A very real challenge of state-building — particularly in areas devoid of institutionalized democracy — is striking the right balance between strong top-down leadership and social inclusivity. The cold efficiency of executive authority and the beautiful chaos of pluralism. Lean too heavily in either direction, and you may wind up with either a dangerous precedent of quasi-authoritarianism or a political system paralyzed by protracted and irreconcilable debate.
Josh is a graduate of James Madison University where he earned a degree in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Communities. After spending his junior year studying at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, Josh moved to Tel Aviv to serve as a volunteer coordinator for Amnesty International’s Israel Section, working to promote awareness of Israel’s less-talked about humanitarian crisis: the influx of African refugees.
More recently, Josh was a Legislative Assistant at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). He has also published articles in the Michigan Journal of Publish Affairs and the James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal. Currently, Josh is a Research Assistant with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.
It's not entirely clear why Khaled Said, a 28-year-old Egyptian, was approached by police on June 6 while sitting in a cyber cafe in Alexandria. Nor is it known why those particular security officers felt compelled to drag Said outside and, without any sort of provocation, beat him to death.
When I hear of news like Noam Chomsky's recent kerfuffle with Israeli border security — an all-too-predictable episode of state-level hypersensitivity manifesting in the form of draconian policy — I'm reminded of a book written by Marc Ellis about post-Holocaust Jewish liberation theology. A bit of a jump, I know, but bear with me.
You may not suspect it, but the Middle East is pretty wired these days. Increasingly so, in fact. By some estimates, the region has the second fastest-growing Internet market in the world. Around 60 percent of Arab youths between 18 - 24 use computers on a regular basis. Four out of five own mobile phones.
For policymakers seeking an entry-point to engage the Middle East in dialogue, there may be an opening created by the apparent disillusionment of many ME societies with both Islamist groups and Muslim leaders.
In light of the encouraging reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be moderating his position toward peace, I wanted to bring attention to this revealing New York Times article published on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Not out of some desire to counter good news with bad.
In the season for anniversary retrospectives, Juan Cole – professor of history at the University of Michigan and president of the Global Americana Institute – has done a great service by compiling a list of the "Top Ten Good News Stories from the Muslim World in 2009 that You Never Heard About."
Straight from the annals of the wildly absurd, we have this lovely tale of a American student named Lily Sussman who had her laptop shot – not once, not twice, but three times – by Israeli Border Police as she attempted to enter the country from Egypt. Who knew that Israel had such a warm welcoming committee at the Taba crossing?
So the big news in the greater Middle East region today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, is the announcement of President Obama's reformulated Afghanistan strategy. There are any number of ways to interpret this policy revision, but it's probably important to start with a few basic facts, such as a simple linear timeline of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan during Obama's tenure in office.