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Middle East
The Sunni Divide: The Ideological Rift between Turkey and Saudi Arabia

In the ongoing regional Sunni revolt against the Shia and Alawite dominated governments of Iraq and Syria respectively, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are separately becoming involved in what amounts to a war within a war, but with an ideological tone to it. Riyadh and Ankara are engaged in an ideological version of a proxy war that shares some common strategic objectives such as curtailing Iranian influence and undermining the latter’s regional interests. However, in a separate theatre, the two Sunni heavyweights—to use a phrase reflective of the region’s increasingly sectarian dynamics—have grown far apart over some key regional developments such as containment of ISIS/ISIL, support for anti-Assad rebel forces, developing a policy to address the Muslim Brotherhood, and the future of a post-Assad Syria.

Iran’s Best Lost Nuclear Deal

Nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) failed to meet their self-imposed November 24th deadline to reach a final deal over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Key contentious issues remain: the United States would only tolerate a much smaller Iranian nuclear program with far fewer centrifuges. Iran would like to see a much faster sanctions relief program for every concession it is going to make.

Startup Rising: The Middle East’s New Generation of Entrepreneurs and Innovators

Interview with author Christopher Schroeder

Against a backdrop of political uncertainty and the recent instability in places like Gaza, Syria, and Iraq, another revolution is quietly shaping the future of the Middle East. The global proliferation of mobile technology has brought with it a historic opportunity to improve access, accountability, and services for large swaths of the population. Nowhere is its transformative power greater than in the Middle East. In his latest book, author Christopher Schroeder tells the story of a new generation of young entrepreneurs, frustrated by broken systems, who are channeling their energy into creative enterprise through technology. In doing so, they are determined to carve out a new golden age of invention and social innovation.

Israel Defense Forces Begin Ground Offensive in Gaza, as Peace Grows More Distant

After escalating conflicts over the past two weeks between Israel and Palestinians, Israel announced late Thursday night that it was initiating a ground invasion of the Gaza strip. The Israeli Defence Forces' actions came after 10 days of exchanging missile fire that has resulted in the deaths of 237 Palestinians and one Israeli.

Who Is Allowed to Sell Oil in Iraq?

In December 2013, the Kurdish autonomous government in Erbil signed a series of energy agreements with Turkey, provoking anger in Baghdad. These agreements, potentially, allow the Kurds to export oil by bypassing the Iraqi government, thereby, making a significant step towards achieving political independence. One key question, however, is whether the Iraqi Kurds are well advised to invest in a Turkish government, which seems to be sinking deeper into a fully-fledged political crisis.

What it Means to Be a Global Citizen

An Interview with Shafik Gabr, Chairman of ARTOC Group

On June 10th, Meridian International Center awarded Shafik Gabr, Chairman of the ARTOC Group for Investment and Development, the 2014 Meridian Global Citizen Award. Declared by Forbes magazine as one of Africa’s most successful businessmen and by Daily News Egypt as the richest known millionaire in Egypt, Shafik Gabr splits his time between Cairo, Washington, Paris, and other major cities around the world. But it is not his travels that make him a global citizen, but rather his consummate work in bridging cultures.

A New Type of Protest: The Taksim-Gezi Protests

A few years ago, Turkey was being hailed as one of the greatest success stories of the 21st century. A booming economy, marked by rapid industrialization, and a robust democratic system made Turkey the prime model of a Muslim democratic state. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey had been able to address the issues of the past and remove the military from the political equation. Erdoğan and his party's popularity had only grown over the years, and it seemed that a united Turkey was poised to enter into a dazzling future.

On U.S. Aid to Egypt, Is There an Ideological Divide?

Pundits, politicians, and professors have debated the merits of continued military aid to Egypt. Much of this discussion centers on whether the violent removal of President Mohamed Morsi was a coup and whether continued aid is therefore illegal under U.S law. Although public opinion polls show that 51 percent of respondents support cutting off aid, to date, no systematic effort has been made to gauge the opinions of scholars who study international relations (IR) for a living.

Saudi Arabia’s Sectarian Policies Behind Resurgence of Al Qaida in Iraq

More than two years after the U.S. withdrawal and nearly a decade after the U.S. forces ousted Al Qaida in Iraq (AQI) from Fallujahh, Iraq is still grappling with an escalating sectarian crisis between the Shia-led government, but also an increasingly disaffected Sunni minority. Even more menacingly, however, AQI has relabelled itself as the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIS) and has taken over of parts of Ramadi and Fallujah in the notoriously rebellious Sunni-dominated Anbar province. While the Iraqi army managed to regain parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, it has so far failed to make any headway in Fallujahh.

Addressing the Skills Gap From the Employer’s Perspective
An Interview with Nafez Husseini

What role does the private sector play in bridging the divide between education and employment for hundreds of thousands of youth in economically depressed areas?

Education for Employment (EFE) attempts to bring the private sector and the education sector together to address the problem of a skills mismatch—graduates leaving local schools and entering the workforce without the skills employers need. This skills mismatch is one of the biggest contributors to high youth unemployment rates in the Middle East. As EFE explains, “Private-sector employers often are reluctant to hire youth from marginalized socioeconomic backgrounds, and youth in turn do not trust that the system will give them a fair chance.”

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