5 Best Blogs to Better Understand the Middle East


Here are the top five resources and bloggers you should follow for smart, balanced, and well-written analysis of the Middle East. Follow each to stay on top of the latest from the Arab world:

(1) Shadi Hamid's articles for The Atlantic

While not a blog in the traditional sense, Shadi Hamid's own page on The Atlantic's website offers smart, informative, and well-researched opinions on a host of subjects in the Middle East. Perhaps one of the most knowledge writers on the subject of the Arab World, Hamid incorporates his scholarly background from his work at the Brookings Center to weave a historical narrative into the events happening today. His coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt, is perhaps the most complete, detailed, and insightful analysis of the group's leadership and its political potency. American war hawks beware, Hamid has a subtle but present Arab tilt in his writings. 

(2) Foreign Policy Magazine's Middle East Channel

Similar to Shadi Hamid at The Atlantic, the Middle East Channel is less of a blog. Unlike at The Atlantic, however, The Middle East Channel has several contributing staff writers which offer a variety of opinions and outlooks on the Middle East. The site does a good job of going beyond the breaking news headlines and uncovering stories that are rarely told elsewhere. A mix of more traditional reporting on and detailing situations and analysis on topics (particularly pertaining to the U.S.) provide a good mix of news and opinion.

The Middle East Daily Brief feature is particularly insightful and strong, but more videos and multimedia could be added to enhance the stories being told.

(3) Juan Cole's Informed Comment

Juan Cole's writing and analysis of the Middle East on Informed Comment is clear, concise, and an exemplary example of journalism at its best. Cole's experience and time spent in the region is unparalleled, allowing him to skillfully interpret, analyze, and describe the events of the day both in their historical context and as separate unique incidents. That Cole is fluent in Arabic affords him an exceptional luxury that allows him tell the stories that few others can so artfully capture. While his books are worth reading, the blog is more a mash-up of national and Middle East-related news making it at times distracting for readers with a singular focus for Middle East news. 

(4) The Arabist

Started by a freelance journalist based in Egypt in 2003, The Arabist is the go-to blog for breaking news and analysis about all stories related to Egypt. True to its name, the blog maintains an anti-SCAF, pro-Arab populist perspective and has been an absolutely essential destination for readers interested in the revolution and ongoing unrest in "umm al-dunia" (Egypt's nickname, meaning "mother of the world"). If you've had a story, picture, or video picked up by The Arabist you have cracked Egypt's tough freelance scene.

(5) Joshua Landis's Syria Comment

For those who want around the clock updates, detailed personal accounts, and insightful dissection on the daily violence and happenings in Syria, Oklahoma University Middle East Chair Josh Landis's blog Syria Comment is the destination for everything Syrian related. From articles on the crumbling Syrian economy to roundups of the daily violence to op-eds for and against intervention in Syria, Landis offers a balanced perspective of what is transpiring in Syria from several angles and opinions. There is no better blog about Syria on the web today.

Not technically a blog, but here's #6 for good measure: Al Jazeera's English 'Live Blog'

Not a blog for in-depth analysis, Al Jazeera's English 'Live Blog' is more for the reader interested in breaking news, often overlooked facts, and updates on the various conflicts going on around the Arab World. The 'Live Blog' which was recognized as a leader in coverage during the Arab Spring for posting realtime news, photos, and video about the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Libya and elsewhere has since become an aggregator of various news wires and Middle East blogs keeping readers informed with the latest violence, court rulings, or trials taking place in the Middle East. Updated by Al Jazeera staff members and journalists, the 'Live Blog' offers dramatic pictures and videos exclusive to Al Jazeera that make it worth coming back to.

Photo Credit: Jake Horowitz