They’re exhilarating, of course. But from an American perspective, the revolutions transforming the Middle East are also deeply sad. They’re sad because they underscore what a terrible waste the last decade of American foreign policy has been. Since September 11, the United States has spent more than $1 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars have cost thousands of young Americans their lives and maimed many more. And for what? We were told (and I, for one, believed) that in jihadist terrorism we faced a threat of epic military and ideological power. We were told that unless we toppled anti-American regimes and imposed American ideals, the military and ideological balance would tip decisively in our enemies’ favor. “I will not wait on events,” vowed George W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address. We were told to wage war because time was not on our side.
Western decision makers would be worried enough about what might emerge from massive popular revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and from the simmering conflicts in Bahrain and Yemen, but they’re also contemplating the prospect that similar unrest could spread far outside the Arab world, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe.
Whoever Libya’s new rulers turn out to be, their challenge will be to learn from the lessons of its recent sad history, and then to move resolutely forward with compromise and wisdom—qualities that the Gaddafi regime came to lack so abjectly.
As revolutions across the Mideast bring religious parties within sight of real political power, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming the region’s go-to man for Islamist leaders looking for a makeover. Tunisia’s exiled Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi, who is scheduled to visit Ankara in March, believes that Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has shown others how to “align Islam with modernity,” pointing a path from the political wilderness to the mainstream. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is also following in Erdogan’s footsteps, setting up a moderate Freedom and Justice Party—which will include members of the Coptic Christian minority—to run in upcoming elections. Morocco’s Islamists have borrowed the Justice and Development Party’s name. In Jordan, too, the Islamic Action Front has called for King Abdullah to look to “the Turkish model.” A recent study conducted by the Istanbul-based TESEV think tank found that 75 percent of Arab respondents considered...
George Clooney proved that his pet project—bringing political change to war-torn Sudan—isn’t just a charity cause when he was arrested in Washington D.C. while protesting at the Sudanese Embassy. Clooney has made his case to high-powered individuals such as Bill Clinton. John Avlon exams how George Clooney is helping to bring change—and a hefty dose of hope—to Sudan.
Lara Logan kept going back to war, even after coming under enemy fire, even after an antitank missile struck her Humvee in Iraq and the soldier next to her lost his leg. Having children, however, changed her.
Irish voters look sure to punish their political masters in this week’s election. Polls suggest that the ruling Fianna Fáil government, widely blamed for the economic trauma of the past three years, will gain barely 15 percent of the vote, down more than 20 points from the last election in 2007.
It’s probably best not to even try making sense of Beijing’s pronouncements on the 14th Dalai Lama and other Tibetan spiritual leaders: you’ll only make your head hurt. Last week the officially atheist Chinese government’s State Administration for Religious Affairs disclosed plans to enact a new law forbidding the 75-year-old Buddhist deity to be reborn anywhere but on Chinese-controlled soil, and giving final say to Chinese authorities when the time comes to identify his 15th incarnation.
King Abdullah of Jordan has the good—or perhaps bad—fortune to have his prosaic memoirs published just as the Middle East is engulfed in momentous changes that began in Tunis a month ago, spread to Cairo, and now reverberate in other capitals, including, in a still-small way, his own.
To see firsthand how the momentous changes in Egypt are playing out, a NEWSWEEK writer and a photographer traveled by train from Alexandria to Aswan, a journey of roughly 1,100 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea through the Sahara.
A hundred years ago, Egyptians looked down on Turks: "etrak bi itrak," ran the pun. “Turks are clods.” Egyptians had Westernized first, had a modern Army that defeated the Turks twice, and then got a huge amount of money from the tolls of the Suez Canal.
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, reached historic heights by gaining 18 percent of France’s vote in the first round of the 2012 presidential election—making her a potential kingmaker. In February 2011 profile, Tracy McNicoll explains why Le Pen is not exactly Daddy’s girl.
When revolution came to Cairo, two groups panicked: Hosni Mubarak’s regime—and cable-TV bookers, who needed an infusion of Egypt experts. Qualifications: know Egypt well, ad-lib with aplomb, and speak without an impenetrable accent. Many answered the call. Here are some of the most omnipresent.
When Marta Vieira da Silva was 10, a skinny tomboy in Dois Riachos, her hometown in the Brazilian dust bowl in the northeastern state of Alagoas, her team coach gave her a new pair of football boots. They were three sizes too big. “I can take them back,” he offered. “No! They’re perfect,” she shot back. It was her first pair of cleats, and she wasn’t about to let them go.
By now, it’s clear that social media has played a critical role in fomenting and sustaining public protests across the Middle East. The Facebook page set up by Google executive Wael Ghonim—which racked up nearly 400,000 followers before a single protester entered Tahrir Square—has been credited with almost single-handedly starting Egypt’s revolution. An overstatement, perhaps—but as Hillary Clinton warned a group of U.S. ambassadors at the height of the Egyptian protests, “social media is going to change things.” If the U.S. isn’t on top of driving the message, she said, “we are going to be left behind.”