Ed Husain

The Arab Street

Husain examines politics, society, and radicalism in the greater Middle East.

Bush Nostalgia Among Arabs

by Ed Husain Thursday, May 31, 2012
President Barack Obama delivers a speech in the Grand Hall of Cairo University on June 4, 2009 (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama delivers a speech in the Grand Hall of Cairo University on June 4, 2009 (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters).

It is conventional wisdom to assume that former president George W. Bush was, and is, universally disliked by Arabs and Muslims. The Obama administration pursued what was referred to as the ABB (Anybody But Bush) foreign policy in the Middle East by reaching out to Iran, sidelining democracy promotion in important countries, antagonizing Israel, and wooing Arabs with his famous 2009 Cairo speech. President Obama went out of his way to remind his global Muslim audiences of his own days in Muslim-majority Indonesia, his Muslim ancestry, and the important roles American Muslims play at home and abroad. Read more »

Where Are We Heading in Egypt?

by Ed Husain Thursday, May 24, 2012
A soldier talks to a woman outside a polling station in Cairo (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters). A soldier talks to a woman outside a polling station in Cairo (Mohammed Salem/Courtesy Reuters).

A good friend of mine is a prominent Egyptian business man. As the board member of a national charity, he travels frequently to what he calls “real Egypt.” Last week in rural Asyut, his NGO distributed three hundred cows. Each time the head of a local family walked away with a cow, the women burst into howls of ululation. Their joy, he said, was visibly equal to that of guests at an Arab wedding. Read more »

The Week Ahead: Egyptian Elections, Uneasy Calm in Lebanon, Yemen Reacts to Attack

by Ed Husain Monday, May 21, 2012
Lebanese mourners and gunmen carry the body of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahid, a Sunni Muslim cleric, during his funeral in northern Lebanon (Mohamed Azakir/Courtesy Reuters). Lebanese mourners and gunmen carry the body of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahid, a Sunni Muslim cleric, during his funeral in northern Lebanon (Mohamed Azakir/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt. The country’s first presidential elections since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak will take place this Wednesday and Thursday, May 23 and 24. Candidates Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh are the current front-runners, although it is difficult to predict the results based on limited available polling data. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi fared well in early voting by Egyptians abroad. Read more »

The Week Ahead: Egyptians Abroad Vote, Gulf Countries Strengthen Ties, and Syria Announces Election Results

by Ed Husain Monday, May 14, 2012
An Egyptian boy living in Kuwait smiles as his mother casts her ballot at the Egyptian embassy in Kuwait (Stephanie McGehee/Courtesy Reuters). An Egyptian boy living in Kuwait smiles as his mother casts her ballot at the Egyptian embassy in Kuwait (Stephanie McGehee/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt. Egyptians living abroad—many in the Gulf, the United States, and Canada—have begun voting in the presidential elections. Turnout has been low thus far, but voters will have until May 17 to cast their ballots. The latest poll numbers from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies have Amr Moussa maintaining a strong lead, with Ahmed Shafiq overtaking Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh for second place. The survey was conducted on May 8 and 9, however, before last week’s widely viewed debate between Moussa and Aboul Fotouh. Read more »

Will Egypt Make History Again?

by Ed Husain Wednesday, May 9, 2012
A man walks past campaign posters of presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh in Cairo (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters). A man walks past campaign posters of presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh in Cairo (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt is set to broadcast a televised debate between two top presidential candidates, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Amr Moussa. One was once an inmate in Mubarak’s prisons, and the other Mubarak’s foreign minister.

I have met both men, and they are equally adept at the art of deflecting questions. The next president of Egypt will serve his term competing with the Egyptian military for influence—both men know this, and have bent over backward to be seen as cooperative. Neither candidate clearly represents the generation or ideas that gave birth to the Tahrir Square protests last year, but just as rumors were spreading that the elections would be cancelled and further doom was capturing the new Egyptian political space, the idea of monazarat, debates, has helped lift spirits. Read more »

The Week Ahead: Elections in Algeria and Syria, Egypt’s Presidential Race, Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike

by Ed Husain Monday, May 7, 2012
Algeria's National Liberation Front leader Abdelaziz Belkhadem attends a parliamentary election campaign rally in Algiers (Louafi Larbi/Courtesy Reuters). Algeria's National Liberation Front leader Abdelaziz Belkhadem attends a parliamentary election campaign rally in Algiers (Louafi Larbi/Courtesy Reuters).

Algeria. Elections for Algeria’s parliament, scheduled for May 10, are being met with cynicism by many Algerians seeking reform. In a country whose leaders are under pressure but have thus far managed to avoid the fate of their regional neighbors, the elections are being heavily promoted by the government as a step in the right direction. While the elections are expected to be free and fair in comparison with decades of rigged polls, voter skepticism and apathy may result in low turnout. Read more »

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain: The Prince and the Ayatollah

by Ed Husain Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa (Hamad I Mohammed/Courtesy Reuters).) Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa (Hamad I Mohammed/Courtesy Reuters).

When I was invited to visit Bahrain by members of the royal family, I hesitated. They had crushed peaceful protesters last year, and their police had used tear gas against human rights activists. Like everybody else, including some of the Bahraini policemen I later spoke with, I was appalled at the violence and thought the monarchy had blood on its hands. But I felt that declining the offer was irresponsible. I wanted to know the monarchy’s side of the story. So I accepted the invitation—on the condition that I was free to meet Bahrain’s opposition. Read more »