U.S. policy should not be hamstrung by a narrow focus on democratization, writes Seth G. Jones. More than ever, the United States and its allies should think first about protecting their vital strategic interests in Egypt and the region.
The Egyptian military, still bruised from its last stint in power, is likely to proceed with caution this time around. If it does intervene, it will likely seek some acquiescence from the Islamists and will want to quickly form an inclusive caretaker government.
Rebel, or Tamarud
, is a petition drive aimed at ousting President Morsi by collecting more signatures calling for his resignation than the number of votes he received in the 2012 elections. On June 30, the organizers will take to the streets in a rally that is likely to touch off clashes with security forces and Morsi's supporters.
The governor of the Egyptian city of Luxor, Mohamed El-Khayat, resigned amid protests last week, just days after being appointed to the post by President Mohamed Morsi. His selection was controversial due to his affiliation with an Islamist terror group that in 1997 killed 62 people in Luxor, many of them tourists.
In the March 2013 Congressional Briefing, Jeffrey Martini, a Middle East analyst at RAND, discusses data from Egyptian elections in the post-Mubarak era. After his presentation, he is joined for a panel discussion by Michele Dunn from the Atlantic Council and Samer S. Shehata from Georgetown University.
While much has been written on the electoral strength of Islamists in Egypt, most of the analysis has been done at the national level, ignoring regional divides within the country. A new report identifies the areas where Islamist parties run strongest, and the areas where non-Islamists are most competitive.
The clock is ticking for Libya's future, writes Christopher Chivvis. Libya's government is dysfunctional, armed militias control much of the country, and the population is increasingly frustrated with the pace of postwar progress.
Like it or not, the United States counts among its allies a number of authoritarian Arab countries, and they are essential partners in protecting its interests, writes Seth G. Jones. The normative hope that liberal democracy may flourish in the future must be balanced by the need to work with governments and societies as they exist today.
The Egyptian process left no room for broad deliberation of the constitutional issues, or even for educating citizens about the text of the document on which they were asked to vote, writes Laurel Miller.
If there ever was a honeymoon in Egypt's post-Mubarak politics, it is long over. The two main ideological camps—Islamists and secular-liberals—have shown a willingness to cooperate only when brought together by a common foe, writes Jeffrey Martini.
The longer this war drags on, the more radicalised become the insurgents, the more brutalised the population, the more inflamed the sectarian passions, and the more destabilised neighbouring societies, writes James Dobbins.
Many transitions around the world in recent decades have been just as chaotic, yet 180-degree returns to autocracy have been exceedingly rare, writes Laurel Miller.
At RAND's recent Politics Aside 2012 event, Ambassador Charles Ries, Vice President, RAND International, talks with Karen Elliott House, Alireza Nader, and David Rohde about what we can expect for the Middle East in 2013 and what it means for the United States and for the world.
The roots of the unrest are not in the desire to cast off authoritarian regimes that took expression in Arab Spring protests. The roots came before the uprisings, and progress will take longer than we wish, writes Laurel Miller.
The Muslim Brotherhood is falling into the same trap of overreach exhibited by the Egyptian military when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) held the reins of authority during the first 16 months of the transition, writes Jeffrey Martini.
As a case of military intervention, Libya does not tell us much about how useful the lower-cost, lighter footprint adopted there can be under more challenging conditions, or when the objective is broader and more transformational, as was the case at the outset in Iraq and Afghanistan, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.
In this October 2012 Congressional Briefing, Laurel Miller and Jeffrey Martini discuss the challenges to democratization that Arab countries are likely to face in coming years and how the international community can help overcome such challenges.
Given Syria's complex society and external ties, the West should happily settle for a stable government not dominated by Russia or Iran, and not in military conflict with its neighbors, including Israel, writes Harold Brown.
Qaddafi is gone, but if violence spreads, it could call into question the no-footprint post-conflict model that the United States and its allies chose after last year's intervention, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.
The US needs a more activist, assertive policy toward Syria aimed at ending the conflict in such a way that bolsters regional stability and facilitates a peaceful democratic transition, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Wasif Syed.
The countries that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi a year ago have a special obligation to ensure the new Libyan government gets all the help it needs to respond to these new threats effectively, writes Christopher Chivvis.
Morsi's moves were certainly dramatic, and he may not be done. He has "decreed" that he has the right to select the next Constituent Assembly—deciding the constitution—if this one fails or is disbanded, writes Julie Taylor.
Well-meant advice and promises of postwar aid will mean much less in forging a relationship with the eventual rulers of Syria than decisive assistance now, writes James Dobbins.
The Obama administration has led international efforts to isolate and sanction those most responsible for the regime's violence, and those efforts—along with diplomacy to bring Russia and China along—should be strengthened, write Dalia Dassa Kaye and David Kaye.
The United States' ability to shape future events in Syria will only be as great as the support it gives the rebels in their fight to topple Assad, writes James Dobbins.
The most likely outcome, in my opinion, may be no outcome at all, but instead a civil war lasting years. The conflict has become an existential struggle for its participants—their survival is at stake, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
The changes underway in the Arab world may lead to various possible destinations that differ both from their points of departure and from liberal democracy, write Laurel Miller and Jeffrey Martini.
Mohamed Morsi's victory is a huge step in Egypt's political development, but his authorities were recently curtailed by the military and it is unclear how much power he will actually wield, writes Jeffrey Martini.
The Muslim Brotherhood now faces a choice. It can seat Mursi and continue to legitimate a post-Mubarak transition that seems designed to advance the narrow interests of Egypt's officer corps. Or it can return to the streets with the aim of unseating the military council, writes Jeff Martini.
Just as before the disqualifications, the fundamental decision voters face is about the scope and nature of the change Egypt will undergo in the coming years. And there are still candidates representing almost every position on that spectrum, writes Jeffrey Martini.
While NATO countries and allies like Jordan and Qatar have started to train and equip the security forces, there is more that outsiders can do to help, writes Frederic Wehrey.
If the Syrian opposition clearly asks for American help, if the rest of the Arab world supports such a military intervention, and if America's European allies prove ready to join in—and indeed lead—such an effort, the United States should contribute those military assets which only it can provide, writes James Dobbins.
The Arab Spring demonstrated that leaderless revolutions are difficult to repress or co-opt. Unfortunately, it is also true that leaderless revolts find it difficult to make transition to authority, writes Charles Ries.
The days and weeks after a victory like this are a golden hour that set in motion either a virtuous cycle of increasing security and economic growth, or a downward spiral into insecurity, factionalism and economic chaos, write Christopher S. Chivvis and Frederic Wehrey.
A typical Iranian has many reasons to disobey the government, whether he or she is young, an ethnic minority, a poor teacher or laborer, or a struggling student, writes Alireza Nader.
The SCAF's attempts to curtail dissent and the democratic process have fueled doubts about its true intentions. Will the military fulfill its promise to support democracy? Or will it seek to replace Mubarak's rule with its own or that of a friendly autocrat? write Jeffrey Martini and Julie Taylor.
If Libya is to have a chance of replacing Qaddafi with something better, the United States, its allies, and the rest of the international community will need to pivot very quickly from the rather straightforward requirements of war fighting to taking seriously the complex and demanding tasks of peace building, write James Dobbins and Frederic Wehrey.
In this June 2011 Congressional Briefing, RAND researchers discuss the growing body of creative works produced by Arab authors and artists that counter the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of violent extremism, factors that thwart the distribution of such works, and policy recommendations for overcoming those barriers.
Assisting Arab democratic transitions will not eliminate religious extremism. But successful transitions would directly challenge the jihadist brands that promote attacks on America, writes Julie Taylor.
The Iranian regime faces immense internal and external pressures that are coming to the surface in surprising ways. Indeed, the relative calm prevailing now may be a sign of the great storm to come, writes Alireza Nader.
The unanswered question is just what will endure in the Arab world: comparatively peaceful demonstrations leading to regime change, or brutal tactics by authoritarian regimes to crush dissent and cling to power, writes John Parachini.
If some measure of democracy does result, the elected governments likely will reflect the popular antipathy that the "Arab street" has for both the United States and Israel, writes David Aaron.
The countries in a possible "second wave" of Arab revolutions have dim prospects for consolidated democracies. Other than tribes, Libya essentially has no civil society, and it has a long-isolated educated class. Yemen has civil society organizations but fewer well-educated individuals, writes Julie Taylor.
The long-term objective of a train-and-equip program for the Libyan revolutionary government would be to create a professional military force in a post-Qaddafi Libya that could support democratic institutions free of extremist elements, writes Angel Rabasa.
What has been happening in North Africa this year, in what seems to be the leading edge of a great wind of change sweeping the Arab world, will require the Europeans (along with the U.S. and others) to be deeply and durably engaged there — economically, politically and in humanitarian terms, writes Robert E. Hunter.
Pushing the European allies, especially Britain and France, to take more responsibility in managing crises would reduce the costs and burdens on the United States while providing an incentive for the Europeans to take defense more seriously, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.
What the United States did in Bosnia might hold the key for an effective response to the crisis in Libya, writes Angel Rabasa.
The Turkish model—with its emphasis on secularism and democracy—has obvious appeal in a region burdened by corrupt, autocratic, incompetent, and inefficient governments. But Turkey's historical experience and political evolution differ in important ways from Arab countries', writes F. Stephen Larrabee.
The U.S. government is historically adept at tactics, but what President Obama needs are more people with a broader perspective. That includes engaging outsiders with a solid background in the Middle East, writes Robert E. Hunter.
The question, then, is whether stopping the fighting—which could also require forcibly removing Qaddafi—is worth the price of deep military engagement and responsibility for Libya's postwar future, writes Robert E. Hunter.
We have learned over the past couple of decades that it is deceptively easy for the world's only superpower to topple objectionable regimes—but a good deal harder to replace them with something better, writes James Dobbins.
Fred Wehrey, senior policy analyst, and Charles Ries, senior fellow and director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy, spoke with RAND media relations director Jeffrey Hiday about the conflict in Libya, including various options for international engagement.
Much of what we know—or think we know—about the Muslim Brotherhood's ambitions, beliefs and history is clouded by misperceptions, writes Lorenzo Vidino.
The U.S. and its allies could help Libyans communicate with the outside world by deploying cellphone base stations on aircraft or tethered balloons, write Dan Gonzales and Sarah Harting.
The recent unrest may not be undermining U.S. policies toward Iran as much as some suggest, and Iran may have much to fear from the tumult in Middle East politics, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.
The new, post-Qaddafi era is likely to be marked by the emergence of long-suppressed domestic groups jostling for supremacy in what is sure to be a chaotic political scene, writes Frederic Wehrey.
RAND experts provide an audio discussion of the humanitarian and diplomatic challenges present in the revolt in Libya, the role of the Islamic Brotherhood in the events in Egypt, and the effects of the growing strife in the Middle East on Iran.
The only route out of the current impasse may be a fully functioning and pluralistic parliament like the one that enabled Bahrain's golden days, writes Frederic Wehrey.
The most favorable outcome achievable in Egypt might be what we see in Iraq, but without the violence, writes Harold Brown.
Continuing support for the Egyptian military will be crucial for U.S. influence and for an evolution in Egypt that can meet American interests, writes Robert E. Hunter.
There is no clear political party or leader ready to step in if the regime in Egypt falls. However, this protest is not without leadership; it is spearheaded by a large network of Egyptian human rights groups and other citizens, writes Julie Taylor.