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This op-ed piece was originally published on the Daily Star on June 28, 2005. The Daily Star is published in Beirut, and it is the "insert" paper that comes folded inside every copy of the International Herald Tribune published in the Middle East (except Ha'aretz in Israel). -- the Editor

So Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is not Iran's new president. That result must come as a particular surprise to anyone who tried to follow the campaign by light of the Western media.

Dead Sea, Jordan - 23 May 2005

When I was younger I occasionally tagged along with my father at conferences in Europe where East-West security issues were discussed. Dad taught me two especially important lessons during this time: 1) find a seat on an aisle near the back, that way you can slip out quietly if things get really boring; and 2) all the really interesting stuff happens during the coffee breaks, at meal times and (especially) in the bar.

Beirut – 25 March 2005

As I write this it is late evening and Lebanon's Future Television is deep into its nightly talk show. Four hours, more or less, on where the country is headed. In the upper left corner of the screen a black mourning band cuts across the station's logo. Next to it is the legend "40 ... for Lebanon." The number marks the days since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The words are part of the Lebanese opposition's slogan: "The Truth ... for Lebanon."

March 15, 2005

AMMAN, Jordan -- 14 March 2005

According to news reports over the weekend, President Bush plans to appoint his long-time media advisor, Karen Hughes, as the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. That this post has been vacant for months, even amid general agreement that America’s image overseas is in need of a radical makeover, is itself testimony to the depth of the challenges the new undersecretary faces.

Amman, Jordan

This is an important moment in the Middle East. Events have been moving quickly in several countries around the region. The questions now are whether the momentum for reform can be sustained, and whether the United States, despite its poor reputation throughout the Arab World, can play a constructive role.

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Iraq’s election went off better than expected. Now that the results have been announced the hard part begins.

February 17, 2005

Claremont, California

I’ve spent a day here in the suburbs of Los Angeles talking about the Middle East with students and faculty at my alma mater, Pomona College. The really interesting thing is that while I came to talk about Iraq, I keep getting asked about Israel and the Palestinians. Add in Monday’s assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Iraq, the constant topic of the last two years, seems to have vanished from the agenda, at least for a moment.


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