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Crown Center


Middle East Brief
Deciphering Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: President of Egypt’s Third Republic
Abdel Monem Said Aly, Chairman of the Board, CEO, and Director of the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo and a Senior Fellow at the Crown Center

On June 8, 2014 Field-Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was sworn in as Egypt’s fifth president amid monumental challenges to Egypt's path towards democracy and economic prosperity. As a result, many commentators have already declared him as doomed to fail. In this Brief, Dr. Abdel Monem Said Aly attempts to decipher the meaning of Sisi’s ascent to Egypt’s presidency by ... Read More


12th GCSP/Crown Center/GRC Annual Conference
The Middle East and North Africa: Change and Upheaval 2014

The Crown Center is a cosponsor of the 12th GCSP/Crown Center/GRC Annual Conference: "The Middle East and North Africa: Change and Upheaval 2014". Read the post conference report here.


July 14, 2014 - The National Interest
Five Early Lessons from the Israel-Hamas War
Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center

Israel and Hamas are currently locked in an escalating violent confrontation neither sought. As the clash is still ongoing, with no end currently in sight, it is way too early to reach any definitive conclusions about it. However, five preliminary assessments help explain why the conflict broke out, what's shaping it, and what's too soon to tell. ... Read More


July 4, 2014 - PRI's The World
On the 4th of July, one Iraq scholar reflects on a country still struggling to find peace
An interview with Crown Center Junior Fellow David Siddhartha Patel

Patel has been researching and writing about holy Shiite shrines in Iraq for years and he says as ISIS captures territory across the country, any attack on these sites could trigger a major regional tension. ... Read the full interview


June 27, 2014 - Jerusalem Post
Palestinian Affairs: Abduction Politics
An interview with Crown Center Senior Fellow Khalil Shikaki

The kidnapping and the IDF crackdown on the West Bank that followed it will boost Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, told The Jerusalem Post this week. ... Read the full interview


Middle East Brief
"Worried" or "Valiant"? The Dialectic Between Iran’s Nuclear Negotiations and its Domestic Politics
Seyedamir Hossein Mahdavi, Research Assistant at the Crown Center

For years, public discussions of Iran's nuclear program and the negotiations surrounding it were considered to be off limits in the Iranian political sphere. But in recent months and as the negotiations with the P5+1 continue, not only have these discussions become a matter of public debate, they have realigned the political elite along a nuclear fault line. In this Brief, Seyedamir Hossein Mahdavi examines this new dialectic between Iran's foreign and domestic politics by ... Read More



Middle East Brief
Can Rouhani Revitalize Iran’s Oil and Gas Industry?
Nader Habibi, Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East at the Crown Center,Brandeis University

Soon after his victory in the June 2013 election, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that reforming and revitalizing Iran's oil and gas sector would be one of his government’s top priorities. In this Brief, Prof. Nader Habibi evaluates this reform program by analyzing the developments in Iran's oil sector under Ahmadinejad, providing a detailed account of the reforms proposed and implemented by Rouhani, and ascertaining the possible challenges facing these reforms within the oil ministry and the broader political landscape. ... Read More


April 29, 2014 - The National Interest
Palestinian-Israeli Talks: Time for a “Time Out”
Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center

In basketball, when a team scores a number of baskets in a row, the opposing team’s coach usually calls for a “time out.” ... Therefore, it was hardly surprising that, as an avid basketball player, U.S. President Barack Obama reacted last Friday to the news about the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas by suggesting a “time out” in the currently morbid Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. ... Read More


April 27, 2014 - Boston Globe
How can America really promote democracy abroad?
Eva Bellin, Myra and Robert Kraft Professor of Arab Politics, quoted by the Boston Globe

Eva Bellin ... looked at the Arab Spring and came to exactly the opposite conclusion: that ideology and individual choice really did matter, at least in Egypt and Tunisia. ... “The events of the last three years in the Arab world have persuaded me of the crucial importance of individual choice.” ... Read More


Working Paper
The Economic Legacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Nader Habibi is the Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East at the Crown Center, Brandeis University.

In June 2013, in a surprise election result, Hasan Rouhani, a pragmatic cleric succeeded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president. During his eight year presidency Ahmadinejad's radical foreign policy statements received considerable attention in the international media. Inside Iran, however, it was his economic policies that engendered the most contentious debates. In this Working Paper, Prof. Nader Habibi evaluates the legacy of Ahmadinejad’s presidency ... Read More


April 7, 2014 - BBC
Will Iran price hikes fuel discontent?
Nader Habibi,  Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East, quoted by the BBC

"The real price of utilities has declined, and as a result, the cost of government price subsidies has sharply increased. The [Iranian] government is faced with large budget deficits. The price adjustments for utilities were inevitable." ... Read More


April 1, 2014 - Deutsche Welle
'You can keep buying time'
Senior Fellow Khalil Shikaki discusses the opportunities and consequences of extending the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations ... Read More


Middle East Brief
“Resetting” U.S.-Egypt Relations
Abdel Monem Said Aly, Senior Fellow at the Crown Center
Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center

Since the ousting of President Mohammad Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood regime on June 30, 2013, US-Egypt relations have been on the worst negative trajectory seen since President Anwar Sadat reconciled with the United States nearly four decades ago. In this Brief, Dr. Abdel Monem Said Aly and Prof. Shai Feldman explore the growing rift between Washington and Cairo ... Read More

See also the corresponding editorial by Abdel Monem Said Aly and Shai Feldman in The National Interest.


Video - Panel Discussion
1914 and the History of the Middle East: Reassessing the First World War and Its Impact on the Region
Watch an in-depth discussion on how new findings have changed our understanding of World War I and how the war dramatically transformed the Middle East. ... Watch the Full Event


March 24, 2014
Naghmeh Sohrabi awarded the competitive Mellon New Directions Fellowship
Naghmeh Sohrabi, Associate Director for Research at the Crown Center was awarded the competitive Mellon New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The fellowship is awarded to ten scholars nationally for training in subjects outside their specialization. ... Read More


Middle East Brief
Is Hezbollah Confronting a Crisis of Popular Legitimacy?
Eric Lob, Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center

Since the battle of Qusayr and Hezbollah's direct military involvement in the Syrian crisis, analysts have pondered whether Hezbollah's actions resulted in a crisis of legitimacy for the party in Lebanon. In this Brief, Dr. Eric Lob argues that the roots of this crisis are multi-varied and date earlier than recent events suggest. ... Read More


The National Interest - March 8, 2014
Iran Deal: Keeping Israel On Board
Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center
Oren Setter, Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The recent launching by the P5+1 of negotiations of a comprehensive deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program poses serious dilemmas for both the U.S. and Israel given the enormous stakes involved. ... For Israel, the stakes in these negotiations are even higher—it sees itself as the primary target of a future Iranian nuclear force and regards such a capability as an existential threat. Read More


Al-Monitor - February 18, 2014
Rouhani takes on privatization in budget
Amir Hossein Mahdavi, Graduate Research Assistant at the Crown Center; & Ali Reza Eshraghi, Iran Program Manager at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting

On Feb. 10, the Iranian parliament, or Majlis, approved the proposed budget for the year 1393 (March 21, 2014, to March 20, 2015). The numbers are not the most striking aspect of this budget. Rather, it is the punctuality of the administration's handing the budget to the Majlis on time that speaks volumes. ... Read More


Middle East Brief
The Syrian Baath Party and Sunni Islam: Conflicts and Connivance
 Thomas Pierret, Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at the University of Edinburgh

Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, religion has occupied an increasingly central role in the opposition. In this Brief, Dr. Thomas Pierret explores the issue of sectarianism in Syria ... Read More


Al-Monitor - February 5, 2014
Iran nuclear talks could benefit from shift in Israel
Quote by Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director

"...there is 'a body in the Israeli professional level that is open to the possibility that the interim agreement with Iran is the equivalent of the disengagement agreements [between Israel] and Egypt' after the 1973 Middle East war.' The nuclear deal, Feldman said, may be 'the first step toward a fundamental change and may lead to a reassessment by Iran of its overall regional posture. While the evidence is still thin, openness to the possibility exists' in Israel." ... Read More


New Crown Book
Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East
Abdel Monem Said Aly, Shai Feldman and Khalil Shikaki

This ground-breaking new university textbook is the first on the Arab-Israeli conflict to have been co-authored by a Palestinian, an Israeli, and an Egyptian representing a broader Arab perspective. ... Read More.