The new issue of Middle East Report is out. It focuses on youth issues in the region - it's full of really interesting articles, including a good overview piece by Ted Swedenberg and my own article on Muslim Brotherhood bloggers. Those are free online, along with a wealth of fascinating material in the print edition.
"Young Brothers in Cyberspace" is one of the two articles that I wrote up after returning from Egypt - I hope that it does justice to the fascinating trends and individuals I saw emerging there. I started writing this piece before the issue really started to heat up - and then watched as over the course of a few months the MB bloggers emerged as one of the hottest and most contentious issues within the Brotherhood. I got the article as up to date as possible before it went to the printers (amazingly so, all things considered), but still couldn't capture the denouement of the recent dust-up over "Ikhwan Offline", al-Masry al-Youm's attempt to again cast the bloggers as threatening to split the MB, Mohammed Habib's suggestion in an interview that bloggers talk to their elders before rattling off the first thing which comes into their heads, or the official Ikhwan Online's publication of Ahmed Abd al-'Atti's advice to and Mustafa al-Naggar's defense of the MB bloggers. Also, I've presented the material three times since completing the article and given the opportunity I would probably have adjusted a few minor points (mainly of emphasis and presentation) in light of the excellent feedback. At any rate, I'm really happy with the article and hope that y'all enjoy it. Thanks to all the Brotherhood bloggers and activists who took the time to meet with me (including Abd al-Monem Mahmoud, AbdulRahman Rashwan, AbelRahman Ayesh, Mohamed Hamza, Ibrahim Hodeybi, Khaled Hamza, Abdelrahman Mansour and so many more - including others like Magdi Saad and Asma el-Erian whose blogs I've long followed but didn't get a chance to meet, and analysts like Khalil el-Anani, Diya Rashwan, Mona el-Ghobashy, and Chris Toensing who helped put it all in perspective). I hope they find it accurate and useful, even if some of the conclusions might not be totally as they might have liked. I don't think that these MB bloggers are alone going to change Egypt, or even that they'll necessarily win their internal battles over the Brotherhood's future - but it's a fascinating and important trend worth respect and attention which has become a surprisingly potent issue in recent months.
Both my and Ted's articles are available online for free. I'm glad that it will therefore reach a wider audience, but there's also a more serious issue there. MERIP, for decades one of the single best sources for quality analysis of the Middle East, has fallen on even tougher financial times than usual, as post-9/11 foundation interest has begun to dry up. They're facing a $60,000 shortfall, which in some political quarters would be the bar tab for a weekend conference but in the non-profit world is rather steep. Now would be a good time, if you're so inclined, to subscribe or donate or do what you can to save this invaluable institution.
And now, I'm off to Montreal for the MESA annual meeting. Hope to see friends new and old there!