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22 Dec 2007 - 20 Aug 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: August, 2007
$700 Million Grant Awarded To Morocco
August 31st, 2007 by Shir
The IHT reports the U.S.’s Millenium Challenge Corporation has awarded a $700 million grant to Morocco. The grant will be used to encourage economic growth, and comes a week before Morocco’s parliamentary elections, in which the Islamist, Justice and Development Party is expected to make a strong showing, likely to lead a coalition government.
Posted in Foreign Aid, Morocco | Comment »
James Baker III Outlines Foreign Policy Ideals
August 31st, 2007 by Shir
In a highly important piece published in the National Interest, James A. Baker III discusses his vision for American foreign policy, outlining ten guiding principles he first unveiled earlier this year. Baker refers to his ideology as “Pragmatic Idealism,” which combines a value-based engagement in the world with a strategy to manage critical American interests.
Baker embellishes on this amalgam in his ninth principle, that “we should be mindful that values are important—but that they aren’t the only thing that should guide our policy.” He says “[p]romoting democracy and free markets around the world is rightly central to U.S. foreign policy,” while conceding both that they can bring “decidedly mixed blessings in the short run,” and that the difficulties in establishing them are appreciable.
“So, should we support free markets and democracy?” he asks, “Of course we should.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion | Comment »
Bitter Lemons: Two Years After Gaza Withdrawal
August 31st, 2007 by Shir
Bitterlemons-international hosts a forum this week on “Israel’s Gaza withdrawal: two years later.”
Ghassan Khatib argues Israeli unilateralism has played a large part in the deterioration of Israel-Palestinian relations as well as to the rise of Hamas.
Safwat Kahlout says the withdrawal gave way only to a more complete siege on Gaza.
Mohamed Abdel Salam examines Egypt’s challenges to the withdrawal.
Yossi Alpher says that of then-PM Ariel Sharon’s justifications for unilateral withdrawal - security, economics, international relations and demography - only the last has held up for Israelis.
Posted in Islamist movements, Israel, Palestine | Comment »
Fatah-Hamas Clash in Gaza
August 31st, 2007 by Shir
Fatah members in Gaza held an open-air prayer session to protest - as they claim - being expelled from Hamas​-controlled mosques. Clashes erupted when Hamas officials began to forcefully disperse the crowd, wounding 20.
Posted in Palestine | Comment »
MB Crackdowns, Mubarak "Deathwatch"
August 31st, 2007 by Shir
Amidst more ongoing crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Brotherhood has filed a complaint with the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Brussels against the recent detention of two MP’s affiliated with the group.
Meanwhile, the Arabist tell us Egyptian private media - in a spat of “wishful thinking” - have entered a “Mubarak Deathwatch” mode, after the President failed to appear at a sporting match. Mubarak seems to have caught on, and issued a statement refuting the rumors about his health, calling them products of “illegitimate movements,” in a not-so-subtle allusion to the Brotherhood.
Posted in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood | Comment »
Human Rights Abuses in Jordan’s Jails
August 31st, 2007 by Shir
The IHT reports a Human Rights Watch assessment released today says Jordan’s prisons are filled with human rights abuses, like illegal beatings and torture. The report details such violence as well as the failure to uphold due process rights for many inmates.
Posted in Jordan | Comment »
More On the Bhutto-Musharraf Deal
August 31st, 2007 by Shir
Michael Weiss posts a great roundup of blogger discussions on the power-sharing arrangement being considered between President Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto on the Slate blog. Interesting ideas are suggested, such as Bhutto’s more sinister political aspirations and how the U.S. should plan for Pakistan post-Musharraf.
Posted in Pakistan | Comment »
Our Voices Together Event: U.S. & The World
August 30th, 2007 by Shir
Our Voices Together held an event this morning on “Foreign Perceptions of the U.S. & American Understanding of Foreign Cultures,” in which four young foreign journalists spoke on various issues related to the media, cross-cultural understanding and perception, and violence.
Amr Emam (Egypt), stressed the U.S. is perceived negatively for its policies, not its values. He spoke about the deficiency in American media in covering events in the Middle East, in particular the atrocities the U.S. is complicit or involved in.
Sabrina Valle (Brazil) expanded on these issues, saying that global issues were absent from or distorted in American media. Miscommunication occurs, she said, because the rest of the world thinks Americans get the same news they do.
Mugumo Munene (Kenya) spoke about the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi to highlight a great disappointment for Kenyans in receiving American assistance, and the unequal focus on American deaths in the tragedy.
Shamim Ashraf (Bangladesh) stressed American foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly towards Israel and in Iraq, are at the heart of a deep mistrust of America.
The panelists agreed that personal connections and improved education in foreign issues would greatly support better global relations, and expressed hope for much improvement.
Posted in Foreign Aid, US media | Comment »
2008: More on Giuliani’s Foreign Policy Advisors
August 30th, 2007 by Matt
Following the profile of Martin Kramer in the New York Observer that I posted on a week ago, here’s an interview with Charles Hill, another of Giuliani’s foreign policy advisors, which appeared earlier in the month in the American Spectator. There’s a nice few-paragraph discussion of Hill’s views on democracy promotion, which seem slightly more optimistic than Kramer’s. Hill speaks of initiating a “process of democratization”, downplaying the idea that democracy in the Middle East is sheer fantasy, but emphasizing that we need to take a “realistic” approach to promoting democratic reform in the region.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Election 08, US politics | 1 Comment »
Turning Point For Democracy In Pakistan?
August 30th, 2007 by Shir
Many are discussing a piece by Benazir Bhutto in today’s LA Times, where the former Pakistani PM defends a democratic Pakistan as the best means to root out terrorism. “On dictatorship,” she says, “there can be no compromise. The parliament must be supreme.”
This piece comes one day after Bhutto announced that President Musharraf has agreed to resign his military post, and is to govern as a civilian. Today, Musharraf denied this statement, his spokesman saying that the President rejects “any pressure or ultimatum” to concede his uniform.
Posted in Elections, Pakistan | Comment »
Empowering Iran through Iraqi Democracy
August 30th, 2007 by Shir
David Ignatius, writing in the Daily Star, weighs the U.S.’s strategic and ideological uses of Iraq’s fragile democracy. He describes a CIA plan to fund political-action programs against Iran’s influence in the new Iraqi democracy. The program was pulled to preserve Iraq’s autonomy, he explains, yet laments that the move to preserve democracy resulted in ceding all influence to Iran.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Iran, Iraq | Comment »
Wider Effects Of Turkey’s New Leadership
August 30th, 2007 by Shir
In Haaretz, Saad Eddin Ibrahim and Mensur Akgun examine the reactions - and lack thereof - to Turkey’s re-election of the AKP and the Presidential election of Abdullah Gul. Success has come from the pressure AKP has placed on Arab autocrats, they write, as “through its own example, it paved the way for other Muslim Democrats.”
In the Daily Star, Soli Ozel says the “unprecedented amalgam of Islam, capitalism, and secular liberal democracy” in AKP-led Turkey is alive and well.
Posted in Turkey | Comment »
On Islam, Democracy and Secularism: Four Views
August 30th, 2007 by Shir
Today’s CS Monitor features an editorial forum on “Islam and the state,” in which four writers divulge their views on secularism, pluralism and Islam.
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im argues sharia is mistakenly perceived as being at the center of Muslim political aspirations. “The experience of the vast majority of Muslims across the world today is about struggles for constitutionalism and human rights, economic development and social justice,” he says, “not about the quest for Islamic states to enforce sharia.”
Jorgen S. Nielsen writes of the difficulties to accepting secularism in the Muslim world, pitting an inclination towards “a religious political system” against “modern, pluralistic secularism.”
Jocelyne Cesari disagrees; believing Islam and pluralism to be far from contradictions, she says “members of democratic, Muslim-majority societies would want religious norms to be acknowledged in public social life.”
Bill Warner argues “two Korans” instruct the handling of Muslims and non-believers differently, arguing “authentic Islam and authentic secularism … contradictions.”
Posted in Political Islam | 1 Comment »
Cutting Deals in Pakistan
August 29th, 2007 by Audrey
Though still unconfirmed by his own office, the rumor that President Musharraf has agreed to doff his uniform is gaining credence and being repeated by his own ministers as well as party officials within former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Buzz is also increasing regarding a power-sharing deal between Musharraf and Bhutto that is reportedly close to completion. American Prospect’s TAPPED blog questions whether Musharraf’s step down from the military is symbolic or substantive​.
Meanwhile, some observers are closely watching the imminent return of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan, predicting that some of Sharif’s former party members “may be emboldened to defect when the former premier returns.”
Posted in Pakistan | Comment »
Michel Aoun: "Lebanese Charles de Gaulle" or "Divisive Megalomaniac"?
August 29th, 2007 by Audrey
A MERIP analysis by Heiko Wimmen focuses on Lebanese politician Michel Aoun, tracing the roots of both the support and notoriety awarded to the controversial Christian leader.
Posted in Lebanon | Comment »
"Don’t Fear Gul"
August 29th, 2007 by Audrey
In the Huffington Post, Henning André Søgaard joins the chorus of those who seek to reassure the US that, based on newly-elected Turkish President Abdullah Gül’s track record in government, “the West has little to fear,” noting that he has made key reforms, protected minorities, protected freedom of speech and worked toward bringing Turkey into the EU.
Posted in Turkey | Comment »
Sects and Politics in Baghdad
August 29th, 2007 by Audrey
In the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson discusses the intractible nature of sectarian alliances in Iraq and points to Bush Administration actions post-9/11 as a more appropriate example of polarizing - or “sectarian”- politics.
Marc Lynch discusses the irrelevance of US benchmarks for many players within Iraq and expresses some skepticism regarding the amount of real political capital behind the recent reconciliation efforts made by the major political parties.
Posted in Iraq, Sectarianism | Comment »
Maliki on the Possibility of a Coup
August 29th, 2007 by Audrey
In an interview with McClatchy News Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki spoke about the current challenges facing Iraq. Here’s a segment of the interview, in which Maliki is asked about the possibility of a coup attempt:
MALIKI: This is a sick mentality, a hangover, from the Baathist era. The era of coups has departed. Rule was through security and military agencies, but now the people rule. Coups were the distinguishing character of rule in the country and the people were excluded from the process. Now no one has the capability or the power to pull off an overthrow in this country and those who travel to the capitals of the world begging for support are delusional. This country will see no more such overthrows. The only possible overthrow is from within the constitutional democratic establishment. And if it were to be achieved through the parliament and the democratic political establishment then I am happy and it is welcome. Indeed I would cheer it on because for the first time we would have effected change through political means and not by weapons and tanks.
FADEL: But can the parliament really agree on anything?
MALIKI: So, then the government is safe. (laughter)
Posted in Iraq | Comment »
Richardson on Late Edition, Edwards on Face the Nation
August 28th, 2007 by Matt
In his Late Edition interview on Sunday morning, Bill Richardson​elaborated on his “fundamental difference” with the other Democratic candidates for president–his plan for withdrawing American forces from Iraq in six months and leaving no residual forces. American forces would be replaced by an all-Muslim peacekeeping force operating under a UN mandate, protected by a political agreement dividing oil revenues, a power-sharing agreement, and possibly a Biden-style soft partition.
Meanwhile, over at Face the Nation, John Edwards reiterated his plan to slowly begin troop withdrawals. Preparing for the post-withdrawal presence in the Middle East, Edwards said he would consider ratcheting up our presence in Afghanistan, maintaining a naval presence in the Persian Gulf, creating a rapid deployment force based out of Kuwait, and stationing some American troops in Jordan if the Jordanian government would allow it.
Too bad they were on different morning shows–a substantive discussion about post-Iraq scenarios between just a couple candidates would be much more interesting and useful to voters than the current debate format.
Posted in Election 08, US politics | Comment »
New Perspectives On Democracy
August 28th, 2007 by Shir
The September/October edition of Foreign Affairs includes an essay (purchase required) adapted from Michael Mandelbaum​’s new book, Democracy’s Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World’s Most Popular Form of Government​. In it Mandelbaum argues democracy is on the rise world-wide, despite a failure of American democracy promotion.
Amaney A. Jamal’s book Barriers to Democracy: The Other Side of Social Capital in Palestine and the Arab World, investigating civil society’s influence on democracy, is reviewed by L. Carl Brown.
Posted in Democracy Promotion | Comment »
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