Following the 2003 Rose Revolution nearly ten years ago, Georgia has been presented primarily as a transition success story. The government under President Mikheil Saakashvili undertook massive reforms to purge the country of its post-Soviet legacy of corruption. Georgia has become a staunch Western ally, has NATO aspirations, and is one of the largest non-NATO contributors of soldiers to Afghanistan (given its population). It's true that President Saakashvili showed questionable political judgment and perceptibly authoritarian instincts at times. But his finest moment came when it mattered most. In October 2012 his political party lost parliamentary elections to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition. Instead of contesting the voters' choice, Saakashvili graciously conceded defeat -- and the Caucasus country experienced the first peaceful transfer of power via the ballot box in its history.
A happy Easter to all those celebrating this week!
In the latest for our new Putinology column, Anna Nemtsova reveals the unruly forces that are troubling the Kremlin's security services.
Juan Nagel bemoans the absurdity of Nicolás Maduro's presidential campaign in Venezuela.
Mohamed Eljarh assesses a weak point in Libya's media reform that is essential to the country's democratic transition.
Jonathan Morduch and Timothy Ogden advocate using microfinance to meet the real financial needs of the world's poor.
Min Zin argues that Burma's political elite have failed their country in preventing a recurring pattern of ethnic violence.
Greg Rushford argues that it's not just the world's advanced economies driving trade inequality.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
Reporting for The New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin shares the economic hardships forcing an Afghani father to give away his daughter, and the government that won't support him.
In a new paper for the New America Foundation, Philip Napoli and Jonathan Obar examine the global phenomenon where new internet users are gaining access by using cell phones instead of computers.
International Crisis Group assesses the growing discontent in Eritrea and the potential for a violent power struggle.
In a recent Issue Perspective for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Stephen Engelken argues that India and Pakistan need to expand their trade ties in order to maintain peace in South Asia.
Following Russia's latest crackdown on non-profits and activists, Russian journalist Masha Gessen writes for the International Herald Tribune, comparing the tactics to the Soviet Union.
ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Joseph Allchin explains why the war crimes trials under way in Bangladesh show why transitional justice and party politics don't mix.
Christian Caryl argues that treating democracy as an inevitable outcome may actually hurt the cause of democracy.
Nazila Fathi looks at how Iranian leaders are responding to the deepening economic crisis created by sanctions.
BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
Tycoons in Eastern Europe are well known not only for their lavish lifestyles (complete with yachts and private jets), but also for the power that they exercise through their cozy relations with those in government. The term "oligarch" is often associated with the group of Russian post-perestroika businessmen who made their fortune during Boris Yeltsin's tenure in the Kremlin. But such figures are no strangers to the Balkans, either. No man in Serbia (and perhaps in all of Southeast Europe) deserves the label more than Miroslav Miškovic, the owner of the Belgrade-based conglomerate Delta Holding.
Photo by ALEXA STANKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images
Jakub Wisniewski gives the background to Poland's remarkable economic success story.
In our latest case study published in conjunction with Princeton's Innovations for Successful Societies, Laura Bacon and Rushda Majeed tell the story of a remarkable Sicilian mayor who decided to take back his city from the Mafia.
In this week's column, Christian Caryl explains the lingering scandal behind the story of Alexander Lukashenko, Europe's last dictator. Caryl also reports on the reasons why the U.S. government has decided to withhold its assent to the new UN telecommunications treaty that the Americans accuse of infringing on the freedom of the Internet.
Mohamed El Dahshan reports on the internal Muslim Brotherhood politics that are fueling the current unrest in Egypt.
Adam Baron analyzes the problems that plague Yemen on the way to a planned national political dialogue.
Corey Brettschneider argues that the U.S. government should actively condemn hate speech as well as protecting the freedom of the word.
Endy Bayuni explores the reasons behind the current surge in union activism in Indonesia -- including the surprising willingness of local governments to support wage hikes.
Juan Nagel mulls over the continuing speculation about a successor to cancer-plagued Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
The Project on Middle East Political Science offers a video conversation on the new Egyptian constitution with expert Nathan Brown.
At Jadailyya.com, Linda Herrera, Magdy Alabady, and Adel Iskandar analyze the political role of Mohamed El-Baradei in Egypt's current political unrest.
Writing for the Jamestown Foundation, Wladimir van Wilgenburg explains why fighting between Kurdish groups and Arab rebels helps Bashar al-Assad.
The website of the pro-democracy group Girifna offers an update on the latest protests in Sudan.
Democracy Digest offers two useful takes on the situation in Venezuela amid renewed reports that President Hugo Chavez is again struggling with cancer. One post speculates on the fate of chavismo without Chavez. The second brings together commentary on the state of the opposition as speculation about the possibility of a post-Chavez Venezuela revs up again.
Anne Applebaum, writing in The Washington Post, posits that corruption is becoming the new galvanizing issue for activists around the world.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty offers a breakdown on a Swedish documentary that tracks corruption linked with Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the dictator of Uzbekistan.
The Monkey Cage features a post in which an array of political scientists weigh in on the function of legislatures in authoritarian regimes:
A new report from the International Crisis Group explains why Muslim insurgents are gaining ground on the government of Thailand in the country's turbulent South.
A new U.N. report details illegal drug trends in Asia and the Pacific.
Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images
Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
Transparency International's annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has become one of the most important barometers of good governance around the world. There are a lot of interesting stories buried within the latest CPI, which has just been released. One of them involves the Balkans.
Photo by HRVOJE POLAN/AFP/Getty Images
James A. Robinson explains why Colombia's remarkable degree of political stability is not all that it's cracked up to be.
Malik Al-Abdeh wonders whether the creation of a new umbrella group for the Syrian opposition group will actually help to bring down the Assad regime.
Mohamed El Dahshan argues that the current government ban on pornography in Egypt threatens freedom of expression.
Larry Jagan analyzes the dynamics within the Burmese leadership and explains why fragmentation of the ruling party would be a disaster for the country.
Christian Caryl explores the comparison between two civil war presidents, Bashar al-Assad and Abraham Lincoln.
Besar Likmeta profiles Ina Rama, Albania's first female general prosecutor and valiant hero in the fight against sleaze.
Jackee Batanda reports on the increasing demoralization of a Ugandan public battered by new revelations of corruption in high places.
And here are this week's recommended reads:
Thomas Carothers and and Nathan J. Brown explain the real danger for democracy in Egypt.
Katrin Verclas and Lina Srivastava wonder why a new list of democracy promotion heavyweights is bereft of women.
In a Guardian interview with Colin Poulton, the SOAS research fellow makes the case that the establishment of democratic institutions in developing countries can be detrimental to the rural poor.
A new RAND report assesses the nation-building challenges in post-Qaddafi Libya.
A new report on Burma from the International Crisis Group, Storm Clouds on the Horizon, shows how continuing sectarian conflict is casting a shadow over the reform process. Writing in The Independent, Emanuel Stoakes stresses the need for President Obama to acknowledge the issue during his upcoming trip to Burma.
In an analysis for the Middle East Research and Information Project, Pete Moore explains why -- despite the recent turmoil there -- Jordan is unlikely to experience its own version of the Arab Spring.
Sarah Kendzior argues that there are good reasons for holding policy forums in authoritarian countries.
Alina Rocha Menocal takes issue with the notion that "building institutions" is the best formula for promoting development.And finally, Evelyn Lamb, writing in Scientific American, explains the background of the Gini coefficient -- and why it's not like the Kardashians
Photo by Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images
For centuries, if a woman wanted to play a prominent public role in Albania's closed-off, conservative society, she had to chop off her hair, borrow a pair of baggy trousers, sport a gun, and forgo marriage, sex, or children. Ina Rama shattered that mold when she became the country's first female general prosecutor five years ago. A diminutive, attractive blonde with movie-star charisma, she's been an unlikely hero on the otherwise dismal world of Albanian politics.
Photo by GENT SHKULLAKU/AFP/Getty Images
M. Steven Fish and Katherine E. Michel explain why Tunisia is taking the right approach to establishing democractic institutions.
Anne Applebaum explores the motivations for people to support authoritarian regimes.
Dalibor Rohac argues that religion isn't necessarily the key to understanding the success of Islamist parties in the MENA region.
Endy Bayuni explains the tensions underlying recent violence among Indonesian migrants.
Peter Passell introduces the Legatum Institute's 2012 Prosperity Index.
Jackee Batanda reports on the corruption scandal that has soured Uganda's relations with foreign aid donors.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
David Rieff attacks the assumptions behind America's democracy promotion agenda.
The Arabist provides alternate sources of English versions of the new Egyptian draft consitution -- with a bit of arch commentary along the way.
Amrit Dhillon criticizes the Indian government's restrictions on morphine for the poor.
At The Monkey Cage, Joshua Tucker offers a handy overview of Ukraine's parliamentary elections and what they tell us about the Ukraine's continued drift toward authoritarianism.
Writing for The Irrawaddy, Burmese journalist Aung Zaw explains why the resurgence of ethnic conflict in northwestern Burma bodes ill for the next phase of reforms.
At Jadaliyya, Basma Guthrie and Fida Adely explain why the Jordanian government is tightening the screws on the domestic media.
Foreign Policy's own Marc Lynch writes on the burgeoning dissatisfaction in Kuwait.
Writing for OpenDemocracy.net, Paul Rogers argues that western intervention in Mali would be a gift to Al Qaeda.
Democracy Digest offers a useful situation report on the state of democratic institutions in Tunisia.
[The photo above shows Cubans lining up to receive government coal rations in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.]
Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images
Writing from Libya, Christopher Stephen offers a forensic analysis of the Benghazi consulate attack.
Syrian dissident Ahed Al Hendi recalls what it was like growing up under the personality cult surrounding the Assads.
Christian Caryl examines little-noticed corners of the Arab world where the spirit of rebellion continues to smolder.
Jon Temin explains why Sudan's governance problems are too deep to be cured by concessions to breakaway regions.
Guest blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad casts a critical eye on Mideast potentates who are using blasphemy laws to silence critics.
Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez analyzes the factors influencing Venezuelans' decisions to emigrate after the Hugo Chávez victory in this month's presidential election.
Katrina Lantos Swett and Robert P. George make the case for keeping post-revolutionary constitutions in the Arab World free of blasphemy laws.
Jackee Batanda observes plans by the Ugandan security forces to crack down on the country's social media.
And Endy Bayuni writes about the political strategy behind Indonesia's creeping liberalization of laws on capital punishment.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
In a new paper from the Brookings Doha Center, Salman Shaikh proposes a path forward toward a solution to Syria's deepening crisis.
The Inter American Press Association warns of a rising threat to press freedom from authoritarian governments and violence across Latin America.
Democracy Digest analyzes a political assassination in Tunisia that could have a profound effect on the course of the revolution.
As talk grows of a possible military intervention in Mali, the Council on Foreign Relations offers a useful backgrounder on Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. (The photo above shows Tuareg fighters in northern Mali.)
An intriguing blog post from The Economist describes the crucial differences in local government around India.
Ivan Krastev reflects on the importance of trust in democracies in a recent TED talk.
Courtesy of The Atlantic.com, Russian dissident Sergei Udaltsov live-tweets his detention.
And finally, be sure to check out this thought-provoking obituary of Cambodia's King Sihanouk, who died this week at age 89.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that child marriage is bad. Yes, it's just wrong, on the simple moral level when an 11-year-old is pushed into marrying someone four or five times her age. But the practice causes plenty of harder-edged problems too -- ranging from early pregnancy (the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide) to lost education opportunities and the psychological burdens of running a household from an early age. It's commendable that there are so many organizations, both at the global and grassroots levels, that are committed to stopping child marriage. But now, thanks to the first ever International Day of the Girl Child, you can too! Here's the hashtag: #DayoftheGirl. Problem solved.
SAM PANTHAKY/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
After we shook hands and exchanged greetings, World Chess Champion and diehard Putin foe Garry Kasparov proved to be a vigorous walker, striding so rapidly with his two bodyguards that I had to break into a semi-trot or risk losing him in the crowd gathering on Pushkin Square. Within five minutes we reached the march's designated starting point on Strastnoy Boulevard, just a bit after the scheduled launch time of 2pm. Around Kasparov assembled his supporters, members of a group known as the United Civil Front, waving long droopy white flags; to our right was former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov; to our left anti-corruption firebrand Aleksey Navalny and his seemingly seven-foot-tall hoary-haired bodyguard; further to the left (both physically and politically), and amid a phalanx of youths bearing red flags, was Sergey Udaltsov, the indefatigable leader of the Left Front, in black shades and his characteristic black jacket. Tellingly, for the first time, he had not pinned the protest movement's symbol of peace -- a white ribbon -- to his lapel.
Photo By KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
Christian Caryl reports on the Salafi movement, which has been implicated in many of this week's protests around the Middle East.
Syrian journalist Malik Al-Abdeh argues that the Syrian National Council's lack of leadership has been a disaster for the revolt against Assad.
Political analyst Jay Ulfelder explains why Kim Jong Un may be about to embark on reform in North Korea.
Blair Glencorse and Charles Landow report on five East African nations that are working towards an economic community modeled on the European Union (but without a common currency, thank you).
Patrick Bodenham meets some of Burma's child soldiers, and examines why the government has failed to follow through on its pledge to end the problem. Christian Caryl explains why the predicament of Burma's Rohingya is becoming a new global cause célèbre for Muslims.
In an overview of recent papers on transition economics, Peter Passell explores the dynamics behind issues ranging from girls' schools to clean cooking stoves.
In a country where consulting a psychologist is taboo, Portia Walker explores the challenge of overcoming the civil war in Libya.
Endy Bayuni examines why few Indonesians are prepared to come to terms with the darkest chapter of the country's recent history.
Min Zin wonders whether the regime will succeed in its bid to co-opt the pro-democracy opposition through appeals to nationalism amid continuing sectarian strife.
Three Princeton researchers (Morgan Greene, Jonathan Friedman, and Richard Bennet) tell the story of how post-Yugoslavia Kosovo (with some help from the international community) managed to pull off a remarkable feat of state-building.
Endy Bayuni explains why Indonesians disagree about the start of Ramadan, and what it says about the country's climate of religious toleration.
[Editor's note: Alert readers of the Brief recently brought a technical problem to our attention. It's now been fixed, but we wanted to take the occasion to let you know that we welcome your feedback.]
As the political turmoil in Egypt grows, Mara Revkin and Yussuf Auf analyze the reasons for the gridlock around efforts to draw up a new constitution.
Writing on the Egyptian economy, Peter Passell suggests a way to reform an increasingly unworkable system of subsidies.
Mohamed El Dahshan looks at an ominous military degree that has gone largely unnoticed amid the breaking news from Cairo, and also takes the measure of the government's latest effort to whip up anti-foreigner sentiment.
Hanna Hindstrom assails Burmese media reporting on the wave of ethnic violence in Burma, noting how many reporters are using their newfound freedom to indulge in xenophobia.
Min Zin explores how the conflict benefits the military junta and hinders the maneuverability of the democratic opposition.
Christian Caryl explains why hopes that Russia might soften its support for Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria are unlikely to be borne out.
[Editor's note: Democracy Lab was operating on a reduced schedule for organizational reasons this week, but we'll be back to the regular rhythm come Monday.]
And now, this week's offerings from our bloggers:
Mohamed El Dahshan writes about the less-than-inspiring choices facing voters after the first round of Egypt's presidential elections.
Min Zin marks the first anniversary of Burma's continuing civil war.
Francisco Toro reports on the latest twist in the continuing saga of Hugo Chávez's cancer.
And Jackee Batanda takes a look at the latest tech success stories from Uganda.
Author Will Dobson, publisher of the new book The Dictator's Learning Curve, talks to Christian Caryl about why the despots aren't as dumb as you think.
Thomas Miller learns why Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy believes he can bring the Arab Spring to Southeast Asia.
Robert Looney explores Saudi Arabia's efforts to wean itself off of dependence on oil - perhaps giving hope to other commodity-driven economies.
Fadil Aliriza exposes the difficulties Tunisia's new government faces in rooting out corruption from the old regime.
Min Zin looks at Burma's first street protests in more than 20 years and examines their potential impact on the country's progress towards democracy.
Peter Passell argues that well-meaning efforts to reduce climate change won't work unless developing countries can be persuaded that it's good for the bottom line.
Francisco Toro shows why much-vaunted adult literacy programs in Venezuela haven't actually produced much bang for the buck.
Endy Bayuni analyzes the maneuverings in Indonesia's political elite -- including rumors that President Yudhoyono's wife could emerge as his most likely successor.
Mohamed El Dahshan makes the case for Tunisia as a soft-power leader in the Middle East.
And Christian Caryl explains why regulating the international arm trade can make life easier for fragile societies.
This week's recommended reads:
The big story of the week, of course, is the first round of the presidential election in Egypt. FP's own David Kenner offers a handy guide to the early results.
For those wishing to go into greater depth, the Atlantic Council's Egypt Source website presents a number of excellent background pieces on the election. Economist Hoda Youseff wonders whether Egyptians are really prepared for the changes that a new president will bring. Mustafa El-Labbad examines likely shifts in foreign policy following the election. And frequent Democracy Lab contributor Magdy Samaan offers a skeptical take on the prospects for political stability once the voting is over.
Elsewhere, Jadaliyya.com examines electoral trends in Egypt, while Ahram Online presents an intriguing interview with long-time dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Institute has published a detailed study of public attitudes in Libya in the run-up to that country's next round of elections in June. The bottom line: People don't believe the National Transitional Council is doing its job. And the Legatum Institute's Anne Applebaum, writing for Slate, offers a vivid dispatch from Libya that vividly captures the tension between chaos and hope.
The Jamestown Foundation offers a finely grained analysis of the Islamist insurgency in Yemen that has taken over several provinces in the south of the country. At The New York Review of Books blog, Hugh Eakin scrutinizes the role of Saudi Arabia as Washington escalates its involvement in Yemen.
At OpenDemocracy.net, the French journalist and Middle East expert Francis Ghilès reflects on the past few decades of Tunisia's history through the prism of his own biography.
A remarkable piece at ProPublica tells the extraordinary story of a man whose personal fate embodies the problems of transitional justice in Guatemala.
A new European Union survey documents the continuing discrimination faced by Europe's ethnic Roma.
Eurasianet.org explains how citizens in Central Asia cope with harsh governments and dysfunctional infrastructure. Writing for OUPblog (Oxford University Press), Alexander Cooley contends that the war in Afghanistan has actually reinforced authoritarianism and corruption in the rest of Central Asia.
And as Azerbaijan hosts the 2012 Eurovision song contest in Baku, Human Rights House tracks the fate of pro-democracy activists. (The photo above shows members of the group "Sing for Democracy.")
In the run-up to Egypt's long-awaited presidential election, Magdy Samaan takes to the streets to find out what his compatriots are thinking about the political situation.
Jaime Suchlicki outlines the challenges that will face post-Castro Cuba and provides some handy tips on how to cope with them.
In his column, Christian Caryl concludes that the Russian protest movement presents little threat to Vladimir Putin's continued rule -- at least not yet.
Peter Passell offers a user-friendly overview of some of the latest research on economic transitions.
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy interviews Robert Becker, who decided to stay in Egypt and have his day in court rather than leave the country with the other Americans implicated in the NGO affair.
Francisco Martin-Rayo argues that America is undermining Yemen's opportunity to build democracy for the sake of waging war on Al Qaeda. (The photo above shows Yemeni jihadis manning a checkpoint.)
Reporting from The Hague, Christopher Stephen explains why the welcome verdict against Charles Taylor shouldn't divert attention from the continuing irrelevance of the International Criminal Court.
We already know that drones are powerful weapons. In "Predators for Peace," Jack C. Chow depicts a not-too-distant future in which airborne robots can be used to boost humanitarian relief efforts and good governance.
As governments cut back on foreign assistance budgets, Peter Passell makes the case for a smarter approach to development aid.
Alina Rocha Menocal, noting that Latin America still suffers from gross inequality, sees the answers in sound public policy.
Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images
Thirty-five years after the end of the "Dirty War," Alex Gibson shows how a trial in Argentina is struggling to come to terms with a legacy of state-sponsored violence.
Peter Reuter explains why the West won't be able to contain money laundering from developing countries unless it cleans up its own act first.
Min Zin asks whether Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is making a mistake in her latest confrontation with the powers-that-be, and also offers an entertaining primer on the politics behind the latest Burmese New Year celebrations.
Mohamed El Dahshan explores the decision that has thrown Egypt's presidential election into disarray.
Juan Nagel shows why the Venezuelan government's recent decision to subsidize beauty products will score it political points.
Endy Bayuni explains how Aceh's separatist leaders have morphed from guerillas into governors.
And in his column, Christian Caryl argues that economic inequality is now becoming a hot political issue in both rich countries and poor ones.
This week's recommended reads:
In Foreign Affairs, Leon Goldsmith writes on the Alawite community of Syria and the motives for their persistent support of the Assad regime.
In an essay in the current issue of Journal of Democracy, political philosopher Abdou Filali-Ansary casts light on why many voters in the Arab world prefer Islamist parties -- and arrives at some surprising conclusions.
A new report by the International Crisis Group documents the growing fight over resources between the Iraqi central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government.
Writing for Project Syndicate, Alfred Stepan and Etienne Smith discuss the surprising resilience of democracy in Senegal.
Democracy Digest reports on the difficulties faced by Russian dissidents following Vladimir Putin's victory in the March 4 presidential elections. And the German Marshal Fund examines the recent release of imprisoned opposition leaders in Belarus. (The photo above shows activist Dmitry Bondarenko meeting his wife after leaving prison.)
And don't miss Jeffrey Bartholet's great travelogue from post-Mubarak Egypt in National Geographic.
VICTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images
Srdja Popovic and Robert Helvey explain why toppling dictators is only the first step in the transition toward democracy, and why activists need to plan ahead if they don't want to see their revolutions hijacked.
Peter Passell argues that emerging market economies have managed to protect themselves from the global economic crisis by embracing innovation.
Reporting from Burma on the dramatic election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy, Christian Caryl looks at the obstacles facing the country's pro-democracy activists as they move into parliament. Challenge number one: Dealing with the numerically superior forces of the pro-government party and the military.
Mohamed El Dahshan provides a snapshot of the simmering conflict between Tunisia's ultraconservative Islamists and secular moderates one year after the non-violent revolution that overthrew longtime secular president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images
It's been all Burma, all the time this week on the Democracy Lab, as we present our Burma Special Report. Experts weigh in on the crucial challenges the country must tackle in order to strengthen its path toward development, and (hopefully) democratization.
Tom Malinowski assesses the strength of sanctions in encouraging regime liberalization in Burma, and what its future leaders must do to continue this process.
In an excerpt from The Lady and the Peacock, a new biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, journalist Peter Popham shows the moments when Daw's extraordinary courage facing the Burmese military turned her into an iconic figure.
Rick Rowden assesses Burma's options for economic opening and development.
And Christian Caryl reports from Burma's former capital of Yangon, capturing the fever of excitement as well as the aura and strength of Aung San Suu Kyi. He also looks at how rampant corruption hinders the nation's possibility for development.
Some recommended reads for the week:
Stanford University's "Post-Soviet Post" looks at one factor impeding Ukraine's prospects for democracy (and the rule of law, and human rights): the pervasiveness of sexism in government.
Following the coup last week, a new report by the International Crisis Group discusses how to put Mali back on the path of constitutional order.
The Democracy Digest follows the feuding between the SCAF and Muslim Brotherhood, the two main contenders for power in Egypt.
An interview published in the Council on Foreign Relations gives an insider's view to the Arab League summit meeting in Baghdad this week.
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
DemLab Weekly Highlights, March 23, 2012:
Nowruz (Persian New Year) was celebrated throughout many Asian countries this week. Above, Kyrgyz women wear traditional costumes at festivities.
Tom Finn profiles Yemen's new leader and the challenges he faces in keeping the country united.
Christian Caryl explains why it's time for the U.S. to take pointers from the rest of the world in the fight against corruption.
Jackee Budesta Batanda reports on an initiative enabling Ugandans to tell their own stories to their compatriots and the world.
Peter Passell assesses the economic reasons for the failure of the war on drugs.
And Mohamed El Dahshan shows how Egyptian artists are challenging military rule in the streets of Cairo.
And here are this week's recommended reads:
A new study of transitional countries around the world by Germany's Bertelsmann Stiftung warns that "[p]olitical freedoms are increasingly being curtailed in many countries around the globe."
Writing on the Jadaliyya website, journalist Salah Al-Nasrawi argues that Arab journalists deserve more of a voice in Western media organizations.
A new Brookings Institution report suggests measures for resolving the oil dispute between Sudan and South Sudan that threatens to pour fuel on the fire of regional conflict.
The Institute for War and Peace Report offers an insightful report on a presidential election in South Ossetia, paving the way for a possible showdown between the breakaway republic's envoy to Moscow and a former KGB general.
A new study by the UK's Overseas Development Institute explores urban displacement in Jordan and the obstacles it poses to humanitarian assistance.
VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images
Transitions is the group blog of the Democracy Lab channel, a collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Legatum Institute.