Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Lebanon in Free Fall

PODCAST | ep9 | with Melani Cammett, Carmen Geha, Nate George, and Lana Salman
 

Lebanon has been called many different things: a gem of the Middle East, a failed state, a geopolitical Gordian knot (or nightmare). Its financial system has recently collapsed, people cannot find basic services, and residents are still recovering from the massive Beirut explosion of 2020. It may be a complex country to wrap your mind around, but our four scholars tell you everything you need to know about daily life in Lebanon: how are people getting by, who is in control, the geopolitics of the region, and the history behind it.

Collage of headshots of podcast speakers Melani Cammett, Carmen Geha, Nate George, and Lana Salman

Listen to episode #9 (34:35) by clicking the play button below:

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Negotiating with Terrorists (Part 2)

PODCAST | ep8 | with Annette Idler, Jytte Klausen, and Fredrik Logevall
 

Pulling out of Afghanistan was the top foreign policy event of 2021. Perhaps overlooked in the collective relief to be done with this twenty-year war is the fact that the US had to negotiate with terrorists to get there. In fact, it ceded an entire country to a violent, extremist group. Throughout history, leaders—including those from the US—have vowed never to negotiate with terrorists, but then reverse course. In this two-part episode, three scholars of history, international relations, and foreign policy discuss historic examples and the complexities of negotiating with violent—even murderous—groups. 

Collage of the three guest speakers: Annette Idler, Fredrik Logevall, and Jytte Klausen

Listen to episode #8 (28:49) by clicking the play button below:

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Negotiating with Terrorists (Part 1)

PODCAST | ep7 | with Annette Idler, Jytte Klausen, and Fredrik Logevall
 

Pulling out of Afghanistan was the top foreign policy event of 2021. Perhaps overlooked in the collective relief to be done with this twenty-year war is the fact that the US had to negotiate with terrorists to get there. In fact, it ceded an entire country to a violent, extremist group. Throughout history, leaders—including those from the US—have vowed never to negotiate with terrorists, but then reverse course. In this two-part episode, three scholars of history, international relations, and foreign policy discuss historic examples and the complexities of negotiating with violent—even murderous—groups.

Collage of the three guest speakers: Annette Idler, Fredrik Logevall, and Jytte Klausen

Listen to episode #7 (24:56) by clicking the play button below:

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Trump’s Impact on the World: Melani Cammett on the Middle East

Harvard Professor of International Affairs Melani Cammett reviews the range of US policy stances in the Middle East and asks us to examine the difference between concrete policy shifts and skillful rhetoric.

Image of Melani Cammett and Michele Lamont

This is the second blog post in a series of edited transcripts from a panel on Trump's presidency held during our orientation in August 28, 2018. Our three panelists were Christina L. Davis, Melani Cammett, and Timothy Colton

Since the panel took place, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. President Trump’s failure to condemn Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman or to hold Saudi Arabia responsible has been widely viewed as a moral failing and an extreme act of favoritism. Some believe the incident has upset the dynamics of US relations with its Gulf allies, underscoring US permissiveness and bias toward Saudi Arabia.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Talk delivered by Melani Cammett:

Trump's impact on the Middle East is both radical and minimal. There are elements of it that I would say could be interpreted as really radical and new, and a lot of it is really not that new, but just dressed up in a lot of rhetoric and incendiary language and so forth. 

I'll start with the radical side. And maybe radical is too strong of a word, but I'll just use it to be provocative. 

There are several pillars of American foreign policy toward this region that I'll address. And I think in each one, you could interpret some of his [Trump’s] moves as new and destabilizing and radical. So I'll focus on the relationship with Israel, the relationship with the conservative Gulf Arab monarchies, and the war on terrorism. And there's always oil percolating in there in one way or another.... Read more about Trump’s Impact on the World: Melani Cammett on the Middle East

When Life Is in Limbo, Education Can't Wait

Sarah Dryden-Peterson, associate professor of education at Harvard, shares insights from her team’s work on refugee education around the world.

Image of student hands building a map

By Michelle Nicholasen

Of the sixty-five million people currently displaced worldwide, about half of them are children. On average, a refugee may spend between ten to twenty-five years in exile. This means that for many children, their entire formal education will take place while awaiting a durable solution to their displacement. However, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that only 50 percent of refugee children have access to primary education, and only 22 percent have access to secondary school. 

The critical task of educating refugee children has been the focus of scholarship for Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate Sarah Dryden-Peterson and her research team who are investigating processes of refugee education in Kenya, Lebanon, and Uganda, among others. Documenting the experiences of students, families, and teachers over time, the group has gained insight on education delivery, quality of instruction, and resource allocation. The struggle to meet the educational needs of refugee children, according to Dryden-Peterson, has called into question the very purpose of education and what kinds of futures it prepares young people for.

The Weatherhead Center asked Dryden-Peterson and doctoral students Vidur Chopra and Elizabeth Adelman to describe some of the realities facing Syrian refugees, who rely on education as a critical pathway to establishing a secure life. What follows is an abridged version of that conversation.... Read more about When Life Is in Limbo, Education Can't Wait