Ed Husain

The Arab Street

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

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Showing posts for "U.S. Foreign Policy"

Bush Nostalgia Among Arabs

by Ed Husain
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 »

Washington’s Love Affair With Islamists

by Ed Husain
Mohamed Mursi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, talks during a news conference in Cairo in April 2011 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Mohamed Mursi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, talks during a news conference in Cairo in April 2011 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists from Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, and Libya are in Washington, DC, this week. Having advocated for over a year for issues-based engagement with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, I was delighted to host a delegation from their Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) for meetings at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and Washington. Read more »

Secretary Clinton in Saudi Arabia: Questions for the King

by Ed Husain
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speaks in Riyadh in February 2012 (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speaks in Riyadh in February 2012 (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads for Saudi Arabia this week, some may ask whether she will wear a head scarf in the conservative kingdom. Well, President Obama bowed to the Saudi king in 2009 (in an unexpected, unwarranted moved that was widely rebuked) so his top diplomat wearing a hijab would not be out of the ordinary. Former first lady Laura Bush donned a head scarf in Saudi, as did former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in Tajikistan. But that’s not the real challenge—what matters most is that Secretary Clinton’s agenda in Saudi Arabia should include the following questions: Read more »

What Does Intervention in Syria Look Like?

by Ed Husain
Demonstrators protest against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Binsh near Idlib (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). Demonstrators protest against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Binsh near Idlib (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

Today on CNN.com, I write about the myth of “international intervention” in Syria. Military options in Syria would require a huge dependence on U.S. armed forces. I also ask questions that are yet to be answered by proponents of forceful involvement in a country that borders global hotspots in Israel, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon. The piece appears below: Read more »

We Intervene in Syria at Our Peril

by Ed Husain
A boy attends a rally in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on January 25, 2012 (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters). A boy attends a rally in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on January 25, 2012 (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters).

I write for the Atlantic today arguing that any Western military involvement in Syria at this juncture will make matters worse for the country and result in regional conflict. Moreover, U.S.-led involvement in Syria would be counterproductive for the United States. Read more »

Egypt’s Revolt and the American Model

by Ed Husain
Demonstrators gather at Tahrir square during a protest marking the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising in Cairo (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy Reuters). Demonstrators gather at Tahrir square during a protest marking the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising in Cairo (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy Reuters).

In the Wall Street Journal today I argue that American influence in Egypt and beyond is not limited to backing tyrants. The soft power of the United States remains as vibrant today as it was in years past. Read more »

U.S. Taxpayer Money Goes to Pakistan’s Radicals

by Ed Husain
A supporter of the Sunni Ittehad Council in Pakistan next to a poster which reads "Mumtaz Qadri, we salute your courage" (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters). A supporter of the Sunni Ittehad Council in Pakistan next to a poster which reads "Mumtaz Qadri, we salute your courage" (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters).

Judging from recent actions by the Obama administration, one can be forgiven for thinking that the United States does not know its friends from its enemies in Pakistan. Their blunders may not make headlines in newspapers here, but they are adding fuel to the anti-American fire that consumes Pakistan. Read more »

Advice to Michele Bachmann

by Ed Husain

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann speaks during the Republican debate in Sioux City, Iowa on December 15, 2011 (Eric Gay/Courtesy Reuters).

I am not a Republican—much less a Bachmann enthusiast. Still, I happen to share Bachmann’s concerns about the dangers of a nuclear Iran. For arguing against the whims of the clerics, I am banned from entering Iran. They monitor criticism of their regime. They build a case against their critics.

Just as Iranians know their enemies, as it were, it’s doubly important for us in the West to know Iran. It is us, not them, who seek to prevent conflict and make claims to seeking objective truth. When a U.S. presidential candidate speaks about Iran, it is reported in their domestic press and the political class, clerics, and bazaar merchants analyze and comment. More importantly, the standing of the United States in Iran is in the balance—despite Iran’s public pronouncements of anti-Americanism, the United States will be judged by the quality of its insights about Iranian society and politics in U.S. public discourse. As such, Michele Bachmann’s repeated attacks on Iran must not only have veracity, but objectivity.
Read more »

Why the United States Still Can’t Count on Iraq

by Ed Husain

When al-Jazeera Arabic switches its live coverage from the White House to the parliament in Tunisia, you can be sure that Arab masses are not interested in the meeting between President Obama and Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

As I watched the press conference being broadcast in Arabic yesterday, I was surprised that despite all the noise made by al-Jazeera about the Iraq war, it had little interest in allowing its viewers to understand the current state of play between the United States and Iraq. Read more »

Was Senator Kerry Right to Meet the Muslim Brotherhood?

by Ed Husain

There is much anger among many Egyptian secular liberals about Senator John Kerry’s meeting with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo on Saturday. Soon, in Washington, DC, Republican lawmakers will chide Senator Kerry too. I am no friend of the Muslim Brotherhood, but old policies of isolating the Muslim Brotherhood are no longer viable in the new Middle East.

Meeting only with secular Egyptian leaders such as presidential candidates Mohamed ElBaradei or Amr Moussa yields very little political profit for the United States, and results in a net loss of remaining credibility for Egypt’s secularists. By meeting with Islamists, the United States ensures political gains for the short to medium term. Read more »