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Mouin Rabbani


Introduction to Roundtable on Iran Crisis

[Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Image from Wikimedia Commons.]

The cacophony of voices discussing and debating the merits of sanctions against, negotiations with, and war on Iran has been deafening.  For two years the expanding sanctions regime has been presented as an alternative to conflict, while it threatens to be a mere prelude to war. The only remaining question being who would attack Iran on account of its purported nuclear weapons program.  Largely absent from this debate has been analysis based on knowledge of Iranian ...

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United States Should Step Aside as Mideast Broker

[Left to right: Hillary Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas. Image from unknown archive.]

When it comes to Arab-Israeli diplomacy the American monopoly on mediation needs to be terminated. The reason is simple. Washington’s systematic failure over several decades has disqualified it from acting without adult supervision. Rather than the marriage counselor who must be balanced because both spouses are angry, the US is the arbitrator who sleeps with and solicits bribes from the more powerful disputant, and fixes outcomes accordingly. Given the US mantra that it ...

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Prisoner Exchange Levels Hamas, Fatah Playing Fields

[Image from]

News that Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) had reached agreement on a prisoner exchange instantaneously displaced the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) bid for full United Nations membership from the headlines in mid-October. Arguably, Hamas and Israel had a common interest in this regard. More importantly, the Palestinian Islamists, no longer relegated to the margins of the Palestinian UN initiative by the rival leadership in Ramallah, can now resume ...

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Hate Speech Finds a Mainstream Platform

[Image from Washington Post]

It is not often that major international publications respond to crackpot opinion pieces in other newspapers. Yet Robert L. Bernstein’s latest tantrum against the Palestinians, which the Washington Post published instead of steering the author to an extremist website, was so far beyond the pale that The Economist felt compelled to issue a ...

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Abbas's Next Move

[Image from unknown archive]

Mahmoud Abbas’s address to the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September fell considerably short of Yasir Arafat’s electrifying 1974 speech from the same podium. Nor did it compare with Haidar Abdul Shafi’s dignified – and unanswerable – call for justice at the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference. Yet it may come to be seen as a historic turning point in the fortunes of the Palestinian people. Abbas’s agenda was transparent. He was sending the Americans a message: grow a ...

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A Long Season of Change Ahead for Every Arab Nation

[Map of Arab world using national flags. Image from unknown source.]

In the six months since Mohammed Bouazizi immolated himself and set an entire region alight, analysts and observers have swung from issuing death certificates for the established Arab order to concluding that it has managed to withstand the challenge of mass insurrection. Both judgements are premature, and neither is correct. The fundamental reality that is all too often overlooked is that the Arab Spring is a dynamic process, rather than a single season. It will continue ...

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The Year of the Citizen

[From Google Images.]

During the Spring of the so-called Arab Spring, the euphoria that characterized the Winter of 2010/2011 has increasingly given way to more somber attitudes associated with Winter. For those who were expecting a linear progression towards freedom, in which vain autocrats and sclerotic regimes would fall with growing ease and rapidity, despondency is an appropriate response to the increasing ferocity with which ruling elites seek to remain in power. Yet in the life of peoples, ...

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Review Roundtable Part III: Goldstone in Political Context

The political dymamics surrounding the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (commonly known as the Goldstone Report) provide a number of interesting insights into the recent evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It bears recollection that the report was produced during a period when the Palestinian leadership was engaged in what has been characterized as serious permanent status negotiations with Israel. Yet the vast majority of ...

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The Securitisation of Political Rule: Security Domination of Arab Regimes and the Prospects for Democratisation

[Graph of number of successful coups by Arab states. Image from]]

Among the more interesting features of the current wave of uprisings and protests sweeping the Arab world is the general absence of the armed forces from regime efforts to defeat popular challenges to autocratic rule. Even in Libya, where the revolt has taken an unambiguously military character and the Qaddafi regime is additionally confronted with foreign intervention, the regular army has not emerged as a prominent actor. Where senior officers have played a significant ...

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Libya's Significance

[Qaddafi. Image from FoxNews]

With the 42-year reign of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi coming to a seemingly inevitable end, it is worth reflecting on the significance and regional implications of his ouster. Perhaps most importantly, Qaddafi’s removal cannot but result in genuine regime change. Unlike Egypt or Tunisia, Libya does not possess autonomous state institutions or state-sponsored elites with the capacity to force out the leader in order to perpetuate their custodianship of the state. If Qaddafi falls ...

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The Arab Revolts: Ten Tentative Observations

[Arab dictators. Image by Saeb Khalil]

The extraordinary developments in Tunisia and Egypt during the first six weeks of this year, and more recently in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, have inaugurated a revolutionary moment in the Arab world not experienced since 1958. If sustained uprisings continue and spread, it has the potential to develop into an Arab 1848. Based on what we have witnessed thus far, the following observations appear relevant: 1. The Arab world is a fundamentally different beast than ...

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Egypt, Tunisia, and 'The Resumption of Arab History'

[Image from unknown archive]

The recent popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt attest above all to the indomitability of the human spirit, and the extraordinary capacity of collective action to bring out the very best in humanity. In these respects the daring, creativity, discipline, resolve, perseverance and euphoria of the people of Egypt and Tunisia  - while primarily theirs – belongs to us all, joining as they do an endless caravan of successful, aborted, hijacked and failed challenges to ...

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Mouin Rabbani


Mouin Rabbani is a Contributing Editor of Middle East Report and has published and commented widely on Palestinian affairs and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was a Senior Analyst of the Middle East with the International Crisis Group. Previously he worked as Palestine Director of the Palestinian American Research Centre. He is Co-Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine.

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