeting with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Saudi Arabia this week is a previously scheduled follow-up to last year’s Camp David meeting, which notably secured the Gulf states’ passive endorsement of the Iran nuclear deal. There is no comparable deliverable expected this week, and the case for low expectations is made stronger by President Obama’s limited time remaining in office. Indeed, the most important accomplishment of this week’s Riyadh meeting may be that it is held at all.  It should serve as a signal to internal and external audiences that despite differences and grievances on both sides, the partnership between the United States and the GCC remains important. This is not an insignificant message, given the state of the region and the tenor of recent Washington commentary.

Read More

The talks at the GCC summit this week provide an opportunity for President Barack Obama to address the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The delegation representing the Houthis and ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) delegations finally turned up today for peace talks in Kuwait, but the prospects for ending the war soon are hanging by a thread. Obama’s visit to the region could keep the possibility alive by encouraging Saudi Arabia to adhere to the ceasefire whether or not the talks produce immediate results.

Read More

Ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to the GCC Summit in Riyadh, the focus from the White House is all on the immediate. In what is likely the last trip to the Gulf of the Obama presidency, issues like the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) and Iranian regional activities dominate. The agenda for the summit is, however, limited by the short-term scope of its ambitions, and little mind is being paid to how to move forward once these initial objectives are achieved. This might be natural for a President who only has eight months left in office, but it represents a chronic symptom of the American relationship with the Gulf states that hinders the relationship from rising to its full potential.

Read More

The beginning of a UN-mediated ceasefire in Yemen on April 10 comes at a critical time for Yemeni, Gulf Arab, and UN diplomats. For the first time since December 2015, the warring parties are preparing for the resumption of comprehensive, face-to-face peace talks. As it stands, the talks have already been delayed due to ongoing fighting. Delegations representing the Houthis and supporters of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh did not arrive at the talks on Monday, accusing the Saudi-led coalition of not abiding by the April 10 ceasefire. UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheik Ahmed, in the meantime, is trying to salvage the diplomatic process for an opening round of talks later this week.

Read More

Thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo and elsewhere on April 15 to demonstrate against the transfer of two islands from Egyptian control to Saudi Arabia. They were the largest non-Islamist demonstrations since the forced removal of former president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013 by the military. Then, as Defense Minister, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was proclaimed as ‘savior’ by a large swathe of anti-Islamist opinion – today, among former supporters, he faces small but significant opposition over his presidency. The protests on Friday are not simply about the islands, however – and the response from the state remains interesting. The question is, what happens next?

Read More