Michael Wahid Hanna

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As President Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine continues, pressure is mounting to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. | Dmitry Serebryakov/AP Photo

As President Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine continues, pressure is mounting to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism — a move that would apply new sanctions to Moscow and put it on a short list of countries the U.S. treats as pariahs. But while Russia’s atrocious and aggressive conduct in Ukraine deserves both condemnation and a strong response, a state sponsor designation is the wrong tool at the wrong moment.

President Joe Biden has resisted taking this step. Yet Congress, with direction from senior leadership, including  Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is pushing ahead, with bills in  both the House and the  Senate that would designate Russia legislatively.…  Seguir leyendo »

A U.S. F-35 fighter jet flies over the Eifel Mountains near Spangdahlem. The U.S. Armed Forces moved stealth fighter jets to Spangdahlem Air Base a few days ago. The aircraft is considered the most modern stealth fighter aircraft in the world. HARALD TITTEL / DPA / dpa Picture-Alliance via AFP

As Russia’s war against Ukraine grows bloodier and more destructive, and with the expectation of further escalation, there have been calls from current and former officials – including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, members of the U.S. Congress, former North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commanders and various media figures – for the United States or NATO to establish a no-fly zone to protect Ukraine from Russian air attacks. President Joe Biden and the NATO alliance as a whole have stated clearly that a no-fly zone over Ukraine is not an option. The U.S. government and the NATO foreign ministers have taken this measure off the table because establishing a no-fly zone, as with other forms of direct U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A picture taken on 25 November 25 2017, shows the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, after a gun and bombing attack. STR / AFP

In the sweep of events following the 11 September 2001 attacks, the low-level, intermittent jihadist insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is understandably outside the spotlight. While posing a persistent threat to Egypt, Sinai militants have only occasionally attracted significant notice outside the country, usually following spectacular attacks on tourist or other civilian sites. To a degree, the scant attention is a function of isolation: the Egyptian state has made the northern Sinai, the primary theatre of violence, off limits to journalists and researchers.

Though lack of access has hindered understanding of Sinai events, Egypt’s experiences with Islamist militancy, the broad contours of which remain visible from a distance, can still offer insight into how the 9/11 attacks shaped U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this Jan. 29, 2018 file photo, a supporter holds a poster showing President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi in front of the National Elections Authority in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)

As Egypt approaches its upcoming presidential election this month, its allies and critics have largely reconciled themselves to the inevitable re-election of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. The regime has aggressively culled the field of potential competitors through intimidation, harassment, prosecution and detention.

The real struggle for Egypt’s fate will come after the election, when the regime will seek to amend the constitution to extend presidential terms and abolish term limits.

This could present an important opportunity for Egyptian political actors and civil society to focus attention, build alliances and begin the longer-term process of laying the groundwork to restore civilian-led politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egypt is now set to enter arguably its first period of Islamist rule. How long that period lasts and what form it takes is far from determined, a situation highlighted by the protests and violence in Cairo last week. If all goes according to plan — a big "if" in Egypt — Egyptians who believe in a democratic, civil state theoretically have the remainder of President Mohamed Morsi's term of office to get their collective act together.

But practically speaking, the short-term political calendar will not allow them such a lengthy reprieve, with the likelihood of new parliamentary elections in the coming months and the current debate over a new constitution.…  Seguir leyendo »

The fate of one man can sometimes clarify the deepest flaws of a government and of the society it rules. Today in Egypt, on the anniversary of its uprising against Hosni Mubarak, that man is Maikel Nabil Sanad.

Mr. Nabil spent much of the last year in a tiny, fetid cell in El Marg Prison in Cairo, where he went on a hunger strike. He was removed, under guard, to a hospital on New Year’s Day to recuperate. Last week he was pardoned and yesterday he was released. But his fight — and his troubles — are probably not over.

What he has endured already illustrates not just the repressive practices of Egypt’s interim military rulers.…  Seguir leyendo »

As President Obama's July deadline to begin drawing down troops from Afghanistan approaches, the debate in Washington is focused almost exclusively on how rapidly the U.S. military presence should be reduced. But the emphasis on troop levels ignores the more important question of what the administration's political strategy should be for ending the war.

There is no question that the U.S. must leave Afghanistan eventually. But withdrawal must be done in a way that prevents chaos and ensures that America's interests in the region are protected. Current U.S. military tactics, however, are often operating at cross-purposes to the establishment of an effective political strategy for ending the war — a political strategy that to date has been poorly constructed.…  Seguir leyendo »