Welcome to Al Ajnabee!

Greetings readers! And welcome to Al Ajnabee.

This blog is a joint project between two good friends and students of the Mid East. Our goal is simple: we aim to provide clear-eyed analysis on regional developments while paying specific attention to American foreign policy. We will do our best to provide context, analyze the under-reported, reveal broader trends, explain our assumptions, and editorialize sparingly.

While both of us have written extensively on the region–be it online or during graduate school–this blog is an experiment of sorts. For both of us it is an opportunity to polish our skills. It’s also a way for us to reach an audience interested not just in the day-to-day events but also how these events are changing nations, allegiances, expectations, and attitudes on a systemic level.

Our name and look deserve some explanation. Al Ajnabee (Arabic for “The Foreigner”) is a loaded name. We chose it because it conjures up emotions like suspicion and uncertainty. For decades now the United States has been heavily invested in the Middle East with mixed and sometimes tragic results. In the wake of the 2011 uprisings, the US will, in all likelihood, lose some influence as people replace individuals in key halls of power. Changes like this do not spell the end of American involvement, however. As the region redefines itself the United States will have to recalibrate its approach. The picture in our header underscores this point: the American soldier and Iraqi child are holding hands, but they’re moving in different directions.

We hope you will participate and spread the word. We can’t wait to hear from you.

From our Purpose section:

Systemic change is coming to the Middle East as revolts sweep the region. Common grievances, so long suppressed, are reconfiguring nations, governments, and politics. Some regimes have fallen; others are under siege. Revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries employ new and old tactics to decide the fate of millions. Without a doubt, a new Middle East is emerging–one in which the people are empowered, governments must choose between violence and reform, and relations within and among nations are subject to change.

At the same time, American power is being challenged anew by regional developments, domestic pressure, and rising powers around the globe. Many worry about America’s debt and global profile. And in the Middle East, where for so long the United States has invested so much, the foundations of American dominance are in question. The country’s physical presence is declining steadily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the collapse of friendly and unfriendly regimes presents Washington with new opportunities and dangers. Challenged in so many ways, America’s approach to the region must be sensitive to all these factors, including those not yet apparent.

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