Policy Alternatives

Policy Alternatives are monthly analysis and insights from engaged Arab scholars or activists dealing with all key reform issues in the social, economic, political and legal domains. 

June 2016
by Georges Fahmi

This paper aims to investigate Islam’s relationship with democracy by studying al-Azhar in Egypt and the Fethullah Gülen movement in Turkey, and their positions on democratic transition.

The multilayered negotiations among Iraqi political forces to form a new cabinet, and the paralysis of state institutions, conceal the multifaceted power struggle between the various Iraqi political blocs and in particular within the Shiite bloc.

April 2016
by Abdel-Nasser al-Ayed

Even prior to the outbreak of the revolution, north-eastern Syria, which suffered from wilful marginalisation under the Assad regime, had given indications of impending explosion. Despite the region’s vast agricultural wealth and oil resources, the local population suffered from the worst degrees of marginalisation and discrimination in the country in both economic and social terms. By 2011, around one million inhabitants had left their homes and villages to live in miserable camps on the periphery of cities in the country’s interior, driven by the absence of basic necessities in a region of limited development and opportunities. For the region’s inhabitants to get involved in the revolution seems only natural, just as the tribal nature of their society perhaps foresaw a proclivity towards violence.

Since the end of July 2015 a major popular uprising has erupted in Iraq’s provinces – aside from the territories under the control of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and the Kurdish provinces. This protest movement, deemed to be the largest secular popular movement challenging the post-2003 political order in Iraq, has largely departed from the narrow sectarian paradigm that has so far monopolised the analysis of Iraqi politics. This paper examines the uprising’s actors, its slogans, its internal dynamics/organisational structure, and the Iraqi government’s frenetic response to popular demands.

March 2016
by Rustom Mahmoud

The dynamics by which the Syrian Revolution brought to prominence a class of political and military leaders are highly indicative of the nature of this complex conflict. Yet they are also some of the least well-understood aspects of the war. For many of the “elite” among Syria’s political opposition— such as the liberals of the 1950s, the ideologues of the 1960s and 1970s, and the leftist youth of the 1980s and 1990s—their political, social, and class-based discourse, ideologies, and allegiances come from the “old world” of Syria.

February 2016
by Ahmed A. Hameed Hussien

The 2015 parliamentary elections in Egypt, the first since the adoption of the 2014 Constitution, brought a number of new political groups to the fore. Although boycotted by the disbanded Muslim Brotherhood and the majority of groups opposed to the current regime, most political entities close to the state did indeed take part, either as part of coalition lists such as the Fi Hob Misr (For the Love of Egypt) or as separate parties like Mustaqbal Watan (Future of the Nation), whose main cadres were once members of the defunct National Democratic Party (NDP). Other new parties founded after the January 25 revolution also took part, including the Free Egyptians Party, backed by billionaire Naguib Sawiris and winner of the largest number of seats in parliament.

November 2015
by Ibrahim El-Houdaiby

In light of the existential challenges faced by the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the region since the start of popular revolutions, ARI is publishing two papers about the state of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria, research characterized by extensive knowledge of these two groups as conducted by Ibrahim el Houdaiby and Waseem Hafez.

November 2015
by Waseem Hafez

In light of the existential challenges faced by the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the region since the start of popular revolutions, ARI is publishing two papers about the state of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria, research characterized by extensive knowledge of these two groups as conducted by Ibrahim el Houdaiby and Waseem Hafez.

November 2015
by Ghazi Dahman

Southern Syria is vulnerable to both the external and also internal forces threatening it today. A traditional region where tribal and family loyalties matter, it is also torn by sectarian loyalties. Neighbouring countries have sought to influence the population and put pressure on an already unstable situation, as Ghazi Dahman writes.

September 2015
by Hussein Alwaday

The role of Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s domestic affairs is causing concern. The divisions in Yemen drawn on political and sectarian lines is according to Hussein Alwaday, writer and media expert, potential destabilising and damaging to the country’s future. He argues for the US and the other countries in the Gulf Initiative to move to ensure Yemen finds a peaceful solution to its internal struggles.