MECS offers the most comprehensive and authoritative annual review of developments in the Middle East. Produced by the Shiloah Institute of Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center, whose scholars write most of the chapters, this nineteenth volume follows the established format, with survey essays on 22 countries, plus chapters on U.S.-Middle East relations, the peace process, Islamic politics and inter-Arab affairs. An introductory summary provides in a mere sixteen information-packed pages easily the best summary of 1995's developments in the region. Each volume also contains some specialized essays, in this case on Kuwait's demography and on economic ties with the European Union.
Until recent years, MECS also included chapters on military matters and oil developments; while these topics may seem less pressing today, they remain central to understanding developments in the region, and especially in the Persian Gulf. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction does not get the attention it deserves. Also, while coverage extends from Morocco to Iran, the volume is strongest on the Levant and weakest on the Persian Gulf. Few would agree with the MECS judgment, for instance, that the change in government in Qatar went well: the deposed emir kept the $8 billion in the national treasury, which he in 1996 used to mount a failed armed attack (with foreign mercenaries) on the new emir, his son. Errors exist (the Comoros are not in the Arab League) but are rare. The standard of scholarship is high, with the authors relying heavily on original sources in Middle Eastern languages. The book is not cheap, but offers good value for the money.