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22 Dec 2007 - 25 Aug 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: April, 2007
2008: Fred Thompson Would Support Revolution in Iran
April 30th, 2007 by Matt
The Associated Press reported on Saturday, April 28, that prospective Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson would seek to assist the Iranian people if they attempted to overthrow the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Thompson suggested that the U.S. “capitalize” on popular antipathy to the current Iranian regime. Pairing Thompson’s words with a news report of student protests at Iranian universities, Michael Ledeen at National Review Online likes Thompson’s sentiments​.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Election 08, Iran, US politics | 1 Comment »
Mauritania: Arab Liberalism in Action
April 30th, 2007 by Jonathan
In the Weekly Standard, James Kirchick writes an article about the success of democracy in Mauritania. Kirchick notes that this success was achieved on their own terms and without much foreign intervention. Mauritania should be held as an example of successful Arab democracy and should be publicized as much as possible by the US State Department, he writes.
Posted in Mauritania | Comment »
US Democracy Funds Lead to Suspicions in Iran
April 30th, 2007 by Jonathan
The Washington Post is reporting that recepients of $75 million in US aid designed to promote democracy in Iran have “faced interrogations, detentions, imprisonment and passport confiscation over suspected links to the new U.S. funding”. Apparently the Iranian regime is worried about the kind of revolution that took place in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Soviet Union. An Iran analyst for Human Rights Watch states: “They are obsessed with the perception that the U.S. is fueling a velvet revolution through this money.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Iran | Comment »
What Happened to the Freedom Agenda?
April 30th, 2007 by Jonathan
Jackson Diehl, in his column at the Washington Post, writes about the unfulfilled promise of Bush’s “Freedom Agenda” since the start of his second term. In the article, Diehl writes about former dissident and Bush adviser Natan Sharansky and how disappointed he was with the execution of the democracy promotion policy. Sharanksy states: “There was never a strategy for applying it. There was no unity of purpose”. However, both Diehl and Sharanksy believe there is some hope left for the Freedom Agenda, but it is going to take a major effort to win over abandoned Arab liberals.
Posted in Democracy Promotion | Comment »
The Muslim Brotherhood: Islamic Democrats?
April 30th, 2007 by Jonathan
The New York Times Magazine has an excellent article by James Traub. It is too long to recount here, but I strongly urge you to read it to find out how the Brotherhood is working for political openness in Egypt. The piece also does a great job describing the recent history of the group and how it operates in the current climate of repression by the Mubarak regime. However, I would have liked to see more about the Brotherhood’s support of Hamas and how they reconcile that with their repudiation of violence.
The Arabist also has a good summary post of the article. He also points to the Leiken and Brooke article on US engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood in Foreign Affairs that we posted two months ago.
Posted in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Political Islam | Comment »
Turkish Military Threatens Intervention
April 30th, 2007 by Jonathan
Following up on a post we did last week about Abdullah Gul. On Friday, the Turkish Military, long a powerful force in Turkish politics, issued a statement saying that it was ready to intervene directly to defend secularism, seemingly in opposition to the mildly Islamist Gul. On Saturday, the government came back with this statement: “It is unthinkable in a democratic state based on the rule of law for the general staff, which is subordinate to the prime ministry, to speak out against the government”. The Turkish Military has a history of political intervention and coups and is apparently trying to influence the constitutional court’s ruling on the presidential vote.
Update: 700,000 pro-secularist protesters marched against Abdullah Gul’s candidacy yesterday in Istanbul. This follows a similar rally that took place in Ankara two weeks ago.
The Wall Street Journal recommends sidelining the military in this case (subscription required).
Posted in Turkey | Comment »
2008: Obama Delivers First Major Foreign Policy Address
April 28th, 2007 by Matt
Senator Barack Obama on Monday, April 23, gave a major foreign policy speech on a visit to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Obama’s speech was marked by recognition of a “globalized world” that necessitates vigorous American engagement. His five-point plan revolved around: a phased withdrawal from Iraq; a strengthened, streamlined military; international WMD security; reconstruction of alliances; and investing in the “common humanity” of people around the globe.
Needless to say, the speech received a great deal of coverage. The Washington Post editorializes on an “encouraging” start for Obama. The New York Times gives further detail of Obama’s core principles, which also included thoughts on a new approach to the spread of freedom and democratic reform around the world. As posted earlier on the POMED blog, Times columnist David Brooks tries to parse the philosophical underpinnings of Obama’s foreign policy rhetoric (TimesSelect required). POMED associate Shadi Hamid contends that it was not enough at Democracy Arsenal. The Daily Kos community is also not particularly impressed. Andrew Sullivan is enamored by Obama’s leadership potential, and Matthew Yglesias says Obama has the “vision thing” down. At TPM Cafe, Steve Clemons breaks down some of the foreign aid numbers Obama cited in his speech. Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly wonders whether Obama’s desire to increase the size of the military portends more interventions in the future.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Election 08, US politics | Comment »
2008: Democracy Promotion Not on Agenda at First Democratic Presidential Debate
April 28th, 2007 by Matt
With this post, Matt Hickey joins us to cover the presidential candidates and their stances regarding U.S. support for democracy in the Middle East. POMED won’t take sides - at least not for now - but we will be watching the candidates very carefully to see which ones advocate policies most in line with our principles. If you hear or read something about one of the candidates and their views on democracy and the Middle East, let Matt know. You can e-mail him at matthew.hickey@pomed.org. — Andrew
The first debate of Democratic presidential candidates was held in South Carolina last night, with about one-third of the time spent on foreign policy issues. Debate moderator Brian Williams of NBC News did not pose any questions on democracy promotion, and discussion of the issue was limited to the decline of democracy in Putin’s Russia. All the candidates expressed their common beliefs that the U.S. should leave Iraq, with Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel spearheading the push for an immediate departure, and the other candidates favoring a more incremental approach. Joseph Biden advocated for his policy to decentralize Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, capturing the popular view among the candidates that a political solution is necessary to fix what has become a political problem. David Broder of the Washington Post sees a number of strong contenders​. The New York Times comments on the unity exhibited between the candidates. Election Central at TPMCafe posts a comprehensive roundup. Jeffrey Feldman at Huffington Post provides a view from the left, while the Conservative Voice focuses on candidates’ criticisms of the Bush administration.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Election 08, US politics | Comment »
Senate Passes War Supplemental, Bill Headed to Bush
April 27th, 2007 by Jonathan
The Senate agreed to the conference committee report on HR 1591, the war funding bill by a vote of 51-46. The bill will now go to President Bush, where he will likely use only the second veto of his administration.
Posted in Afghanistan, Congress, Iraq, Legislation, US politics | Comment »
The Role of Broadcasting in U.S. Public Diplomacy toward Iranians
April 27th, 2007 by Jonathan
Mehdi Khalaji, a Next Generation fellow at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, writes that while Washington has stepped up its public diplomacy campaigns towards Iran, many of these initiatives are flawed in ways that hinder their goals and do little to reverse anti-American sentiment in the country. Khalaji takes a comprehensive look at the various U.S.-based broadcasting initiatives aimed at Iranians and offers criticisms on the current policy.
The New Republic, in this piece by Azar Nafisi, states the America’s best hope in Iran lies with the people and not the political system or military action, stating: “The most important weapon in the U.S. arsenal is not its military might but its culture. Vigorously defending and promoting those values the United States was long thought to represent–freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of conscience–will do a great deal more than any missile to neutralize Iranian radicals”.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Iran | Comment »
A Response to Tariq Ramadan
April 27th, 2007 by Jonathan
Raymond Ibrahim, writing in the National Review, responds forcefully to Tariq Ramadan’​s assertion that “Islam and democracy are not incompatible in their tenets of equality and freedom for all” (read more about Ramadan here). Ibrahim insists that terrorist violence only takes place in Muslim countries and that, even if only 20% of the Muslims are distorting the faith into violence, that still leaves 200 million enemies of the West. He asks: “why are we not seeing suicide bombers in other dictatorial, oppressive, and impoverished regions of the world, many of which were also colonized by Europe?” Hopefully we can see a response from Ramadan and keep this discussion going.
POMED founding member Shadi Hamid also posts his thoughts on the subject at Democracy Arsenal.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Political Islam, Terrorism | 1 Comment »
EVENT: CSID, The Rights of Women in Islam and Muslim Society
April 27th, 2007 by Jonathan
POMED Member Alejandro Beutel is speaking today at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. His topic, The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: A Preliminary Assessment of its Positions on Religious Freedom, Women and Religious Minorities, is a very interesting one and I encourage everyone to check it out. More information can be found here.
Posted in Muslim Brotherhood, POMED, Political Islam | Comment »
POMED Op-Ed: Jordanian Election Law
April 27th, 2007 by Jonathan
POMED Chair David DeBartolo has an opinion piece in today’s Daily Star. In it, he discusses the Jordanian parliamentary elections, scheduled for this year, and how current election law under-represents urban population centers (which happen to have large Palestinian segments). He also follows the proposed changes to the electoral system and argues that these changes will not, in all likelihood, be passed by those in power.
Posted in Jordan, POMED | Comment »
COMMITTEE MEETING: Report on House Foreign Affairs Hearing on America’s Image Abroad
April 26th, 2007 by Stephen
This afternoon, the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight of the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled, “Efforts to Deal with America’s Image Abroad: Are They Working?
Mr. Jess T. Ford, Director of the Office of International Affairs and Trade in the U.S. Government Accountability Office, stated his concern that rising anti-Americanism may hurt American business interests around the world, hinder the ability of the U.S. to achieve foreign policy goals, and pose security risks to Americans abroad.
Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, focused on ways of improving U.S. public diplomacy, including improving coordination between existing government agencies that undertake public diplomacy and the creation of a new semi-governmental agency to fill in important gaps.
Full written transcripts are available for the testimony of Mr. Ford and Ms. Curtis.
Posted in Committee Meetings, Congress | Comment »
Momentum for Democratic Reform in Saudi Fading?
April 26th, 2007 by Stephen
In the International Herald Tribune, Hassan M. Fattah​reports from Jeddah that the city councils seen as symbols of hope and coming democratic change when created in 2005 have now become symbols of political stagnation and loss of hope for real change.
Posted in Saudi Arabia | Comment »
Malley & Agha on Arab Peace Initiative
April 26th, 2007 by Stephen
In the New York Review of Books, Rob Malley and Hussein Agha write a detailed analysis of the current state of things among Israel, the Palestinians, other Arab countries, and the United States. They examine recent attempts to resurrect the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative from Israeli, American, and Arab perspectives and describe possible scenarios for moving forward, but ultimately fail to see the “political creativity, boldness, and skill” required for real progress.
Posted in Israel, Palestine | Comment »
COMMITTEE MEETING: House Foreign Affairs on America’s Image Abroad
April 26th, 2007 by Stephen
This afternoon at 1:30 pm, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Efforts to Deal with America’s Image Abroad: Are They Working?” The featured witnesses will be Mr. Jess T. Ford, Director of the Office of International Affairs and Trade, in the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The hearing comes two days after the release of new polling data from four Muslim Countries by PIPA/WorldPublicOpinion.org (see post below) showing a continued decline in attitudes toward U.S. policy abroad.
Posted in Committee Meetings, Congress | Comment »
Michael Young Calls for Constitutional Reform as Part of the Solution in Lebanon
April 26th, 2007 by Stephen
In an important Daily Star piece, Michael Young sees small signs of progress in the Lebanese political stalemate, and he calls on the March 14 forces to reach out in two directions: first, toward the Shi’a community by offering long-overdue political reforms giving the Shi’a greater representation in exchange for the disarmament of Hizbullah, and secondly, to Michel Aoun, offering him a greater voice in the nomination of the next Lebanese President in an attempt to break him away from Hizbullah.
Posted in Lebanon | Comment »
Can We Make Them Hate Us Less?
April 26th, 2007 by Stephen
In the LA Times, Sonni Efron​responds to recent WorldPublicOpinion.org polling data from four Muslim countries, and asks whether the US can “make them hate us less.” Her reading of the data is less than optimistic.
UPDATE: Marc Lynch has an interesting discussion of the same polling data, noting that favorable opinions of democracy remain dominant, despite the worsening view of U.S. government policies.
Posted in Egypt, Iraq, al-Qaeda | Comment »
David Brooks on Obama’s Foreign Policy
April 26th, 2007 by Stephen
In the New York Times, David Brooks talks to Barack Obama (TimesSelect required) about foreign policy, following Obama’s major foreign policy speech in Chicago on Monday. According to Brooks, when Obama “is confronted by what he sees as dovish passivity, he argues for the hardheaded promotion of democracy in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.”
And Brooks quotes Obama on his central doctrine of foreign policy, “The single objective of keeping America safe is best served when people in other nations are secure and feel invested.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, US politics | Comment »
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