Interview: Kuwait’s First Elections under the New Emir

A Kuwaiti man casts his ballot in parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kuwait City on April 4, 2024. - Vote-weary Kuwait heads to the polls for the third time in three years on April 4, just months into the reign of a new emir but with no end in sight to the major oil exporter's chronic political paralysis. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)

1. Kuwait has faced political gridlock, resulting in four elections over the past four years and deteriorating social services. In this month’s parliamentary elections, the opposition maintained a 29-seat majority in the 50-member body, closely resembling the previous year’s outcome. What do these results indicate for Kuwait’s political landscape and potential reforms? Hope springs eternal,… Continue reading Interview: Kuwait’s First Elections under the New Emir

Interview: Erdogan’s Last Elections?

A voter casts his ballot during the Turkish municipal elections, in Istanbul on March 31, 2024. - Turkish citizens head to the polls on March 31, 2024, in local elections as the President sets his sights on winning back Istanbul, the country's economic powerhouse, after he was re-elected head of state in a tight contest last year. The latest elections come in the throes of an economic crisis that saw the inflation rate surge to 67.1 percent and the Turkish currency crumble against dollar. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

1. In 2019, the leading opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), won mayoral elections in Türkiye’s three biggest cities—Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir—marking the height of opposition unity under the Nation Alliance (Millet İttifakı). This time, despite the Nation Alliance’s dissolution, the opposition won even more cities in a landslide victory for the CHP not… Continue reading Interview: Erdogan’s Last Elections?

Interview: Russia in the Middle East

Preliminary voting results in the Russian presidential election are displayed on a screen at the Central Election Commission in Moscow on March 17, 2024. - Vladimir Putin secured 88 percent of the first votes counted in Russia's presidential election, the head of Russia's election commission said on March 17, 2024. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

1. Over two years into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russians have just gone to the polls and Ukraine appears set to postpone an election slated for the end of March. In Russia, Putin reportedly spent more than $1 billion on a public relations campaign in the lead-up to the election. What is the significance… Continue reading Interview: Russia in the Middle East

Interview: Iran’s Post-Election Trajectory

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballots during the parliamentary and key clerical body elections at a polling station in Tehran on March 1, 2024. Polling stations in Iran opened on March1 for voting to select members of parliament and a key clerical body, amid fears of a low turnout and with conservatives expected to tighten their grip on power. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

1. At 41%, voter turnout for Iran’s March 1, 2024, parliamentary elections was the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic, indicating a crisis of legitimacy as a hardline faction maintains its nearly two-decades-long grip on power. What is the significance of this election for the domestic political landscape? The poor election turnout was a… Continue reading Interview: Iran’s Post-Election Trajectory

Interview: What Lies Ahead for Türkiye After the Elections?

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets the audiece after a press conference where he announced the new cabinet, in Ankara, Turkey June 3, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC2WB1AS37AP

1. What accounts for the election results, both in terms of Erdogan’s performance and the opposition alliance’s defeat? What will happen to the alliance now?  The election results illustrate that President Erdogan’s campaign narratives of maintaining continuity in tumultuous times, his quest to make Türkiye a powerhouse in international affairs, and the fight against terrorism,… Continue reading Interview: What Lies Ahead for Türkiye After the Elections?

Will Türkiye’s Elections Produce a Change in Leadership and Regional Posture?

Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wave national and AK Party flags during a campaign event ahead of the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections, in Istanbul, Turkey May 9, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC24V0AOG9WM

On May 14, Türkiye will hold its most consequential elections in decades, with implications that extend well beyond its borders. For 21 years, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dominated the country’s politics, reshaping its identity and outlook at home and abroad, while becoming the most recognizable Turkish politician on the global stage in nearly a century.… Continue reading Will Türkiye’s Elections Produce a Change in Leadership and Regional Posture?

Rising Anti-Refugee Sentiment in Türkiye Unshaken by Earthquakes

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan holds up a photo of what he described as a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey as he addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky - HP1EI9K17FV1I

The earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria in February devastated large areas of both countries, killing over 50,000 people and forcing millions from their homes. It was  Türkiye’s worst natural disaster in decades. For Syrian refugees living in the area, it was a double catastrophe. Already forced from their country by war, they now found… Continue reading Rising Anti-Refugee Sentiment in Türkiye Unshaken by Earthquakes

Elections Without Democracy Expose Tunisia’s Political Decline

A voter shows the ink on his finger as he casts his ballot at a polling station during the second round of the parliamentary election in Tunis, Tunisia January 29, 2023. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Just a few years ago, Tunisia was a beacon of political renewal in the Arab world, having both sparked the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions and emerged from them with the region’s only dictatorship-turned-democracy. Yet today, Tunisia is straining under the weight of a broken political system, a beleaguered economy and a disaffected public, including thousands… Continue reading Elections Without Democracy Expose Tunisia’s Political Decline

Could Israel’s New Government Spell the End of the Palestinian Authority? 

Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich shakes hands with Israel's Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir as Israel's new right-wing government is sworn in at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Pool - RC2SFY9T3S1H

Israel’s new government, widely seen as the most far-right in its history, has wasted no time ramping up pressure on the Palestinian Authority. The latest volley of travel restrictions against top officials, financial pressure and construction freezes are not new in themselves. But viewed in the context of statements by members of the new cabinet,… Continue reading Could Israel’s New Government Spell the End of the Palestinian Authority? 

For Nations Abroad, U.S. Midterm Elections Are of Increasing Importance

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Shutterstock (13056644a) Former US President Donald Trump (L), Saudi businessman Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan (C), and Jared Kushner (R) watch the first round of the LIV Golf Bedminster invitational, part of the new LIV Golf Invitational Series, at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, USA, 29 July 2022. The tournament will be held from 29 - 31 July. Former US President Donald Trump at LIV Golf Bedminster invitational Pro-Am, Bedminster, New Jersey, USA - 29 Jul 2022

The elections held in the United States on November 8 were billed as the most crucial midterms in a generation. In a country deeply divided along ideological and party lines, the implications of such polls go well beyond domestic affairs. Polarization at home is seeping into Washington’s policy abroad, meaning that even congressional polls, once… Continue reading For Nations Abroad, U.S. Midterm Elections Are of Increasing Importance

Why Do Young Tunisians Trust the Sea over Their Country?

The month of September ended in tragedy for several families in the small coastal city of Zarzis in southern Tunisia. Around 18 young people went missing during an attempt to reach Europe, believing a tiny boat would carry them to a land of more opportunity. Yet, like many before them, they never reached their destination… Continue reading Why Do Young Tunisians Trust the Sea over Their Country?

Desperately Seeking Stability: Libya, Elections, and Enduring Political Stalemate

It has been a long, hot summer in Libya. Demand for air conditioning has strained the country’s electrical grid, leading to rolling blackouts that have underscored the unity government’s inability to improve the daily lives of its people. With frustration mounting over the ongoing failure of political elites to organize elections, the blackouts prompted well-organized—if… Continue reading Desperately Seeking Stability: Libya, Elections, and Enduring Political Stalemate

Twenty Years of Governance Reform: What’s Next for the MENA Region?

In 2002, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) produced a remarkable and far-reaching document titled the Arab Human Development Report. Written largely by Arab authors, the report mobilized a wealth of data to argue persuasively that the lack of socio-economic development within the Arab region is the product of three fundamental deficits in freedom, knowledge,… Continue reading Twenty Years of Governance Reform: What’s Next for the MENA Region?

Iraq is Moving Toward Civil War

Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr react as they protest against corruption inside the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq July 27, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

IRAQ’S POLITICAL SYSTEM IS nearing irreversible collapse after months of escalatory measures by rival Shi’ite factions have brought the country to the brink of civil war. The trajectory of conflict appears irreversible and would imperil not only the rebuilding of Iraq after years of upheaval but hold implications for stability in the broader region, as… Continue reading Iraq is Moving Toward Civil War