Political Reform Movements

  • Iranian flag

    Commentary

    Regime Appears Fragile as Iranians Turn Much of Their Ire Inward

    Economic hardship is fueling unrest in Iran. New sanctions stemming from the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal may exacerbate already difficult conditions. Now might be the time to exert maximum pressure on the regime in an effort to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.

    May 21, 2018

  • North Korean defectors living in South Korea hold balloons containing leaflets and CDs denouncing Kim Jong-un near the demilitarized zone north of Seoul, February 16, 2013

    Report

    Options for Flying Contraband into North Korea

    Activist groups in South Korea are seeking improvements in the balloons they use to carry political, religious, and humanitarian materials across the border into North Korea. Balloon delivery techniques have evolved and some have started using hexacopter drones. How effective are these methods?

    Apr 2, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Zhang Dejiang after a vote on a constitutional amendment lifting presidential term limits, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 11, 2018

    Commentary

    China's Strengthening of Communist Party Rule Is Not Just a Power Grab

    Strengthening the leadership role of the Communist Party and removing term limits for President Xi Jinping have raised fears about increasingly authoritarian Chinese politics. While repression may well increase, boosting the party’s influence also increases the chance of badly needed reforms concerning governance and the economy.

    Apr 2, 2018

  • An Iranian scratched flag with a grunge texture

    Commentary

    Unrest in Iran: An Opportunity for Democratic Change

    As the unrest that began in Iran on Dec. 28 begins to wane following a crackdown, it is difficult to assess what may come next. But this is not the first time Iranians have come out on the streets to protest and challenge authoritarian rule, nor will it be the last; the Iranian people have a long history of seeking a democratic political order.

    Jan 14, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, November 1, 2017

    Commentary

    Iran's Efforts to Create Instability Abroad Have Led to Protests at Home

    Iran has spent billions of dollars in its quest to be a regional leader, but its main achievement has been to spark instability across a wide swath of the Middle East. Ordinary Iranians are struggling and protesters are urging a retreat from costly foreign fights and more aid at home.

    Jan 12, 2018

  • A view of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees were living in March 2017

    Q&A

    The Post-Arab Spring Experience: Q&A with Shelly Culbertson

    It's too early to say whether the Arab Spring will turn out to be a success or not. The Arab Spring was about people deciding what they did not want and rising up against it, but they hadn't worked out what they did want. Many of them still have hope.

    Aug 23, 2017

  • The Hong Kong skyline at night

    Report

    Where Is Hong Kong Headed?

    Events such as the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement have shined a spotlight on Hong Kong—and prompted questions. What is the territory's significance to China? And what is its future trajectory?

    Dec 2, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Brexit: What Have We Learned So Far?

    On 23 June 2016, the British electorate defied the expectations of political leaders, financial markets and foreign allies by voting to withdraw from the European Union.

    Sep 26, 2016

  • People hold banners during a March for Europe demonstration against Britain's decision to leave the European Union, in central London, Britain, July 2, 2016

    Commentary

    Time for a Do-Over on Brexit

    As the right of the UK voters to decide on EU membership should be respected, so should their right to change their minds. There is no reason to regard their choice to leave as irreversible.

    Jul 7, 2016

  • Multimedia

    Understanding Brexit

    RAND experts discuss the United Kingdom's historic vote to leave the European Union and the consequences for Britain, Europe, and the United States.

    Jul 6, 2016

  • Officials count the ballots after the polls are closed in Cairo, Egypt, June 17, 2012

    Commentary

    It's Too Soon to Write Off the Arab Spring as a Failure

    Pessimistically declaring the Arab Spring a failure in 2016 would be as naive as optimistically declaring it a success in 2011. Something comes next—but what?

    Jun 15, 2016

  • Dissertation

    Political Leadership in Afghanistan: Identifying and Assessing Determining Factors

    This study explores the factors that lead to a political leader in Afghanistan being defined as "good," "strong," or "popular" -- as well as what needs to be done to improve political leadership for future generations.

    May 20, 2016

  • U.S. and Iraqi officers checking IDs in Baghdad, Iraq, October 2006

    Commentary

    Iraq Reconciliation Requires American Help

    It is time for the United States to step in and take the lead on the crucial process of reconciling the Sunnis with their government in order to bolster the tactical fight against ISIL and to ensure Iraq does not further destabilize.

    May 5, 2016

  • Members of the Tunisian parliament wave flags after approving the country's new constitution in Tunis, January 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Tunisia Is an Arab Spring Success Story

    Tunisia has not unraveled into civil war like Syria or Libya. It has not undergone a counter-revolution that returned it to the autocracy of its pre-revolution days, like Egypt has. Tunisia is fragile, but its success is vital to the long-term stability and societal health of the Middle East.

    Apr 21, 2016

  • Commercial Book

    The Fires of Spring: A Post-Arab Spring Journey Through the Turbulent New Middle East

    This book is a narrative of the author‘s journey through six countries of the Middle East, describing countries, historical perspective, and interviews with revolution and government figures.

    Apr 19, 2016

  • One of the members of the military protecting a demonstration against candidates for a national unity government proposed by U.N. envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon, in Benghazi, Libya, October 23, 2015

    Commentary

    Democracy in the Arab World: Still a Mirage

    From the indignant graffiti scrawled on walls across Tunis to the war-torn neighborhoods of Damascus and Tripoli, the region and the world's hopes of establishing peace and democracy have largely faded.

    Mar 17, 2016

  • Russian news agencies reported that President Putin said the ceasefire in Syria is a real step towards halting the bloodshed and may become an example of action against terrorism, February 22, 2016

    Commentary

    How to Bog Down Putin in Syria

    The lessons from the nearly 200 insurgencies that have taken place since World War II suggest that Russian aid probably will fail to turn the tide in Syria. The Assad regime still faces serious challenges, not the least of which is a lack of legitimacy among the Syrian people.

    Feb 25, 2016

  • Unemployed graduates hold a demonstration to demand the government provide them with job opportunities, in Tunis, Tunisia, January 20, 2016

    Commentary

    Tunisia's Paradoxical Political Union: Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes

    In Tunisia, healthy disagreement between political parties has fostered some real change since the 2011 uprisings and throughout the course of the transition, but the persistent power-sharing dynamics in play aren't advancing democracy.

    Feb 5, 2016

  • Georgy Kvirikashvili, who was nominated for the post of Georgia's prime minister on December 25 after Irakly Garibashvili resigned, delivers a speech on December 28, 2015

    Commentary

    Georgia Needs Support from the U.S. and the West

    Georgia is poised to make big changes to reinvigorate its democracy and economy, but it needs support to deter risks and advance progress. With one-fifth of its territory occupied by Russia and facing risks every day, Georgia needs more Western aid, including military training, technology, and defensive arms.

    Jan 5, 2016

  • A money changer displays U.S. and Iranian banknotes at the Grand Bazaar in central Tehran, October 7, 2015

    Commentary

    Unlocking Iran's Economy

    While Rouhani and his team want Iran's gradual opening, reactionary forces aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, much of the security establishment, and the clergy are likely to stand guard against “anti-revolutionary” tendencies and policies.

    Nov 2, 2015