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Middle East Focus is a weekly podcast featuring talk and analysis on U.S. foreign policy, contemporary political and social issues in the Middle East, and the arts and culture of region. It is produced by the Middle East Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. For more information visit

Apr 30, 2024

About the series: This is a critical year for the future of democracy. Half the world’s population will go to the polls in 2024, at a time when citizens in America and across the globe are losing faith in democratic institutions. We often view the rollback of democracy and threats to the liberal international order as separate problems, but in reality they are closely interlinked. Through a new limited podcast series, MEI’s Gonul Tol seeks to examine the interplay between democracy’s domestic and international foes as well as how to counter them.  

In this episode: According to the World Justice Project, 2023 was the sixth year in a row in which the rule of law has declined in most countries. The rule of law is a cornerstone of democratic societies - promoting fairness and ensuring accountability. 

Thomas Carothers and Vali Nasr join Gonul Tol to answer the questions: What is the relationship between the rule of law and democracy? Why is the rule of law challenged in places like the Middle East, and can the West help advance it?