Nusra fighting Islamic State

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham: Al-Qaeda’s Ace in Syria Rebranded

On July 28, 2016 Jabhat al-Nusra declared that it was rebranding itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. This maneuver was announced by the group’s commander Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, who in a spirit of apparent transparency revealed his identity after years of anonymity, dressed as and quoting Osama bin Laden. The decision is a significant shake up within the Syrian[…]

An Egyptian anti-government demonstrator

Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring

Nine months before Mohammed Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University hosted a symposium on Arab media. Much (and not much) has changed in the region’s media landscape since. Understanding the structural and functional characteristics at a historical juncture ahead of the uprisings can help us comprehend what precipitated (and inhibited) the ensuing changes. The[…]


When Hypocrites Take the Hippocratic Oath

Or, Undoing the “Arab Spring” Earlier this month, the White House unveiled its new foreign policy credo: “Don’t do stupid shit.” While many lamented the modesty of this approach, acting with restraint in order to limit iatrogenesis is certainly a worthy goal—and an approach with wide and enduring popular support—in fact, this is the vision[…]


Elections in Syria, Algeria and Egypt: A Theater of the Absurd

Algeria’s presidential election this past April was theater of the absurd–complete with wheelchair-bound President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, age 77, casting a ballot accompanied by his little nephew and grown men in the street kissing portraits of the beloved president. Bouteflika, who’s been in power for 15 years and unable to campaign for himself, was reelected in[…]

Sisi supporters

Egypt Turning a Corner: For Better or For Worse?

Dr. Michael C. Hudson On May 26-8 Egyptians went to the polls to elect a new president–a decisive moment in the tumultuous struggles which followed the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in the uprising of 2010-11. The masses had demanded an end to authoritarianism and the beginning of democracy. But in this election they overwhelmingly voted for the general,[…]


Egypt’s Low Electoral Turnout: The Death Pangs of al-Sisi or the June 30th ‘Revolution’ ?

Today was the second day of the Egyptian presidential election. The election, which comes almost two years after the 2012 presidential election and eleven months after the July 2013 coup, is the most recent and most important step in the current regime’s ongoing attempt to move beyond the discursive as well as the on-the-ground conflict[…]

A rebel under Ibrahim Jathran holds the Cyrenaica flag while standing on a boat at Es Sider port.

Libya: More Good News for People Who Love Bad News

In a recently-published article for The National Interest, I explored the profound depth and scale of the problems facing Libya. That article ended on a cautiously optimistic note: while many of the endemic problems were set to persist indefinitely, there seemed to be a breakthrough between the central government and the Eastern rebels, which would allow[…]


Egypt’s Judiciary Makes a Mockery Out of Justice

Egypt’s military installed government recently intensified its crackdown on the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in an unprecedented manner—judge Saeed Youssef Elgazar sentenced more than 500 of its supporters to death. The ruling came in response to violence in Minya last August, in which a single Egyptian policeman was killed. That violence erupted in the wake of[…]


Ethics and Methods in Conflict

On Wednesday, January 29 in the University of Arizona Student Union’s Kiva Room, the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts and the University of Arizona School of Journalism convened an interdisciplinary panel to talk about issues for academics, journalists, and researchers working in conflict zones: Ethics and Methods in Conflict panel Featuring[…]


Campaign 2014: Of Candidates and Conflicts

The spring of 2014 will be yet another in a restive line of transformative periods in the broader Middle East, for better or worse, as the region’s people continue their political overhaul by electing new presidents, parliaments, and constitution-drafting bodies. Eight Middle Eastern countries have elections scheduled in 2014, and most will proceed without external[…]


Egypt: the Slippery Slope Gets More Slippery

The Muslim Brotherhood is Designated a Terrorist Organization…Again So much for an inclusive political process in the wake of the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. In the immediate aftermath of a deadly suicide bombing on December 24th, which the Muslim Brotherhood condemned, the Egyptian military-backed interim government designated the group a[…]


Egypt & Russia: Will Weapons Warm-up this Cold War Relationship?

After the Obama administration halted the transfer of over $560 million in cash and loan guarantees to support the Egyptian military, it was clear that Egyptian officials would have to find alternate ways to equip their forces. On November 18, the AP reported a statement from Russian Technologies chief Sergei Chemezov, who confirmed a deal[…]


The Middle East & North Africa: Hat Tricks, Power Plays, and Penalties

With 2013 drawing to a close, the MENA region is a volatile mix of peace plans, war strategies, identity consolidation, and individual displacement As the conflict in Syria continues in its third year, the possibility of peace remains uncertain.  With the addition of actors from all over the region and no clearly defined single agenda, the war[…]


Egypt’s “Deep State” Declares Independence

To be clear, the Egyptian military does not aspire towards total control of the state, with all of the responsibilities entailed thereby—what they want, what they have always wanted, is to be beyond accountability to the civilian population, to have their budget immune to external oversight or reduction, to reserve the right to intercede as[…]


Al-Maliki proves that he isn’t a Sissi: U.S.-Iraq Rapprochement

After Nuri al-Maliki was elected prime minister in 2010, several months of wrangling ensued with the Sunni “Iraqiya” bloc, highlighted by a near last minute walkout. Eventually, Iraq’s top officials produced a power sharing agreement that was lauded by world leaders. These days, the 2010 “equal-share” bargain has effectively fallen apart, and without U.S. troops[…]

Guantanamo Sept  11 Trial

Regaining Legality: The Rendition Of Abu Anas Al-Libi

After 12 years of war, it is temping to interpret the increased use of drones in the U.S. counterterrorism campaign as a sign that officials now prefer to kill terror suspects rather than risk lives detaining them. These days, nostalgic interrogators and analysts see drone strikes as the new paradigm in counterterrorism, one with a[…]

Protesters throw stones during a clash between supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mursi, at Ramsis square in Cairo

SISMEC Interviews Ashraf Khalil

SISMEC affiliate Hannah Gaber interviews Ashraf Khalil about the current state of Egypt since the coup against Muhammad Mursi, and the apparent trajectory of the country going forward.     Hannah Gaber (HG): Could you start us off by maybe telling us where you are right now and what you’re working on at the moment?[…]


Halting Weapons, Aiding Narratives in Egypt

Do recent U.S. policies undermine the generals or strengthen their legitimacy? While U.S. policymakers continue to resist defining the transition in Egypt as a coup, in response to the country’s escalating crisis, they have decided to reduce military aid to Egypt. The White House will continue to support the Army’s campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, but has cut hundreds[…]

Protesters burn a replica of the U.S. flag during a demonstration against the capture of Liby in Benghazi

Abu Anas Arrested: But will a too-late victory for America hasten the early demise of Libya?

Image: Libyans burn an American flag in protest of al-Libi’s “kidnapping” On October 5th 2013, in a joint operation between the CIA and U.S. Special Forces, the United States captured and extracted Nazih Abdul-Gamed al-Ruqai, known popularly as Abu Anas al-Libi (not to be confused with the late Abu Yaya al-Libi of AQSL). Abu Anas[…]


Doctors Crossing Borders…Out of Somalia

After 22 years, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is leaving Somalia due to consistent attacks on their staff Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders has determined that it   must leave Somalia because it has become too dangerous for their staff to continue working in the failed state.  Increasing attacks against aid workers[…]


Resurrecting the Dead: A Return to Outdated Domestic Policy

Charles Mink As of mid September 2013, the Egyptian military regime has reinstituted domestic policies designed to suppress violent Islamic groups and their influence on the Egyptian population. On September 12, 2013, President Adly Mansour announced the extension of the country’s state of emergency for another two months, calling the decision an essential precaution in[…]

The War for Egyptian National Identity: An Inside Perspective

Marina Shalabi June 30th 2013 Anti-Morsi protest: about 30 of us were holding a large Egyptian flag as we marched to the Presidential palace in attempt to seek back the freedom and will of the people. Egyptian men and women of all ages, religions, and social classes surrounded me. The sounds of what seemed to[…]

Egyptian-Hamas Relations: An Icy Cold Front Settles In

Is Another “Coup” in the Forecast? Since the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in July, relations between the interim Egyptian government and Hamas, the ruling Palestinian faction in Gaza, have cooled considerably. The temperature dropped further this week when for the first time, the Egyptian naval police fired on Palestinian fishermen, a practice that[…]


Shallow Democracy v. Deep State: An Archaeology of the Crisis in Egypt

A week after carrying out his ultimatum to depose President Mursi, General al-Sisi delivered a new 48-hour ultimatum to those alienated by his actions to end their protests against the military coup.  Even as the general demanded that the protesters end their demonstrations, he called upon his own supporters to take to the streets nationwide[…]