Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary election will not bring about any decisive changes. Elections do not cause significant power shifts; they can only reflect the power shifts that have already taken place.
Turkey's constitution, imposed by the military in 1982, must be redrafted if the country is to move towards a more responsive political system and avoid repeating the cycle of paralysis followed by heavy-handed military and judicial intervention.
Over the next year, Egypt will hold three important elections, none of which stand any chance of redistributing power in the country. Egypt needs long-term democratic reforms, and the United States can play an effective role in promoting those reforms.
On February 11, Iran will mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution with a resilient opposition movement, its population divided, and the threat of international sanctions.
Armenia and Turkey have a chance to move forward from their troubled past by ratifying the historic protocols signed in October 2009. While the governments in both Yerevan and Ankara face strong opposition to the protocols, a failure to ratify the agreement could have disastrous consequences for the entire region.
While growing Islamic extremism in Yemen is alarming, in the longer term it is the country’s domestic challenges that threaten to bring Yemen to its knees, with potentially destabilizing consequences for the region.
U.S. rhetoric has become more closely aligned with European positions on the Arab-Israeli peace process and democracy and human rights promotion in the Middle East, but there has not been a significant increase in transatlantic cooperation on these issues.
President Obama’s self-imposed deadline for closing the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay has passed. It may take years to fully close the facility because the real problem is not only Guantanamo, but the entire U.S. detention policy.
While a greater degree of pluralism has been introduced into Arab societies, they are still likely to grapple with political apathy, low voter turnout, dwindling membership in registered parties, and shrinking constituencies for the foreseeable future.
Yemen faces a great and growing number of challenges which need to be addressed immediately, or there is a very real risk that the country will collapse, becoming a safe-haven for al-Qaeda and destabilizing the entire Gulf region.