Ed Husain

The Arab Street

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

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Guest Post: Jihad and the Pakistani Military

by Ed Husain
Supporters of religious and political parties stand on a traffic signal pole while taking part in a Defense of Pakistan Council rally in Islamabad on February 20, 2012 (Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of religious and political parties stand on a traffic signal pole while taking part in a Defense of Pakistan Council rally in Islamabad on February 20, 2012 (Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters).

The relationship between the Pakistani military and extremist groups is contentious and rooted in a complicated history. I asked Imran Khan, head of counterextremism training and strategic communications for Khudi Pakistan, a Pakistani civil society organization, to provide a view from the ground to help us understand the state of the military-jihadi relationship today and what it might mean for Pakistan moving forward. Read more »

Guest Post: Islamist Foreign Policy in a New Egypt

by Ed Husain

An Egyptian protester holds up a Quran while participating in a rally at Tahrir square in Cairo (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

My friend from Cairo and a former Muslim Brotherhood member, Abdelrahman Ayyash, analyzes how a Brotherhood-dominated government may approach foreign policy. He can be reached at ayyash@ymail.com.

The overwhelming success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s first free parliamentary elections since the end of the Mubarak regime is raising questions about the Brotherhood’s stance on a number of issues. As an Egyptian and a former Brotherhood member who remains close to its activities, I am as interested as anyone in discerning how the group’s foreign policy will take shape in its new leadership role. Read more »

Guest Post: How Pakistan Sees the United States

by Ed Husain

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi (Courtesy Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi)

The following was written by Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, the founder of Pakistan Youth Alliance and a member of Khudi Pakistan. He tweets at @ali_abbas_zaidi.

It was November 1979. Anti-American outrage filled the streets of Pakistan. Several U.S. facilities were attacked across the country. A mob in Islamabad nearly burned the U.S. embassy to the ground. The chant “Kill the American infidels!” echoed in the air in response to the siege of Mecca’s grand mosque, Islam’s holiest site.

Pakistani crowds angered by the unprecedented events unfolding in Mecca concluded that such a plot could only be orchestrated by Americans. It turned out they were wrong. The homegrown radical group in Saudi Arabia that led the bloody siege had no link with the United States.

While the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has experienced many changes in the decades since, miscalculations of ground realities on both sides and anti-American sentiment have remained.

The majority of people in Pakistan admire the way Americans live—almost every Pakistani family has a member settled in the United States—but a glaring majority hates the impact of U.S. policies in Pakistan. The United States is considered by many to be the “great Satan.” Every U.S. political move in Pakistan is interpreted as an effort to destabilize Pakistan or to fight a war against Islam. Aggressive rhetoric on the Pakistani side—at times reflecting an unrealistic worldview and at times responding justifiably to belligerent U.S. action—molds mass perceptions. Read more »

Guest Post: Arab Transitions, Turkish Ambitions

by Ed Husain

A view of Istanbul's financial district from the city's Asian side (Murad Sezer/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is written by my colleague, Charles Landow, associate director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Whether for its economic dynamism or its increasingly visible role in the Middle East, Turkey today is much in the news. I recently visited the country and found good reasons for the attention. The purpose of the trip was to attend a conference on “The Economies of the Arab Spring” organized by the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, a small but energetic think tank that fosters policy conversations and connections between the United States and the Muslim world.

What I saw made clear that Istanbul is the hub of a booming economy with growing ambitions. The IMF projects that Turkey’s GDP, less than $200 billion as recently as 2001, will exceed $1 trillion by 2015. Per capita GDP has reached $10,000, on its way to nearly $15,000 in the next five years. This growth has many Turks thinking big. For example, the massive Marmaray Tunnel, which will traverse the Bosphorus to connect Istanbul’s European and Asian sides by rail, is under construction to address the city’s transport woes. Even the U.S. transportation secretary has praised its engineering prowess. And in April Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans for a colossal new canal that would keep freighters and their often hazardous cargo out of the jammed Bosphorus. Read more »