Chris Boucek and Hossam Tammam, RIP

Two Middle East analysts who were friends of mine passed away recently. I woke up this morning to an email from the Carnegie Endowment announcing that Chris Boucek, an expert on security issues and the Arabian Peninsula, suddenly died on November 2 in Washington, where he lived. Chris and I studied together in the late 1990s at SOAS in London, and he lived in Cairo where he was managing editor of the Middle East Times for a while. An appreciation from Carnegie is here, I frequently linked to his work, such as warning about the political situation in Yemen back in 2009. His death really came out of nowhere, he is only a few years older than I am.

A few days earlier, the pioneering Egyptian researcher of Islamism, Hossam Tammam, passed away after a long illness. Tammam's 2004 book on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which he was a former member of, was a groundbreaking critical study of the problems the group faced. As an editor at Islam Online, Tammam also developed a leading Arabic-language forum for discussion of Islamist movements by Islamists. I first met him seven or eight years ago, at a mutual friend's apartment, and instantly liked him, he foreshadowed the post-2005 of independently-minded, critical-thinking Islamists who rejected the dogma and authoritanianism of the organizations they had come of age in. Khalil al-Anani, his generation's other leading analyst of Egyptian Islamism, wrote an appreciation here, and here are links and commentary we made here on Hossam's work.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.