Over the past decade sectarianism has emerged as a major fault line in Middle east politics. Tensions between Shias and Sunnis have found new meaning in light of the Arab uprisings of the past year to define regional rivalries from the Levant to the Persian Gulf. The conflict in Syria, tensions in Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen, simmering violence in Iraq and the larger regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia all tell of the growing importance of the sectarian divide.
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This panel discussion, co-sponsored by the Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), the Egyptian American Rule of Law Association (EARLA), and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), explored the political and legal implications of Egypt’s recent parliamentary elections and forthcoming presidential elections. The discussion brought together experts who analyzed post-revolution legal reforms and election laws, specifically asked how these laws affected minority groups and parties, and offered recommendations for future reforms to help ensure free, fair, and accessible elections. Panelists also examined the results of the parliamentary elections: why did the Muslim Brotherhood and Nour party win such a large majority while the secular and liberal parties performed so poorly? Finally, panelists considered the elections’ impact on democracy in Egypt and relations with the United States, with special attention paid to U.S democracy-promotion efforts in the country.
In the midst of the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia alone seems to have escaped public protests over corruption, authoritarianism and the quest for more equitable sharing of benefits. This impression masks the realities of life and reform within the Kingdom. Dr. DeLong-Bas’s presentation explored some of the ways in which Saudi Arabia is working to address the challenges of the Arab Spring from a long-term perspective, offering analysis of areas of both stability and uncertainty for the future.
Journalist and historian Paola Caridi discussed the Palestinian Islamist movement's political strategy from the participation in the 2006 elections up to the Second Arab Awakening. Caridi contributed to the founding of the press agency Lettera22 and has worked with several Italian dailies, weeklies, and reviews. Hamas: From Resistance To Government, her second book, was published in Italy in 2009 and in Palestine in March 2010.
Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool is South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States of America. Before joining the Embassy, his most recent positions have included Member of Parliament in the National Assembly, Special Advisor to the State President of the Republic of South Africa and Premier (governor of the Western Cape Province). Ebrahim Rasool has a long history of involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle starting at High School and including leadership in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the African National Congress (ANC).