The political ascent of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has created some unease in Washington, and in an attempt to counter that, the group dispatched a delegation to the U.S. capital this week for meetings that range from administration officials to think tanks and universities.
The Brotherhood has rapidly evolved into a powerful political force since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February of last year.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in Egypt are flexing their growing political muscle. They control the legislative agenda in parliament, and in recent weeks introduced controversial proposals to curb social freedoms and legal rights.
Islamist lawmakers also handpicked a 100-member panel that began meeting this week to write a new constitution, which is widely expected to enshrine Islamic law.
Even so, Islamist leaders say they want Egypt to remain a secular state. But many secular Egyptians are not convinced.
U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan says the Syrian government should be the first to enact a cease-fire, but there was no sign of that on Friday. More violence erupted in several Syrian cities as diplomats prepared for Sunday's meeting of the "Friends of Syria" in Istanbul, Turkey.
The gathering comes at a time of growing disaffection with diplomatic efforts and an increase in attacks by Syrian opposition fighters.
The Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, is a house divided. Its leaders say there are divisions among the ranks as they try to grapple with where to push the movement: toward moderation or a continued commitment to armed resistance against Israel.
Omar Shaban, a Gaza-based political analyst, wonders where Hamas is headed in the next two to three years. He says the changes in the region after the Arab Spring not only shook the world, but they also forced groups like Hamas to reassess where they stand, in terms of old alliances and future direction.