NSN Middle East Update

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NSN Middle East Update

Over a year into what was then called the Arab Spring, a number of important analyses and reviews appeared this week exploring the role and responses of the international community. Last year continues to provide challenging lessons from Egypt – where the exclusion of three top presidential candidates represents either a triumph of the rule of law or political interference – to Syria, where the first UN military observers are on the ground even as bloodshed apparently continues and Washington and its partners debate options for a “Plan B.”


The United Nations has reached a deal with Syria outlining the rules for the deployment of observers to monitor the country’s ceasefire. The first six observers are on the ground, and a senior UN official today urged the Security Council to send more rapidly. This comes as a nominal truce has been in place, though with reports of continued violence. Meanwhile, Washington policymakers are looking for a “Plan B,” as military leaders remind that there are no easy solutions or “silver bullets.”


UN and Syria Agree on Observer Protocol

BBC, 4/19/12

Pentagon: ‘No silver bullet’ for Syrian crisis

Associated Press, 4/19/12

U.N. Chief Says Syria is Failing to Adhere to Peace Plan

New York Times, 4/19/12

Obama Administration Searches for a ‘Plan B’ in Syria

The Cable 4/18/12

Commentary and Analysis

Would ‘Plan B’ For Syria Require the USA to Bypass the Security Council?

Mark Leon Goldberg, UN Dispatch, 4/19/12

Cautious Hope for Syria

Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark, 4/13/12

Annan’s Syria Plan the Only Game in Town

Michael Wahid Hanna, Middle East Channel, 4/12/12



Egypt’s political environment experienced an earthquake, which observers characterize as either a brave application of the rule of law, or a narrow legal reading to rein in popular figures:  the independent electoral commission blocked three of the most popular and polarizing candidates from next month’s presidential race: Omar Suleiman, the former spy chief under Hosni Mubarak; Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist; and Khairat el-Shater, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Amr Moussa, the former foreign minister and Arab League General Secretary, offered his 100-day plan for his first days in office.


Egypt Panel Affirms Ban on 3 Candidates for President

New York Times, 4/17/12

Egypt’s Moussa Steps Up Campaign, Launches Manifesto

Reuters, 4/18/12

Commentary and Analysis

Egypt’s Transition Imbroglio

Nathan J. Brown, Foreign Policy, 4/16/12

Analysis: Egypt in Tough Final Leg of Transition

Tom Perry, Reuters, 4/12/12

Around the Region

A number of important conferences and papers looking back at the Arab Spring point to key pieces of unfinished business, from legal reforms and the rule of law to specific challenges such as Bahrain, and how they have spillover consequences for the rest of the region and for U.S. policy going forward.


The Legal Dimensions of the Arab Spring, keynote speech

Cherif Bassiouni, George Washington University, 4/18/12

A Year in Tahrir: The Future of the Arab Spring and Its Implications in the US

National Security Network, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and Wayne State University Law School, 4/19/12

Bahrain: Flawed reforms: Bahrain Fails to Achieve Justice for Protesters

Amnesty International, 4/17/12

Making the Arab League Matter

Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark, 4/8/12

A Second Chance for Algeria’s Islamists

Karina Piser, Foreign Policy, 4/18/12

NATO Sees Flaws in Air Campaign Against Qaddafi

Eric Schmitt, New York Times, 4/14/12

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