Ben Bland argues that Vietnam's economic miracle is losing steam, and makes the case for why the Communist Party is to blame.
Gamze Coskun explains why Turkey's rhetoric about promoting democracy in the Middle East lags behind its capabilities.
Karen Coates reports on why Cambodians would like to see Obama defend their human rights.
Juan Nagel explains why Venezuelans vote the way they do.
Min Zin offers a few helpful tips to President Obama in his dealings with Burma.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
Seamus Martov explains why conflict and cronyism in Burma are hurting tigers as well as people.
The United States Institute of Peace presents a valuable new report on the politics of security sector reform in Egypt.
Morten Jerven argues that bad statistics are misleading us about the health of African economies.
The Cairo Review of Global Affairs offers an interview with former U.S. Ambassador, Ryan Crocker on the Iran and Syria crisis and what we can learn from Iraq and Afghanistan.
At The Monkey Cage, James Fearon wonders why it's so easy to seize power in certain African states.
The FT's Jonathan Kay shares his thoughts on the motives behind rent-seeking.
Aidan Hartley tells the story of a successful London restaurateur who returned to his home in Somalia to show the flag against the Islamists of Al-Shabaab.
The International Crisis Group presents a paper detailing possible paths out of the crisis that Egyptian politicians now find themselves in.
Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
Gaza resident Asem Alnabeh posted a photo of his little sister Nesma earlier tonight in their home. Her name means breeze. "But she really isn't," her brother writes me. "she's very impish!"
Nesma's house has lost electric power. There are fighter jets roaring over the house, and there are explosions never too far away -- not sufficiently far for the worried parents to attempt to calm their kids by lying to them that "oh, that was nothing."
Photo by Asem Alnabeh
Their budgets may be a tad tighter and their delegations smaller, but developing countries are no less excited about the Olympics than their northern counterparts. There are, in fact, a number of transition countries with Olympic stories that are making big waves in their home nations and around the world. (And the clumsy responses of the International Olympic Committee almost always help to make the waves even bigger.) Here's a brief roundup of the Nations in Transition Olympic News (let's call this our NiTON review):
1. The South Sudanese athlete with no flag
The rigid IOC rigid rulebook stipulates that a new country's application to join the organization must take two years. South Sudan, which has declared independence in July 2011, falls short of this criterion. The IOC, with its usual brilliance, suggested that the South Sudanese athletes compete under the Sudanese flag -- not the most sensitive suggestion for the various parties involved, considering that South Sudan recently celebrated the first anniversary of secession from its northern neighbor.
Tunisia is not the largest or most populous Arab country. It is not at the heart of the Levant and its conflicts, and it does not host U.S. military bases (as do many of the Gulf countries). As far as Arab countries are concerned, Tunisia has always been the quiet cousin, keeping to itself in the corner of the room.
But this is changing rapidly. Now Tunisia is poised to claim a more prominent role for itself.
Tunisia's status as the "cradle of the Arab Spring" is not the primary factor in this shift. (You may remember that Egypt's revolution received far more coverage than Tunisia's.) Rather, it is the successful management of the post-revolutionary phase that is steadily pushing Tunisia onto center stage, both globally and regionally.
FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images
Earlier this week, the first democratically elected parliament in Egypt in sixty years held its opening session in Cairo. Just under half of the lawmakers belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is set to exercise power in the country for the first time since it was founded 84 years ago. Inna Lazareva speaks with Dr. Mohammed Ghanem (pictured above), the Brotherhood's spokesman in London.
Foreign Policy: It's been a year since President Mubarak's resignation, and his appointees in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) are still in power. Now that the Muslim Brotherhood has become the strongest force in Parliament, how will you manage relations with the SCAF?
Mohammed Ghanem: This first parliament in Egypt is critical. The Muslim Brotherhood will not be able to exclude the SCAF or its influence, at least during this initial term. Equally, the Supreme Council will not simply give up its privileges. The military has an interest in politics and it has a very strong involvement in the economy, which sometimes contradicts their job of protecting the country. But eventually I hope that democracy will enable us to reach a good balance and to emulate models such as the United Kingdom. The SCAF will be given due respect for protecting the country. It will be impossible to deny them political participation, but we realize the need to restrict them from heavily influencing political decisions as before. We know that we have to be very delicate in balancing the power. Compromise is a good policy to adapt and, although people on the street will not always appreciate this compromise, there is simply no other way.
FP: There has been much speculation about the 1979 Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel. What is the Muslim Brotherhood's position on this?
MG: This is not a straightforward matter. In the Qur'an, Israelites are a people descended from the respected King Daoud (King David). We also distinguish between the Jewish people and the Zionist movement. Lastly, we always look at the issues of Palestine and human rights legally. If someone takes someone else's land, this should not be tolerated. At the same time, no figure in the Muslim Brotherhood will take a decisive stand on the issue of Israel for the whole of Egypt. Such matters require the full political process to reflect the will of the people and will be decided in parliament.
FP: Egypt's economy is suffering from corruption, an inflated public sector, and the government's subsidy policy. What are your priorities for getting the economy back on track?
MG: I can assure you that all the politicians in the Brotherhood understand that subsidies are bad. But the high rates of unemployment and poverty make the question of dealing with subsidies very awkward in Egypt. There has to be a balance between solving the problem and managing the consequences, which could be disastrous. Subsidies will have to be phased out gradually, and a well-regulated market should eventually be given the mechanism to determine prices. How long this will take, and how this will be dealt with politically, depends on the harmony of the parliament. We have to find a way to convince the Egyptian people that they have been indulged in subsidies against their own interest and for the benefit of the rich. This is difficult, as many people don't fully understand the negative effects the subsidies have on the economy.
The priority for now is to form the new parliament, agree on a constitution, elect a president, and decide on how authority between parliament and the president is divided. Nobody can predict an outcome yet.
Over the past five or ten years, the public sector experienced a highly corrupt change in ownership. Businesses have been demolished, destroyed, sold at a loss to Mubarak's gangs. When you steal from the poor who are already poor, the effect is disastrous. As an economist, I think that the whole international financial system is a farce at the moment. I predict that the next international revolution will be against the banking institutions. This has already begun with the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the attacks on the private houses of bank managers is a new phenomenon which should not be ignored. You can't have justice in a human society without economic justice.
Transitions is the group blog of the Democracy Lab channel, a collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Legatum Institute.