North Africa

It's been called the most successful alliance in world history. President Obama and fellow leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, are meeting at an important summit in Chicago this month to discuss the future of the alliance.

NATO troops have now spent a decade in Afghanistan, and more recently, NATO airpower helped to overthrow Moammar Ghaddafi in Libya. But in the face of economic stress, and war-weary publics in the United States and Europe, how will the alliance move forward?

Across the Arab world, Islamists are the new political power brokers. In elections in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, Islamists won big. Similar results are expected in Libya, and if the Assad regime falls, they might well emerge on top in Syria too. After decades of repression by secular rulers, Islamists are now poised to transform the region's politics and culture. But it's still not clear what they plan to do with their power, and what that will mean for those who don’t share their views. 

Is the U.S. losing the global race for the best and brightest entrepreneurial talent? It's the American dream -- move to the United States, start your own business and build a successful life. But, is the U.S. losing the global race for the best and brightest entrepreneurial talent?

In this month's America Abroad, we'll explore the role immigrant entrepreneurs play in the American economy, as well as what other countries are doing to attract foreign talent and lift themselves out of the global recession. This program is part of a four-part series on entrepreneurship.

In a world that seems increasingly secular, the role of religion remains surprisingly strong. Across the globe, nearly nine out of 10 people say they have some affiliation with religion. Yet, at the same time, conflicts because of religion are on the rise.

“People value the ability to practice their own religion more highly than they do the ability of others in their country to practice their religion. So you could call that somewhat of a religious intolerance gap.” –Brian Grim, Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life

While the Arab Spring may have toppled a couple of regimes, democracy alone can’t solve the bread and butter issues of the region. The Arab world faces a stark demographic dilemma: nearly a quarter of Arabs under 30 remain jobless. The bleak economic conditions that fueled the Arab uprisings have become the inheritance of any new governments that stand up in the region. And youth in the region aren’t likely to sit quietly and wait for economic change. 

A generation ago, young Arabs went to the streets to protest repressive governments. Now, they hop on the information highway – blogging and tweeting their discontent. They upload music, download protests. But this generation is up against rulers who know a thing or two about staying in power – and they are keeping the kids in check. It's an old battle on new ground – young activists fight to express themselves as Arab governments find better ways to outflank them. 

Sitting in limbo is where many young Arabs find themselves today. Nearly a quarter of Arabs under 30 are jobless. Long gone are the days of a guaranteed government gig, and the private sector is far from filling the gap. Today, Arab youth are searching for work and waiting for weddings. Some just want to leave the region – and its long unemployment lines – altogether. At best, unemployment and flagging Arab economies lead to a generation of bored and frustrated youth. At worst, economic conditions create a breeding ground for extremism and instability. 

The Arab world has the largest youth bulge on the planet. Millions of young people are living in a pressure cooker of social, political, tribal, and religious forces. We visit Jordan and Egypt and speak with young Arabs in America about their struggles with identity, and how globalization, Islam, and a turbulent region are shaping how they look at themselves, and the world. 

"General McChrystal’s plan for counterinsurgency — 50 percent of it is military. The other 50 percent is a development program, or a stabilization program." 
– Andrew Natsios, former USAID Administrator

"I think that public diplomacy has been done as if the channels of communication are the same as the 1980s. They have completely and radically changed, and I think Americans need to understand that the rules of the game have changed." 
–Lahcen Haddad, Professor at Mohammed V University

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