Seventeen women from six Arab countries discussed challenges and new trends in diplomacy during a weeklong seminar organized by the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry in association with leading research center The Italian Society for International Organization (SIOI).

Michael Pelletier (SFS ’86), deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs in the U.S. State Department, argued for a nuanced interpretation of growing turmoil caused by violent extremism in West Africa on Monday afternoon. Pelletier discussed the recent strife in Algeria and Mali and cautioned the audience to be mindful of labelling political organizations in West Africa.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Algeria this week seeking the country’s support for a West African force to help Mali’s military regain control of the north. And her talks with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika were dominated by the issue of how to deal with the terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists who took control of more than two-thirds of Mali after a coup toppled the government in Bamako last March.

...the kinds of things that the Algerians have been working on more recently in order to get ahead of the Arab Spring or to make themselves less vulnerable to the Arab Spring, they saw that as an opportunity or a time that they really should work on some of the political reforms that we had been advocating for a long time.

There's so much political irony to go around in this story. First, there's a construction company wholly owned by the Chinese government -- which generally has an attitude toward mosque construction in the People's Republic that ranges from somewhat uneasy to downright hostile...

Andrea Wenzel takes us to meet an openly gay couple who decided to start an Algerian-American restaurant in Elkader after 9/11. This story charts the restauranteurs' adventures with cultural adaptation, American identity and small town politics.

November 11, 2011

Cultural activists, cultural workers, researchers and policymakers from Mali and Algeria to Singapore, and Limpopo to Cape Town, gathered in Joburg recently for the much-anticipated Diversity Conference.

It is not an isolated case. Algeria's usually unbending officialdom is handing out business loans, letting off rule-breaking motorists, easing up on tax dodgers and turning a blind eye to people trading without a license. What changed was the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and other parts of the Arab World.