Monday, February 27, 2012

The Humanity of Culture

Last night, the Iranian film “A Separation” directed by Asghar Farhadi won the Oscar for best foreign film. This is a fantastic and much-needed victory for the Iranian people. They have had so little to celebrate in recent years, it’s nice that – for at least one night – they have a reason to raise their heads high. Just watch how this one Iranian family reacted to last night's news:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Should We Pay Attention to Jordan?

I spend a lot of time reading about the Middle East. Too much time perhaps. Yet, with so much happening all across the region, I still can barely keep up. So it was a complete surprise when a Jordanian friend told me that the monarchy is in trouble right now in Amman. Here’s what she told me:

First, people are criticizing the monarchy more openly than ever before. For example, check out this interview with a well-known opposition figure, Dr. Ahmed Al-Abadi. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Security Sector Reform

Andrew Exum and Dana Stuster call for a stronger emphasis on security sector reform over at the Sada blog. They argue, “the United States must bolster its relations with nascent democratic institutions like the new parliaments and start with what many of the citizens of these countries are demanding: reform of the internal security services.”

I absolutely agree.

When folks think about supporting political reform, there is a tendency to focus on the institutions that symbolize democracy (parliaments, elections, judiciaries, etc) and the people who demand democracy (activists, journalists, politicians, etc). And of course, that focus is justifiable. But we often lose sight of other less intuitive ways in which we can promote democratic transitions – like engaging with the security services.

Egyptian Central Security Forces take a break. I watched them beat protesters a few minutes later.