Matthew Duss

Matthew Duss is president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and a contributing writer for the Prospect. You can follow him on Twitter @mattduss.

Recent Articles

Missing the Arab Awakening

Fears of radical Islam and a depleted budget may keep the U.S. from shepherding a Middle Eastern transition to democracy.

Twitter/Shokeir
On January 25, Egyptians marked the one-year anniversary of their revolution with another massive demonstration in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of what has become known variously as the Arab Spring, the Arab Awakening, or the Arab Uprising. Whatever term one chooses for the events that began with the self-immolation of a Tunisian fruit vendor in December 2010 and soon swept through Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Syria—the last year has marked a decisive shift in the modern history of the Arab world. Though the situations in different countries have and will continue to take different paths, the people of the region have voiced their unmistakable rejection of the political and economic arrangements that have dominated their countries for decades. But what of the United States' role in the current era of transition? As I wrote in The American Prospect one year ago, the Egyptian uprisings offered President Barack Obama an opportunity to make good on the unfulfilled promise of his historic June...

Making Good on the Cairo Speech

The United States must now develop a coherent approach to the fact of political Islam.

People demonstrate in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The protests currently gripping Egypt caught everyone, including President Barack Obama, off guard. While it's been good to see the Obama administration coming out more strongly behind the protesters' democratic demands, warning longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak away from a violent crackdown, and having no less than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an orderly “transition to democracy” (a welcome sign the administration is thinking seriously about a post-Mubarak Egypt) -- it is imperative the administration provide a more robust and strategic response to these events, given what a new Egypt could portend for the entire region. President Obama himself provided a blueprint for this new approach in his June 2009 Cairo speech. Many progressives, this writer included, were thrilled by what we saw as that speech's promise to move away from a Middle East policy in which political freedom was subordinated to the perceived imperatives of counter-radicalism, and toward a more...

The Cables' Credibility Question

What do the WikiLeaks cables tell us about the Middle East in the wake of the Bush Doctrine?

Hillary Clinton makes a statement on the WikiLeaks document release. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Some time between Saturday evening and Monday morning, it suddenly became important to U.S. hawks that we take seriously what Arab leaders have been saying about instability in the Middle East. I refer, of course, to the comments from Arab leaders, released as part of the WikiLeaks cable dump, urging the United States to more aggressively curb Iranian power and influence in the region. Unsurprisingly, these cables have bolstered neoconservative calls for a U.S. military strike on Iran. Leaving aside the irony that neoconservatives are citing as justification for another war the concerns of the same Arab authoritarians they wanted overthrown in 2003, it's quite interesting to note when and on what subjects Arab leaders are to be believed. For years, we've been told by conservative Middle East "experts" that, despite public pleading, Arab leaders were really not concerned about the destabilizing effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Hudson Institute's Lee Smith exemplified...

Inconvenient Alliances

A new book details the military and nuclear partnership between Israel and apartheid South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s.

To say that Sasha Polakow-Suransky's new book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa comes at a particularly inconvenient time for the Netanyahu government would be an understatement. Israel is resisting calls for an independent investigation of the May 31 flotilla attack -- in which Israeli naval commandos killed nine activists aboard a Turkish vessel attempting to break the Gaza blockade -- while it continues to deal with the fallout from a previous United Nations investigation of its conduct during the 2009 Gaza War. Those opposed to the Gaza investigation have even gone so far as to attempt to smear the author, Richard Goldstone, the South African judge who oversaw the report for the U.N. Human Rights Council. The report asserted evidence of possible war crimes by both Israel and Hamas and has been a source of serious concern for Israeli officials. In early May, the popular Israeli tabloid Yediot Ahronot published a "special investigation"...

Iran's Crisis of Resistance

Facing heavy domestic criticism, the Iranian regime could seek to recoup lost credibility by causing more trouble in the region.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Iran's most senior dissident cleric. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
The "war on terror" was pretty great for Iran's hardliners. The Bush administration's 2002 inclusion of Iran in the "Axis of Evil" was a major blow to Iranian moderates, discrediting their calls for U.S.-Iran rapprochement and supporting the claims of Iran's hard-liners that engagement with America was pointless. The invasion of Iraq removed Iran's greatest enemy, Saddam Hussein, against whom Iran had fought a staggeringly destructive eight-year war. Iraq's postwar government included a significant number of Iran's former clients -- including eventual Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq -- in top leadership positions. The perceived success of Iran's Lebanese ally Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 -- in a devastating month-long combination of bombing and ground combat hailed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East" -- also proved a huge boost to Iranian hawks. A 2007 poll of Egyptians placed Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan...

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