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The past year has marked a transformative shift in the Middle East and North Africa, as protestors in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen took to the streets calling for political reform. Today, four of those countries have different leaders, but events in Syria have taken a very violent turn, and peace between Israel and the Palestinians remains elusive.

Founding director Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian recently traveled to the region, and shared his firsthand impressions of recent events in the March 21 edition of the Baker Institute Update, our email newsletter. Djerejian touches on an array of issues, including Israel"s prospects for peace with the Palestinians; discussions with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in 2003 that left the clear impression the president was in no rush to carry out meaningful political and economic reforms -- as has been evident in his regime"s actions in the wake of the Arab Spring; and the decision by the United States and its allies to rightly resist calls for military intervention in Syria, to date.