Hussein Agha

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Bashar al-Assad by John Springs

The Arab uprising that started in Tunisia and Egypt reached its climax on February 11, the day President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down. It was peaceful, homegrown, spontaneous, and seemingly unified. Lenin’s theory was turned on its head. The Russian leader postulated that a victorious revolution required a structured and disciplined political party, robust leadership, and a clear program. The Egyptian rebellion, like its Tunisian precursor and unlike the Iranian Revolution of 1979, possessed neither organization nor identifiable leaders nor an unambiguous agenda.

Since Mubarak’s ouster, everything that has happened in the region has offered a striking contrast with what came before.…  Seguir leyendo »

The protesters on the streets of Cairo who, in just 18 days, ended the three-decade rule of Hosni Mubarak were not merely demanding the end of an unjust, corrupt and oppressive regime. They did not merely decry privation, unemployment or the disdain with which their leaders treated them. They had long suffered such indignities. What they fought for was something more elusive and more visceral.

The Arab world is dead. Egypt's revolution is trying to revive it.

From the 1950s onward, Arabs took pride in their anti-colonial struggle, in their leaders' standing and in the sense that the Arab world stood for something, that it had a mission: to build independent nation-states and resist foreign domination.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ces deux dernières années, le processus de paix israélo-palestinien a subi de sérieux revers. A l’exception d’un bref et éphémère instant, Israéliens et Palestiniens n’ont eu aucun contact politique direct. Et il existe peu d’espoir, pour le moment du moins, que cette situation évolue.

Les Etats-Unis, mécènes de ce processus, ont vu leur crédibilité sérieusement entamée. L’administration Obama a été rabrouée à maintes reprises – par Israël, à qui elle a demandé un arrêt total de la construction des colonies; par les Palestiniens, qu’elle a pressés de s’engager dans des négociations directes; par les Etats arabes, dont elle espérait qu’ils prendraient des mesures pour normaliser leurs relations avec Israël.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Post asked experts what America should do about unrest in the Middle East. Below are responses from Steven Heydemann, Stephen J. Hadley, Aaron David Miller, Danielle Pletka, Hussein Agha, Robert Malley, Marina Ottaway, Andrew Albertson and Ed Husain.

Arab regimes are reeling from the aftershocks of events in Tunisia. Governments in Egypt and Yemen are the focus of mass protests expressing the anger that many Arab citizens feel toward their leaders. Surprises are possible, but it is most likely that the Egyptian and Yemeni regimes will survive these "days of rage."

After the truncheons have done their work, what are U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

After weeks of fruitless endeavour, the United States has finally – and wisely – given up on its efforts to secure a renewed freeze on Israeli settlement construction in order to relaunch direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Yet, amid speculation over how Israelis and Palestinians might now resume their talks, a reality is taking hold: the point is fast approaching where negotiations between the two will be, for all practical purposes and for the foreseeable future, over. As emissaries are dispatched and ideas explored, discussions could well carry on. But they will have lost all life, energy or sense of purpose.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu might not have been wholeheartedly committed to a peace deal with the Palestinians, but upon taking office several factors tugged him in that direction.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israelis and Palestinians will be sitting at the same table on Thursday, but much more separates them than the gulf between their substantive positions. Staggering asymmetries between the two sides could seriously imperil the talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is the head of a stable state with the ability to deliver on his commitments. Celebrations of supposed institution-building notwithstanding, Palestinians have no robust central authority. Their territory is divided between the West Bank and Gaza. On their own, Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement, however much they might wish to. Israel controls all material assets; Palestinians at best can offer intangible declarations and promises.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Post asked former officials and policy experts whether there is a divide between the Obama administration and the Jewish state. Below are responses from Elliott Abrams, David Makovsky, Aaron David Miller, Danielle Pletka, and Hussein Agha and Robert Malley.

The current friction in U.S.-Israel relations has one source: the mishandling of those relations by the Obama administration. Poll data show that Israel is as popular as ever among Americans. Strategically we face the same enemies -- such as terrorism and the Iranian regime -- a fact that is not lost on Americans who know we have one single reliable, democratic ally in the Middle East.…  Seguir leyendo »

The two-state solution has welcomed two converts. In recent weeks, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, have indicated they now accept what they had long rejected. This nearly unanimous consensus is the surest sign to date that the two-state solution has become void of meaning, a catchphrase divorced from the contentious issues it is supposed to resolve. Everyone can say yes because saying yes no longer says much, and saying no has become too costly. Acceptance of the two-state solution signals continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle by other means.

Bowing to American pressure, Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the last few weeks, three long-frozen conflicts in the Middle East have displayed early signs of thawing. Israel and Hamas may be inching toward a cease-fire that would end attacks by both sides and, perhaps, loosen the siege imposed on the impoverished Gaza Strip. The factions in Lebanon,after a long period of institutional paralysis and a near civil war, have reached a tentative political agreement. And eight years after their last negotiations, Israel and Syria have announced the resumption of indirect peace talks.

That so many parties are moving at the same time in so many arenas is noteworthy enough.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has gone from a violent, intractable, clear-cut duel to a violent, intractable, three-way chess match. Today, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas each fears that the other two will reach a deal at its expense. And each is determined to prevent that outcome.

For Hamas, a rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel represents a threat. The closer Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas move toward a negotiated settlement, and the more they can point to concrete achievements, the more difficult it will be for the Islamists to maintain and expand their support. An effort by Israel to suffocate Gaza, which Hamas now controls, together with attempts by the Palestinian Authority to further squeeze Hamas's infrastructure in the West Bank, where it is under pressure, and to round up its West Bank militants, who are in hiding, also would expose the Islamist movement.…  Seguir leyendo »

The idea that bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can produce a final agreement is dead. Its fate was sealed in part because neither side has the ability to close the gaps between the positions they have taken. The two parties also lack trust. But most of all, neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli political systems possess the requisite degree of coherence and cohesion.On the Palestinian side, the national movement no longer has workable political institutions. It lacks effective leadership and has lost any clear political programme. Rival sources of authority have multiplied. The presidency is in the hands of Fatah, the government in those of Hamas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Overt political debate in the Middle East is hostile to the American occupation of Iraq and dominated by calls for it to end sooner rather than later. No less a figure than King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, arguably the United States' closest Arab ally, has declared the occupation of Iraq "illegal" and "illegitimate". Real intentions, however, are different. States and local political groups might not admit it - because of public opinion - but they do not want to see the back of the Americans. Not yet.

For this there is a simple reason: while the US can no longer successfully manipulate regional actors to carry out its plans, regional actors have learned to use the US presence to promote their own objectives.…  Seguir leyendo »