Dossier: Mashriq

Symbolic graffiti: relay runners from Libya, Egypt and Tunisia prepare to hand over the flame of freedom to Yemen and Syria (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Three years after the Arab Spring

Self-criticism and genuine dialogue required

Arab Islamists and secularists fought alongside each other in the Arab Spring revolutions. But once they had removed the hated despots from power, they became embroiled in political trench warfare and revealed an astonishing lack of democratic maturity, says renowned Moroccan analyst Ali AnouzlaMore

US President Barack Obama speaking in the White House about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, 7 August 2014 (photo: Reuters)

The Middle East policies of Europe and the US

Mistakes must not be repeated

For years, the West's foreign policy approach to the Middle East has been short sighted and counterproductive. A shrewd blend of engagement and restraint in the region is now required. However, where there is a threat of genocide at the hands of terrorists or regimes, civilians must be protected using all available means, writes Kristin HelbergMore

Arabic calligraphy (photo: picture-alliance/Tone Koene)

The Arabic language

A better understanding

Arabic is spoken in 22 countries, but people from different countries don't necessarily understand each other. The language is split up into numerous dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible. The Arab spring went a long way towards unifying the way Arabic is used in everyday life. Translators are working on an online dictionary to help standardise the language for business purposes. By Charlotte Schmitz and Guido ZebischMore

Hartmut Faehndrich (photo: Ruth Renée Reif)

Interview with literary translator Hartmut Faehndrich

"What I don't see is an on-going interest in Arabic literature"

Hartmut Faehndrich is one of the most renowned translators of Arabic literature in the German-speaking world. He has translated nearly 60 novels into German. In this interview with Ruth Renée Reif, he explains why Arabic literature is undervalued in the German-speaking worldMore

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian conflict and the advance of ISIS

Assad and the myth of the lesser evil

Assad has used chemical weapons and laid waste to entire neighbourhoods and regions with barrel bombs. However, in the West, fears of what ISIS Islamists could achieve loom so large that Syria's dictator continues to be seen as a smaller part of the problem. By Bente SchellerMore

The Lebanese journalist and political scientist Abdel Mottaleb El-Husseini. Photo: private

Interview with the political scientist Abdel Mottaleb El-Husseini

Lebanon: "A mixture of vacuum and volcano"

A million Syrian refugees, a catastrophic economy and increasing domestic hostility towards Hezbollah: the war in Syria is pushing neighbouring Lebanon to the limit. Mona Sarkis spoke to the Lebanese journalist Abdel Mottaleb el-Husseini about the current political situation in his countryMore

US Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in Baghdad. Photo: Reuters

The Iraq crisis and the West

The ugly new order in the "Fertile Crescent"

Iraq is in the grip of a devastating inner-Islamic religious war. The conflict has an inherent dynamic that cannot be stopped by presidential wishful thinking or a hurried visit to Baghdad by US foreign minister John Kerry. Stefan Buchen commentsMore

Karama co-ordination meeting in Cairo on 7 October 2011 on the occasion of the establishment of the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace (photo: Dominique Margot)

Women's movements in the transitioning Arab states

For dignity, peace and equal rights

Despite all the setbacks suffered by many women's rights groups in the transitioning Arab states, regional co-operation has improved considerably over the past few years. Juliane Metzker takes stockMore

Joumana Haddad (photo: Ceyda Nurtsch)

Interview with Joumana Haddad

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"I don't believe in female solidarity"

The Lebanese journalist and writer Joumana Haddad is considered one of the most courageous women's rights activists in the Arab world. In this interview with Ceyda Nurtsch, she talks about the erotic magazine "Jasad", feminist stereotypes and why the "Arab Spring" was just another winterMore

Max von Oppenheim in his tent in Djebelet el-Beda, Syria, 1929 (photo: Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung)

The German archaeologist and explorer Max von Oppenheim

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Enchanted by the Myth of the Orient

Max von Oppenheim was an astute observer of the Near East. He was also captivated by its history, culture and way of life. In fact, Oppenheim's entire adult life is an illustration of how difficult it is to reconcile the captivating dream of the Orient with the sober political reality of the region – a difficulty that remains to this day. By Kersten KnippMore

Zahra Ali (photo: private)

Book review: Zahra Ali's "Islamic Feminisms"

Female emancipation based on the spirit of Sharia

In 2012, the French sociologist Zahra Ali published a book entitled "Féminismes islamiques" (Islamic Feminisms), a compilation of ground-breaking articles by female Muslim scholars and activists from around the world. It has just been published in German translation. Claudia Kramatschek read the bookMore

Palestinian women protesting in Ramallah (photo: Mohanad Adam)

Women's shadow councils in Palestine

Strengthening women's voices

In the Palestinian Territories, a legal quota stipulates that at least 20 per cent of all seats on municipal councils must be held by women. As progressive as this sounds, elected councilwomen often face opposition and obstacles. A local non-governmental organisation is lending them support in a most original way. By Reham Alhelsi and Petra SchoeningMore

Hamas chief Ismail Hanija (right) and Fatah representative Azzam al-Ahmed in Gaza City on 23 April 2014 (photo: Reuters)

Reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah

No peace without Palestinian unity

The Palestinian organisations Hamas and Fatah plan to seal an alliance with each other – primarily out of necessity. Reconciliation is difficult; the danger of failure is great. It is for precisely this reason that the US and Europe should support the process. A commentary by René WildangelMore

A poster of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi seen in central Cairo. It reads "Sisi, son of Egypt. You are free. Son of freedom" (photo: Reuters)

Terrorism and repression in the Arab world

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On Islam, anti-terrorism and fascism

One of the reasons why there is little outcry over the repression practised by secular governments in the Arab world is that there is a lack of empathy for those who are affected by it, writes Charlotte WiedemannMore

Syrian opposition figure Michel Kilo in Istanbul (photo: Ozen Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian opposition groups

Time to join forces

The well-known Syrian opposition figure and journalist Michel Kilo believes that only a national alliance of all rebel groups can break the terrorism perpetrated by the organisation Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the Assad regimeMore

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