Paul Pillar

The Kuwaiti Model

Much discussion about the authoritarian and undemocratic ways of the Middle East focuses on Egypt, which is not surprising given that country's size and historical centrality in the Arab world. Recent action in the streets has instead occurred in Tunisia, where escalating demonstrations have rocked the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Sadr Returns

The return to Iraq on Wednesday of Moqtada al-Sadr is being described by some as a surprise. It shouldn't have been. The young cleric had already shown enough of a taste for rough-and-tumble competition for power to make it unrealistic to think he would spend the next few years in Qom, hitting the books to be an ayatollah, much less that over the longer term he would lead a contemplative life.

Politicking in Pakistan

Americans observe the most recent political maneuvering in Pakistan—a withdrawal from the governing coalition by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), depriving the government of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani of a parliamentary majority—with perpetual nervousness about this South Asian nation of more than 170 million. The nervousness has intensified over the past couple of years.