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Down but Not Out: Youth and Revolution in Egypt and Beyond

The revolutionary wave of the 2011 Egyptian uprising is still being felt across the Arab region, even if just with less strength and influence. Although over half of the Egyptian population is under 25 years old, TCF fellow Thanssis Cambanis says that the Revolutionary Youth Coalition that is doggedly protesting for economic, social, and political reform is comprised of members ranging from young to old. "Youth is a state of mind," concedes one middle-aged Egyptian activist, proving that members from all demographics are pushing for a radical paradigm shift of the state.

Nevertheless, a set of new political ideas and processes has been unleashed in the Arab revolts. The energy of young street protesters catalyzed a moment of revolutionary potential, a moment that shattered the assumption of regime staying power and opened the way for competitive politics and new ideologies. That fundamental idea—that a peaceful popular movement can replace a repressive state with a responsive, democratic, just and egalitarian polity—has survived today in a battered condition.

Read Cambanis' full article from World Politics Review.

Tags: revolutionary youth coalition, reform, egyptian uprisings, egyptian revolution, arab spring

The End of Benjamin Netanyahu?

TCF fellow Michael Cohen asks the question, are we going to see a political shift in Israel in the near future? He explains that the left-wing political parties who have been traditionally unorganized and weak have began to give three-term Prime Minister Netanyahu a run for his money. Approximately 60% of Israelis would also like to see new leadership, which is likely attributed to Israel's decline in stability as a state.

But here’s why all of this matters for the United States: The future of the two-state solution could be hanging in the balance. A Netanyahu win would make any agreement in the next four years between Israel and the Palestinians practically unimaginable. Netanyahu appears to have little interest in talks, and the Palestinian leadership has even less interest in sitting down with him. His reelection would mean more settlements, more polarization, and a steady move further away from a resolution to the conflict.

Read the full article.

Tags: netanyahu, israel palestine peace, israel, elections

The Arab Spring Was No Failure, Says One Activist Who Refuses to Give Up

TCF senior fellow Michael Wahid Hanna comments on Iyad el-Baghdadi’s continuing fight for the dream of the Arab Spring. While disagreeing with el-Baghdadi’s take on the Arab Spring, Hanna praised the activist’s efforts, telling PRI:

People engaged in earnest efforts to reform political culture are necessary precursors to something much broader happening.

That much seems certain. Read the full article for more of Hanna's insights.

Tags: pri, iyad el-baghdadi, arab spring

Documenting the heart of darkness

TCF fellow, Thanassis Cambanis has been mentioned in an article about ISIS on The Boston Globe.

I can’t watch the videos of the Islamic State beheading people. Perhaps I should, because if the purpose of documentary film is to record reality, these epitomize the genre. They show, unfiltered, the reality of human evil.

They also advertise their cause to anyone who might watch such atrocities and find them appealing. Or so suggest many propaganda experts and analysts.

Instead of putting a positive spin on their barbarism, as did Leni Riefenstahl with “Triumph of the Will” (1935) for the Nazis, these spots work as recruiting tools targeting whatever demographic might enjoy medieval acts of savagery. It’s as if the Third Reich had somehow accessed “Night and Fog,” Alain Resnais’s 1955 soul-blasting documentary about the Holocaust, and used it to attract followers.

Read the full article.

Tags: terrorism, syria, middle east, jihadists, islamists, islamic state of iraq and syria, isis, iraq, extremism

Islamic State opponents find it hard to counter appeal from the pulpit

TCF fellow, Michael Wahid Hanna has been quoted in a Stars and Stripes article about ISIS.

Three years ago, Egyptian preacher AbdelMoneim el-Shahat was taking aim at icons of pre-Islamic and secular Egypt, from pharaonic statues, to the country's most celebrated novelist.

Now, el-Shahat, from the ultraconservative Salafist school of Islam, says he's directing his criticism at Islamic State and its ideology in articles and talks — part of a regional push to undercut the group's religious message that has engaged a wide array of scholars.

Read the full article.

Tags: syria, middle east policy, middle east, islamic state of iraq and syria, isis, iraq

In War of Ideas on Islamic State, Opponents Start With Handicap

TCF senior fellow, Michael Wahid Hanna has been quoted in a Bloomberg View article about the ideology behind the Islamic State.

The U.S. and its Arab allies have vowed to fight a war of ideas alongside their military campaign against Islamic State, whose recruiting videos mix battle scenes with citations from the Muslim holy book. Opponents seeking to engage on the theological front, though, start with a handicap: They’re often viewed with hostility by exactly the people -- potential sympathizers with the militants -- that they’re trying to reach.

“It is very difficult for governments to work at the level of ideology,” said Michael Wahid Hanna, senior fellow at The Century Foundation. “Populations that are most vulnerable to radicalization essentially view the religious institutions used to push forward these claims as illegitimate themselves.”

Read the full article.

Tags: middle east, islamic state of iraq and syria, isis, foreign policy, extremism, arab world


Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy

In the first years of the new century, an assertive foreign policy took a toll on the cultivated role of the U.S. as a responsible global leader. The Century Foundation's work in this area provides perspective on the international difficulties the U.S. is facing today, while providing policy recommendations to promote the nation's security interests. Our research and analysis focuses on effectively responding to challenges in the Middle East and Pakistan, as well as responding to international crime.

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