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22 Dec 2007 - 28 Jul 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: July, 2007
Press Conference Responding To Saudi Arms Deal
July 31st, 2007 by Shir
Congressmen Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Mike Ferguson (R-FL) led a bi-partisan group of House Representatives in a press conference today in response to the announcement of an arms deal being discussed with Saudi Arabia. The Representatives have announced their intention to block the deal by supporting a Joint Resolution of Disapproval “the minute Congress is officially notified.”
Rep. Wexler said, “[i]t is critical that Congress block the sale of these high tech weapons to Saudi Arabia given its abysmal record in combating terrorism and unwillingness to crack down on extremists.” Rep. Weiner also rebuked the deal saying “[w]e need to send a crystal clear message to the Saudi Arabian government that their tacit approval of terrorism can’t go unpunished,” and added that “Saudi Arabia should not get an ounce of military support from the U.S until they unequivocally denounce terrorism and take tangible steps to prevent it.”
Also present at the press conference and supporting a Joint Resolution of Disapproval were: Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ) Barbara Lee (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL).
The Saudi arms deal could take a center role in September amidst an expected surge in debate about arms deals and reform goals.
Posted in Saudi Arabia | Comment »
ICG Report: "Elections, Democracy and Stability in Pakistan"
July 31st, 2007 by Audrey
The International Crisis Group has just released a new report; “Elections, Democracy and Stability in Pakistan.” In the executive summary, they note that, “Moderate political parties, all segments of civil society and the public at large are vociferously demanding restoration of democracy and rule of law and the military’s withdrawal from politics. The choice is not whether a transition will come but whether it will be peaceful and orderly, through free and fair elections, or violent.”
Meanwhile, rumors circulate that President Musharraf and Former Prime Minister Bhutto have made a power-sharing agreement that is contingent upon Musharraf leaving his military post.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Pakistan | Comment »
Municipal Elections in Jordan
July 31st, 2007 by Audrey
David Schenker, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, released yesterday an analysis entitled, “Jordanian Islamists and Municipal Elections: Confirmation of a Problematic Trend?” in which he discusses the effect of the Islamic Action Front (IAF) on the elections.
Today, underscoring the political sensitivity of this exercise in democracy, the IAF announced its withdrawal from the elections, accusing the government of fraud.
Posted in Elections, Jordan, Political Islam | Comment »
American Values in Foreign Policy
July 31st, 2007 by Audrey
With a nod to her debate last week with Ezra Klein over the place of values in US foreign policy, Anne Marie Slaughter writes in an op-ed to the IHT that “[d]emocracy is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of securing individual liberty” and that “[a] sensible strategy of supporting democracy around the world, then, would recognize the long-term and complex nature of the task.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion | Comment »
Challenges to Iraqi Democracy Promotion
July 31st, 2007 by Audrey
Steven Groves, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, gives a thorough backgrounder on the challenges facing democracy promotion in Iraq, touching on the need for security, civil society resource centers, provincial reconstruction teams, democracy promotion NGOs, and the effects of “middle-class flight.” Groves argues that a precipitous withdrawal “would scuttle democracy promotion” efforts in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the L.A. Times​discusses Iraq’s parliament and its failure to move past recurrent deadlock.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Iraq | Comment »
Is the AKP Really a Liberal Party?
July 31st, 2007 by Audrey
In the continuing debate over the nature of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), Howard Eissenstat argues that concerns that the party is “nothing more than an Islamist wolf in democratic sheep’s clothing,” are overstated.
Posted in Political Islam, Turkey | Comment »
Reactions To Saudi Arms Deal
July 31st, 2007 by Shir
News this weekend reported on the Bush Administration’s plan to offer a huge arms deal to Saudi Arabia and the Arab gulf states, amounting to $20 billion worth of military equipment, including “advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels.”
The deal comes at a time when concerns over Saudi Arabia’s support for Sunni insurgency in Iraq are being raised. Administration officials have said Iraqi security issues were not discussed with Saudi Arabia as part of the deal, which some decry as contradictory and irresponsible. A State Department official has said the deal is aimed to counter Iran’s military capabilities and nuclear development, while some point out that the move contradicts the Bush Administration’s recent meetings with Iran to collaborate over security in Iraq. Others say that Saudi Arabia is beginning to wield too great an influence over the U.S.
Opposition to the deal has already mounted in the House, with some Congressmen​promising to block the deal, many concerned it will compromise security and further militarize the region. Human Rights Watch‘s Washington director Tom Malinowski discussed the dangers of the plan to promoting governance reform, saying “[t]his will reduce pressure on Egypt and the Arab states to reform their politics. It’s another case of trying to purchase stability at the expense of liberty.”
Posted in Saudi Arabia | Comment »
ON THE FLOOR: Iran sanctions
July 31st, 2007 by Shir
This morning the House votes on two pieces of legislation expanding sanctions on Iran:
HR 2347: Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007
A bill to authorize state and local governments to direct divestiture from, and prevent investment in, companies with investments of $20,000,000 or more in Iran’s energy sector, and for other purposes. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
HR 957: A bill amending the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to expand and clarify the entities against which sanctions may be imposed. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Stay tuned for updates on the bills.
Posted in Iran | Comment »
POMED REPORT: Landmark Legislation on Democracy and Middle East Foreign Policy
July 31st, 2007 by Stephen
As mentioned here yesterday, on Friday the House passed H.R. 1, the “Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007,” after the Senate passed the bill on Thursday. The final version of the bill includes most provisions of the ADVANCE Democracy Act, a historic piece of legislation that declares it to be U.S. policy “to promote freedom, democracy and human rights as fundamental components of United States foreign policy” and includes several measures to further institutionalize U.S. promotion of democracy abroad.
In addition, H.R. 1 includes substantial policy provisions related to U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and toward particular countries in the region. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law sometime this week.
Click here to read POMED’s report on this important legislation.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Legislation | Comment »
2008: Giuliani To Be Tough on Saudi Arabia?
July 31st, 2007 by Matt
According to a blurb by Yaakov Lappin on ynetnews.com, Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy advisor Norman Podhoretz suggested in an interview last week that a potential Giuliani administration would take a different tack in its relations with Saudi Arabia. The website quotes Podhoretz as saying, “I think that Rudy does actually have a different attitude (than Bush) and might very well try to change our policy.” Podhoretz goes on to suggest that the Saudi regime’s concern with Iran could give the U.S. an opening to be more persuasive in convincing them to “cease financing jihadist agitation.”
Posted in Election 08, US politics | Comment »
2008: Obama, Paul, and "Neo-Isolationism"
July 31st, 2007 by Matt
In his Sunday Times (of London) column, Andrew Sullivan ruminates about the strength of the Barack Obama and Ron Paul candidacies, and whether their continuing appeal portends a transformational shift in America’s foreign policy–toward a sort of “neo-isolationism”. Sullivan writes, “Many Americans look at trying to coax democracy or even stability in the Arab world and conclude that it’s a mug’s game.” As a result, he wonders whether a candidate embracing more long-term engagement in the Middle East is electable in 2008–or if the foreign policy winds in the U.S. are truly changing.
Posted in Election 08, US politics | Comment »
POMED’s Weekly Wire – July 30
July 30th, 2007 by Shir
POMED’s Weekly Wire for July 30th has been released, covering the past week’s developments related to U.S. foreign policy and prospects for democracy in the Middle East. The Weekly Wire features key legislative news, ongoing policy debates in Washington, as well as updates from the Middle East.
Read this week’s Weekly Wire here.
Posted in POMED, Weekly Wire | Comment »
Upcoming Events
July 30th, 2007 by Shir
Check out POMED’s Event Calendar for upcoming events touching on democracy and the Middle East
Tue, July 31st
10:00 am – Brookings: Moving Forward: Interpreting Turkey’s July 22 Election. Dr. Soli Ozel of the Department of Political Science of Istanbul’s Bilgi University will speak.
10:00 am – House Committee on Foriegn Affairs: Mark up, including several pieces of legislation regarding the Middle East, human rights and democracy.
Wed, Aug 1st
11:30 am – Atlantic Council & AIDemocracy: Transatlantic Approaches to International Law. A half day conference for young global leaders.
6:30pm – Jerusalem Fund & CCAS: Belonging – Voices of Palestine Summer 2007 Film Series. The film by Tariq Nasir will be screened.
Thur, Aug 2nd
9:00 – MEI: Discussion with Governor of Baluchistan​, who will discuss the situation in Baluchistan, focusing on Pakistan’s role as an important frontier of the global war on terror.
Posted in Uncategorized | Comment »
"Muslims Speak Out" Forum
July 30th, 2007 by Shir
Newsweek and the Washington Post’s joint forum On Faith features a “Muslims Speak Out” section which includes diverse discussions on the role of Islam in the modern world.
Posted in Islamist movements | Comment »
Rooting for Iraq
July 30th, 2007 by Andrew
This morning’s news brought an incredible story – a story that quite honestly got me a bit choked up on the metro ride into work this morning. Against all odds, the Iraqi national soccer team defeated the Saudi team 1-0 on Saturday to win their first ever championship in the prestigious Asian Cup. A 50-1 longshot going into the tournament, the Dubai-based sportscaster calling the game said, “This is not an achievement for the Iraqis, this is a miracle of the Iraqis.” Amazing.
Putting aside how we got there, and even, for a moment, putting aside the question of what we should do next, one thing we must share in common – We are all rooting for Iraq.
Posted in Uncategorized | Comment »
Security in Pakistan Through Democratic Reform
July 30th, 2007 by Shir
An editorial in the CS Monitor​examines the challenges posed to a democratic reform in Pakistan, and argues that the U.S.’s security interests compel it to promote this process.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Pakistan | Comment »
Doubting A Liberal Turkey
July 30th, 2007 by Shir
Writing in the WSJ, WINEP‘s Soner Cagaptay questions the liberal nomenclature attributed to Turkey’s governing party, the AKP, pointing to growing anti-American sentiments under their leadership. Although business and the economy have blossomed under AKP governance, says Cagaptay, “capitalism alone does not make a country liberal. It also needs a sense of common destiny with the Western world, a sense sorely missing in the AKP’s Turkey.”
Posted in Turkey | 1 Comment »
H.R. 1 Passes Senate and House
July 30th, 2007 by Andrew
On Friday, Congress passed the conference-approved version of H.R. 1, the “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007,” which includes provisions of the ADVANCE Democracy Act of 2007 co-authored by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) in the House and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the Senate. The legislation was passed by the Senate Thursday night.
The legislation affirms that it is U.S. policy “to promote freedom, democracy and human rights as fundamental components of United States foreign policy” and includes a number of measures to further institutionalize U.S. promotion of democracy abroad.
In addition, H.R. 1 includes substantial policy provisions related to U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and toward particular countries in the region.
President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law sometime this week. POMED will provide a report on the legislation shortly.
Posted in Uncategorized | Comment »
2008: Commentary on Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy
July 30th, 2007 by Matt
In a column published in the Chicago Tribune on July 26, Steve Chapman professes surprise at the hesitance to intervene militarily in Darfur expressed by Hillary Clinton in the latest Democratic debate. Chapman sees this statement as an aberration that contravenes most of Clinton’s past statements, which seem to be broadly supportive of U.S. military intervention in support of liberal ideas like democracy promotion.
Elsewhere, Steve Clemons agrees with Barack Obama’s assessment of Senator Clinton’s foreign policy as “Bush-lite”, and hopes to nudge Clinton in a more “Nixon-lite” direction. Clemons then elaborates further on what he’d like to see more of from both Clinton and Obama. Washington Note guest blogger Sameer Lalwani adds some more advice for the dueling Senators.
Posted in Election 08, US politics | Comment »
Criticism of Press TV
July 27th, 2007 by Shir
In the Weekly Standard Louis Wittig takes a critical look at Iran’s newly launched government funded English news channel, Press TV. Wittig challenges Press TV’s claim to good journalism by claiming “that their bias is merely a corrective for the other networks’ bias.”
Posted in Iran | Comment »
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