Happy New Year! It's been four years since I moved my Abu Aardvark blog over to Foreign Policy as part of a relaunch which has succeeded beyond anyone's projections (thanks Dan, Susan and Blake!). And it's been about two years since I launched the Middle East Channel. So this seems to be time for a change. As Laura Rozen reported last week, I will be joining the admini.... just kidding! [*] No, instead I'm thrilled to announce that tomorrow will be the launch of my new weekly FP column on the Middle East and U.S. policy.
The column will cover the same basic turf as the blog. It may have slightly more emphasis on the Washington dimension, but don't expect any radical changes. I'll still be writing about Arab politics, reporting on developments across the region and offering up my own analysis of the big issues, and working in Jay-Z, Phineas & Ferb and Calvin & Hobbes references as often as possible. I see the new column as an opportunity to make a regular, more formal weekly contribution to the broader foreign policy debate, engaging with a wider audience and set of issues.
Don't worry, though -- Abu Aardvark and the Middle East Channel aren't going anywhere. In fact, for now I see this as something of an Abu Aardvark 4.0 relaunch. Over the last year, mostly because of the time I spend editing the Middle East Channel, Abu Aardvark evolved into one column-length piece a week. I mostly posted shorter pieces, videos, and the release of our Briefs over in the "Middle East Channel Editor's Blog."
At a certain point, though, I began to find this arrangement overly confining. The expectation that every post would be a fully developed analytical column didn't leave much room for the quicker, less formal blogging that I used to do more regularly. So with the launch of my column, you'll still see those longer analysis pieces here, but I plan to also begin using Abu Aardvark again for shorter hits, for discussion and development of the columns, and for more of the kind of material which had been going into the Editor's Blog.
I'm excited about the new column and the chance to return to some old school blogging here. Thanks to everyone for your support, readership, feedback and interest over the last four years (or more than ten, if you count the pre-FP blog) --- I hope that you'll enjoy the new column and blog. Stay tuned for tomorrow's launch!
[*] Actually, while it's flattering to be included in the DC buzz, it's not going to happen. Yes, I advised the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012, but it wasn't to get a job. I've just agreed to stay on as director of the Middle East program at GW for another two years, and I take that commitment to my students and colleagues very seriously. The fact is, I love what I do. I love teaching, I love writing, I love independence, I love being able to engage with policy issues from the outside, and I really really really love seeing my kids (note to Anne-Marie: not just a women's thing!).
Top image: a friend found what is clearly an Aardvark in the newly reopened Islamic art wing of the Louvre. What would Dave Sim say?