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.