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22 Dec 2007 - 23 Aug 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: December, 2007
POMED’s Weekly Wire - December 31
December 31st, 2007 by Stephen
POMED’s Weekly Wire for December 31st has been released, covering last 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 Weekly Wire | Comment »
Still Waiting for Political Progress from Surge
December 28th, 2007 by Celest
David Ignatius, writing for the Daily Star, notes how the military success of the surge in Iraq highlights the need for more political success and looks at US plans to encourage that political progress.
Posted in Iraq | Comment »
The Post-Bhutto Pakistan?
December 28th, 2007 by Celest
Today, many people are reacting to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and trying to figure out what should happen now. Many authors argue that pushing harder for democracy is the best action for the US. An editorial in the Washington Times argues that to avoid chaos and disaster in Pakistan, the US and other states “must seek policies that quell turmoil and push democracy and stability — even if those policies lead to a less-than-ideal scenario.” An editorial in the New York Times argues that “American policy must be directed at building a strong democracy in Pakistan…. The days of Washington mortgaging its interests there to one or two individuals must finally come to an end.”
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal says that Bhutto’s strategy–“a real fight against terrorism that would give jihadists no rest; and a real democracy that would give them no fake grievance–looks to be the only formula by which Pakistan may yet be saved.” An article by Husain Haqqani, also in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) continues to make this point. “In her death, as in her life, Benazir Bhutto has drawn attention to the need for building a moderate Muslim democracy in Pakistan.”
Some, such as Medea Benjamin at the Huffington Post and Mansoor Ijaz in the Christian Science Monitor, have argued that the elections in Jan. should be postponed to allow Bhutto’s party, the PPP, to regroup and allow for a more democratic contest. However, others, such as David Ignatius in the Washington Post, argue that the best legacy for Bhutto is to go ahead with elections as scheduled. On the other hand, some people, like China Hand writing at American Footprints, fear that Pakistan has already lost the opportunity for peaceful transfer of power. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Elections, Pakistan, Terrorism, US foreign policy | Comment »
Commitment to Afghanistan
December 27th, 2007 by Sean
Joschka Fisher argues in the Daily Star today that, while increasingly difficult, the situation in Afghanistan is ‘not hopeless’ and calls for a renewed NATO commitment to its mission in the country.
Posted in Afghanistan, Military, Uncategorized | Comment »
A President in the New Year?
December 27th, 2007 by Sean
Difficulties remain as Lebanon’s political forces struggle to decide on how to amend the constitution to allow consensus candidate General Michel Suleiman to become president, leading to another likely postponement of elections, the Daily Star reports. Earlier this week, Josh Landis argues that the U.S. does not have a foreign policy strategy in Lebanon willing to face the country’s new political reality.
Posted in Elections, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Political Parties, US foreign policy, Uncategorized | Comment »
Power Struggles in Iraq
December 27th, 2007 by Sean
The Washington Post reports yesterday on the political and military struggle between Iraqi Shiite leaders Muqtada al Sadr and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq’s Abul Aziz al Hakim. Meanwhile, Ilan Goldenberg at Democracy Arsenal draws attention to statements from Iraqi officials indicating their government’s distrust of paramilitary Sunni Awakening Councils.
Posted in Iraq, Islamist movements, Political Parties, Sectarianism​, Uncategorized | Comment »
State Department Shortfalls
December 27th, 2007 by Sean
Blake Hounshell writes yesterday at FP Passport of the U.S. State Department’s ‘woes’. Hounshell argues that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have only exacerbated an already existing problem of budgeting shortfalls. He cites an article by Mark Johnson in this month’s Foreign Service Journal which provides data to trace the ‘critically understaffed’ department’s ’snowballing deficit.’
Posted in Afghanistan, Diplomacy, Iraq, US foreign policy, Uncategorized | Comment »
The Haj as a Political Offering?
December 27th, 2007 by Sean
Earlier this week at American Footprints, China Hand​juxtaposed two recent Saudi invitations to pilgrimage, one to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad​, and the other to Pakistan’s deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry, who was offered an invitation in exchange for ceasing demands for the reinstatement of justices who refused to take a loyalty oath during the state of emergency.
Ahmedinejad has accepted the invitation to join the Haj, while Chaudry declined the Saudi Arabian ambassador’s offer.
Posted in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized | Comment »
Shifting Alliances Among Iraqi Parties
December 27th, 2007 by Sean
On his blog yesterday, Marc Lynch writes of a little-reported development in Iraqi politics, a recently formed alliance between Tareq al Hashemi, head of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, and the two major Kurdish parties, led by Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani.
Posted in Uncategorized | Comment »
Benazir Bhutto Assassinated
December 27th, 2007 by Sean
Pakistani People’s Party leader and former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today during a political rally in Rawalpindi. Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) of the House Committee on Foreign Relations has called for a renewed U.S. commitment to “the people of Pakistan and the voices of moderation” in the wake of this “atrocious attack” and several governments have condemned the attack, including the U.S., Russia, and Iran. Fellow opposition leader Nawaz Sharif blamed President Pervez Musharraf.
An interesting piece in the Times Online surveys the possible fate of elections, the PPP’s leadership, and the Pakistani government and military’s response. Bhutto recently enjoyed the most popular support of any political leader in Pakistan.
Spencer Ackerman at TPM Cafe writes of the prospects of another declaration of emergency and quotes Barnett Rubin as stating that U.S. strategy in Pakistan is now “in tatters,” while at the National Review Online, Mark Steyn criticizes Bhutto’s ‘recklessness’ and the U.S. State department for viewing her as a viable leader.
Posted in Elections, Pakistan, Terrorism, US foreign policy, Uncategorized | Comment »
Despite Lifting the State of Emergency, Musharraf Now Needs to Build Bridges with the Opposition
December 26th, 2007 by Amanda
Irfan Husain in the Daily Star says now that President Pervez Musharraf has lifted the state of emergency in Pakistan, ”there must be sighs of relief in the United States and Israel” because “Should there be an American decision to attack Iran or its nuclear facilities, Pakistan’s long common border would be crucial to the success of such a campaign.” Also, Husain notes that “Musharraf is the only Pakistani leader to have publicly advocated a debate on finally establishing diplomatic relations with Israel” and “Musharraf has not used the usual anti-Israel rhetoric so common in the Muslim world.”
However, despite having support from the West, ”the legitimacy [Musharraf] so ardently desires continues to elude him” and “If he cannot build bridges to the opposition, he will remain vulnerable​.”
 
Posted in Israel, Pakistan, Terrorism | Comment »
New Opportunities in Syria
December 26th, 2007 by Amanda
Julien Barnes-Dacey in the Christian Science Monitor writes that “President Bashar al-Assad’s economic liberalization policies have spurred many Syrian-Americans…to leave their comfortable American lives and return to Syria.” One person comments that ”There are tremendous opportunities right now in Syria. Things economically are accelerating rapidly and every day there are new unorganized opportunities.” Moreover, “New laws are easing over 40 years of private investment restrictions, opening up most economic sectors to private capital, dramatically loosening Syria’s tight foreign exchange regulations, and rationalizing tax rates.”
However, the article says that “readapting to life in the Arab world has been difficult for some” because “After years in the US, many have come to love a country widely condemned in the Arab world.” One Syrian-American says, “I tell them that if you live in America you can never find as good a place in terms of lifestyle, freedom, options, and opportunities. There is no place on earth like America. Forget politics – in terms of the human condition and the living environment you cannot find a place like the US.”
Posted in Freedom, Reform, Syria | Comment »
POMED’s Weekly Wire - December 24
December 24th, 2007 by Amanda
POMED’s Weekly Wire for December 24th 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 »
Analysis of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill
December 21st, 2007 by Celest
POMED has prepared a report that compares the presidential budget, House, Senate and final omnibus versions of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2008, H.R. 2764. The original House version of the bill passed on June 22, 2007, and a Senate version then passed on September 6, 2007. As year-end efforts to agree on FY08 funding came to a head in late fall, the bill was used as the vehicle for an omnibus appropriations package, which cleared the House on December 17th and Senate on December 18th and was cleared to go to the White House on December 19th. On Friday, December 21, 2007, the President signed a stopgap measure continuing federal funding through December 31, giving him an additional ten days to review the omnibus bill before signing it.
POMED’s report looks at how all the versions compare for funding to specific Middle Eastern countries and for general democracy promotion programs.
Posted in Afghanistan, Congress, Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Foreign Aid, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Reports, US foreign policy | Comment »
Why Sadr Considers Ceasefire
December 21st, 2007 by Celest
Several bloggers have commented on the possibility of Muqtada al-Sadr extending his militia’s ceasefire.
Matthew Duss says that “Sadr’s stand-down order was consistent with a pattern he had set over the last few years, in which he periodically pulled back to allow rogue elements of his militia to be picked off by coalition forces.” Cernig looks at some of the motives for Sadr’s actions and who his role model is. Eric Martin also comments.
Posted in Iraq | Comment »
You Make It Possible
December 21st, 2007 by Celest
Your contributions make POMED possible.  Only through your donations can we continue all of our dialogue events, in Washington and in the Middle East, our blog and our newsletter. Thank you for supporting our work and our goal: to promote understanding of how genuine, authentic democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the U.S. can best support that process.
If you have already made a donation, THANK YOU.  If not, please donate now.
Posted in Uncategorized | Comment »
Little Progress Towards New Lebanese President
December 21st, 2007 by Celest
Joshua Landis collected several articles that look at Syrian, French and US involvement (or lack there of) in solving the political crisis in Lebanon.  It includes an article stating, “Lebanon’s highest Shiite cleric called Thursday for the election of a president either on a consensus base, or directly by the people.”
Posted in Elections, Lebanon, Syria, US foreign policy | Comment »
Seize the Moment
December 21st, 2007 by Celest
Frederick W. Kagan, writing in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only), argues that the US needs to show more support for democracy in the Middle East. “In the past, supporting our friends … has meant helping more or less authoritarian governments retain power in exchange for their help in stabilizing the region.” However, now is “an epochal moment: The U.S. has a chance to … throw itself behind two new constitutional democracies that occupy critical geostrategic positions in the most dangerous part of the world.”
He says that Pres. Bush has taken the right step to work on a bilateral agreement with Iraq and should make a similar agreement with Afghanistan. He wonders if democrats can move beyond Bush bashing to defending our real interests in the Middle East and supporting our friends.
Posted in Afghanistan, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Iraq, US foreign policy | Comment »
Iran’s Worst Enemy
December 21st, 2007 by Celest
An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor says that Iran is facing internal struggles because of public discontent due to economic mismanagement and political repression. Iran is its own worst enemy — “a regime that violates its own people’s human rights and squanders the nation’s oil wealth is faltering on its own just fine.”
Posted in Freedom, Iran | Comment »
Of Islamists and Reformists: The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood
December 20th, 2007 by Sean
The new issue of Democracy Digest has just been published, including three pieces discussing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in light of the movement’s recently released draft platform.
Posted in Egypt, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Muslim Brotherhood, Uncategorized | Comment »
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