Editors' foreword.

Position:Turmoil in the Middle East - Column - Brief article

Events in the Middle East reverberate beyond its precarious borders. Ongoing turbulence in the region, notably in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Iran, continue to challenge states' ability to engage their citizens and the global community. The Arab Spring, with origins in marginalized youth, poor governance, and the rise of social media, unleashed a tide of civilian discontent. In many cases, the transnational forces of terrorism and violent extremism have capitalized upon existing dissatisfaction, posing increasing threats to peace and stability.

Our authors in this issue--human rights advocates, policy analysts, UN officials, civil society leaders, professors, and students--shed much-needed light on these challenges. Threads are woven between the forces behind regional spillovers of conflict, the illegal drug trade in Syria, and the role of youth in peacebuilding, among other topics. Ambassador William J. Burns, credited by NPR's Renee Montagne in 2015 as "quietly creating the foundation for the greatest diplomatic breakthrough with Iran in 35 years," shares his insights...

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