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08 Mar 2008 - 29 Aug 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: March, 2008
POMED Notes: Brookings Event on Future of Iraq & Afghanistan
March 31st, 2008 by Amanda
This afternoon, Brookings held a fascinating event in their Brookings 08 series entitled “The Future of Iraq and Afghanistan.” It consisted of two panel discussions - the first featured Ken Pollack of Brookings, Capt. Ann Gildroy, a Marine who just recently returned from Iraq, Brookings Vice-President Carlos Pascual and Jeremy Shapiro, a Brookings expert on civil-military relations. The second panel featured one foreign policy advisor from each of the three leading presidential campaigns - Denis McDonough (Obama), Lee Feinstein (Clinton), and Randy Scheunemann (McCain).
Both panels focused on the current state of affairs in Afghanistan and Iraq and strategies for moving forward in each case. There was a general consensus among all speakers that stability cannot in either case be based on military success alone, but that civic participation is key to the security of Iraq and Afghanistan, and ultimately also to the security of the United States.
For POMED’s notes on the event, click here.
Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, US politics | Comment »
POMED NOTES: Press Freedom and Poverty Reduction
March 31st, 2008 by Kent
On Wednesday, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) hosted a roundtable on the freedom of press and its role in economic growth. Maureen Harrington provided opening remarks for the event and Alicia Phillips Mandaville moderated the discussion. Dr. Joseph Siegle of Development Alternatives, Inc., James Traub of The New York Times Magazine, Mark Whitehouse of the International Research and Exchanges Board, and Richard Winfield of World Press Freedom Committee gave their opinions on the relationship between journalism and development.
For the transcript from the event, click here.
For video footage from the event, click here.
For POMED’s full notes, click here.
Posted in Events, Freedom | Comment »
Libya’s Tepid Democracy
March 31st, 2008 by Kent
A Washington Post editorial questions how far Libya has come towards democracy. While the editorial admits that the government has sought warmer relations with the United States since it renounced its support of terrorism in 2003, the editorial notes that the country’s leader, Moammar Gaddafi, has not done enough to progress human rights and civil liberties in the country. “The United States is once again being tempted with a trade-off: friendly dealings with an Arab autocracy vs. support for Arab democrats.”
Posted in Libya | Comment »
Reacting to Basra
March 31st, 2008 by Kent
Many pundits, journalists, and bloggers spent the weekend watching and reacting to the fighting in the Iraqi city of Basra this past week. The Financial Times and Robert Reid at The Conservative Voice claimed that the Basra conflict represented a struggle for “Shia supremacy.” Michael Clark at Daily Kos, Eric Martin at American Footprints, and Reed Hunt at Talking Points Memo discuss the weaknesses of the Iraqi security forces and the doomed nature of the strike on Basra.
Brian Katulis at the Center for American Progress analyzes the current fighting as another incident in a long trend of intra-Shia combat. “This latest violence highlights that the Bush administration’s surge of combat troops into the country last year has temporarily masked tensions between rival groups competing for power, instead of creating a sustainable security and political solution to Iraq’s conflicts.”
Over at Democracy Arsenal, Adam Blickstein worries that Republican politicians will use the Basra conflict as a justification for maintaining high troops levels. A USA Today editorial echoes
this frustration with the Bush administrations insistence on “staying the course.”
Defending one aspect of U.S. policy towards Iraq, David Rivken and Lee Casey in The Wall Street Journal editorial supports the Bush administration’s right to extradite American prisoners to Iraq for crimes committed in that country. The editorial depicts this act as crucial in establishing a legitimate legal structure and good governance.
Posted in Iraq, US foreign policy | Comment »
This Week’s Events
March 31st, 2008 by Kent
Check out POMED’s Event Calendar to see a list of events in the D.C. area relevant to democratic reform, U.S. foreign policy, and the Middle East.
Monday, March 31
10:00 Wilson Center: Turkey and the Transatlantic Bargain: Time to Renegotiate? Featuring Gulnur Aybet of University of Kent at Canterbury.
13:00 Brookings: Opportunity 08: The Future of Iraq and Afghanistan​. Two panels will discuss future U.S. Foreign Policy towards these two countries.
Tuesday, April 1
12:00 AIC: Stopping Women Trafficking in the Muslim World. Featuring Mohammad Mattar of Johns Hopkins University’s Protection Project, Sanam Anderlini, and Wenchi Yu Perkins of Vital Voices Global Parternship.
14:30 Hearing: The Situation in Iraq. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hear testimony from Stephen Kaplan and Alan Pino of the National Intelligence Council.
17:00 Georgetown: Who are the Chosen? The Unspoken in Arab-Israeli Conflict. Featuring Avi Beker of the World Jewish Congress.
Wednesday, April 2
09:00 CDACS Symposium: Assessing the State of Democracy in America: Is This the Best We Can Be? Featuring Thomas Melia of Freedom House.
09:30 Hearing: Iraq After the Surge - Military Prospects. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hear testimony from Barry McCaffrey of the United States Military Academy, William Odom of National Security Council, Michele Fournay of the Center for New American Security and Robert Scales of Colgen, LP.
12:00 CAP: A View from the Ground in Iraq. Featuring Michael Ware of CNN and Nir Rosen of NYU.
14:00 Hearing: Strategic Chaos and Taliban Resurgence in Afghanistan. The Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hear testimony from David Barno of National Defense University, Seth Jones of The RAND Corporation, and Mark Schneider of International Crisis Group.
14:30 Hearing: Iraq After the Surge - Political Prospects. Featuring Yahia Said of Revenue Watch Insitute, Nir Rosen of NYU, Stephen Biddle of Council on Foreign Relations, and Fouad Ajami of The Johns Hopkins University.
16:30 Elliott School: The Elections in Iran. Featuring Afhsin Molavi of New America Foundation and Ray Takeyh of Council on Foreign Relations.
Thursday, April 3
09:00 MEI: The Situation on the Ground in Iraq. Michael Ware of CNN will speak.
09:30 Hearing: Iraq 2012 -What Does it Look Like and How Do We Get There? The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will hear testimony from Carole O’Leary of American University, Dawn Brancati of Harvard University, Carlos Pascual of The Brookings Institution, Gregory Gausse of the University of Vermont, and Terrence Kelly of RAND Corporation.
12:30 IMES: Kuwait’s Government in Crisis - Implications for Democracy. Former U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Edward W. Gnehm will speak.
14:00 MEI: The Situation in Iran. Featuring political dissident Ebrahim Yazdi.
18:30 WAC: Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East. Featuring Robin Wright, author of the book by the same name.
Friday, April 4
09:30 Wilson Center: Women’s Leadership and the Challenges of Social Reform in Morocco. Nouzha Skalli, Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity of Morocco, will speak.
Posted in Events | Comment »
2008: An Alternative McCain Analysis
March 31st, 2008 by Matt
In a piece published in The Weekly Standard today, Joseph Loconte​disputes what quickly became the widely accepted analysis of John McCain’s recent foreign policy speech–that McCain was trying to distance himself from the Bush administration by burnishing his multilateralist credentials.  Loconte concludes the opposite–that McCain’s speech actually shows a politician hoping to “shake up” ponderous and often ineffective international organizations.   To Loconte, McCain’s rhetoric on war also displayed a “prudence” that will nicely complement his “tenacity”, forming a balanced blend of idealism and realism that all the remaining candidates are seeking to claim.
Steve Clemons thinks Loconte is misreading McCain’s war rhetoric, concluding that McCain would be one of many in a long line of presidents far too willing to go abroad to, as John Quincy Adams said, “seek monsters to destroy.”
Posted in Election 08, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
Musharraf Swears in His Opposition
March 31st, 2008 by Amanda
As Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf swears in Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s cabinet today, The New York Times​reports that “there is strong speculation the new government will force U.S. ally Musharraf…to quiet within weeks or months.” The new cabinet, who consider Musharraf an “unconstitutional president,” includes members of Bhutto’s PPP and Sharif’s PML-N parties.
Posted in Pakistan | Comment »
Qadaffi Given a Pass on Democracy?
March 31st, 2008 by Amanda
An editorial in The Washington Post comments that Libyan President Moammar Qadaffi receives “full diplomatic relations with the United States” despite maintaining an oppressive regime. He speaks today via video teleconference at the Ritz Carlton in Washington where the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch is the keynote speaker.
The reason?
The author cites that “the turning point came in 2003, when Mr. Qaddafi renounced terrorism,” providing the United States its seemingly incessant foreign policy dilemma: “friendly dealings with an Arab autocracy vs. support for Arab democrats”?
Posted in Human Rights, Libya, US foreign policy | Comment »
Oppression for Oil?
March 31st, 2008 by Amanda
In a Daily Star op-ed, Tamer Mallat sees the protection U.S. of oil interests as a ” leading factor in the conflicts of the contemporary Middle East,” adding that by maintaining alliances with most of the region’s major oil producers” the United States has maintained a “shortsighted” foreign policy.
He urges policymakers to widen their scope in region by creating a consistent message and agenda.
By focusing so intently on guarding reserves in oil-rich countries, the U.S. is “in the process buttressing their autocratic regimes. ” Instead Mallat believes that “the U.S. must make defense of democracy and human rights a real policy priority.”
Posted in Oil, US foreign policy | Comment »
Double Standards on Democracy
March 31st, 2008 by Amanda
William Fisher at the Huffington Post cites this year’s six month prison sentence of an Egyptian journalist as “yet another example of the embarrassing double standards built into US foreign policy,” where “counter-terrorism trumps democracy promotion.”
He charges the Bush Administration of neglecting “contempt for press freedom” while continuing to supply the Egyptian military with “$2 billion a year.”
He continues that “the US position on promoting democracy while turning a blind eye to blatant and widespread human rights abuses in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere has made America vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy and has doubtless contributed to the precipitous fall in the world’s respect for the US.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Foreign Aid, Human Rights, US foreign policy | Comment »
A Test on Tribunals
March 31st, 2008 by Amanda
At The Daily Star, Rami G. Khouri writes that the upcoming tribunal over the the assassination of former Lebanese President Rafiq Hariri “will be a historic moment in the modern Arab world” as suspects will be tried “in a court of law convened through a process at the UN Security Council enjoying international legitimacy.”
He affirms that this standard ought to be applied throughout the region, including “the trials of the former Baathist leaders in Iraq” and all other political assassinations in the Middle East.
Posted in Iraq, Judiciary, Lebanon | Comment »
Leary… uh, of Syria
March 31st, 2008 by Amanda
Robert F. Worth of The New York Times covered the Arab Summit in Damascus​, highlighting that “just 11 of the Arab League’s heads of state were in attendance” out of 22. The article also points out that “American officials have been hinting broadly” to their Middle East allies “that they would prefer that Arab leaders not attend.”
Although Arab Summits are typically confrontational, Worth notes that “the ferocity of this year’s divisions is unusual.” Major Middle East players such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia that boycotted the summit are angry with Syria, accusing the country of “refusing to abide by Arab League decisions on Lebanon.”
The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied interference in Lebanon. The Daily Star reports that the summit adjourned Sunday, failing to achieve any “breakthrough on Lebanon.”
The International Herald Tribune​reported that Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said his country’s leadership simply “decided earlier this week to boycott this weekend’s Arab summit in the Syrian capital of Damascus because Beirut is usually represented by its president,” which Lebanon has been without since November of last year.
Posted in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria | Comment »
Georgetown CDACS Symposium on Thursday
March 31st, 2008 by Stephen
Our friends at Georgetown’s Center for Democracy and Civil Society (CDACS) are putting on an interesting event on Thursday - Tom Melia, Deputy Director of Freedom House, will give the keynote address at a full morning symposium of academics, American political reformers, and democracy promotion practitioners on “Assessing the State of Democracy in America: Is This the Best We Can Be?”
Click here for full details on the event.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Events, Freedom, Human Rights | Comment »
Thoughts on Hezbollah
March 28th, 2008 by Kent
Over at “Across the Bay,” Tony Badran summarizes various opinions and perspectives on Hezbollah as an Islamist-nationalist group. He scoffs at Hezbollah’s attempts to legitimize itself as a political player.
Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon | Comment »
Hope for Political Success in Iraq
March 28th, 2008 by Kent
Jason Gluck champions Iraq’s political triumphs and laments that the media ignores them in Foreign Policy. “…in a nation with scant experience with liberal democratic governance, Iraq’s newfound reliance on the Constitution and independent judicial institutions should provide some hope that a new political culture is beginning to take root.”
Posted in Iraq | Comment »
What Will Come from the Arab League Summit
March 28th, 2008 by Kent
Mohamad Abdel Salam hopes that the Arab League summit does not try to solve more problems than its capable of resolving in his Daily Star op-ed. He believes that Syria has “dumped” all of its problems on this summit and that the Arab League cannot appropriately resolve all of these issues. “Thus the hope is that the Damascus summit becomes just another summit and not an end to all summits.”
At the summit, Syria presses Saudi Arabia to do more to help resolve the presidential crisis in Lebanon. Syrian officials have lamented that their efforts without the support of other allies will not end the stalemate.  Saudi Arabia has disapproved of Syria’s policy towards Lebanon, as Sarah Moller explains in her Middle East Times op-ed. The kingdom’s disapproval was one of the leading reasons for its boycott of the summit.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch urges leaders to pressure Syria to release political dissidents from prison.
Posted in Human Rights, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria | Comment »
Concerns over Turkish Head Scarves
March 28th, 2008 by Kent
In The Los Angeles Times, Robert Ellis responds to Egemen Bagisearlier piece in the LA Times which defended the repeal of the Turkish head scarf ban. Ellis believes that Turkey is shifting away from the West under its Islamic leadership and criticizes the ruling Justice and Development Party for its policies on education and foreign affairs. He finds the country’s budding friendship with Saudi Arabia especially troubling.
Posted in Islam and Democracy, Turkey | Comment »
Pakistan’s Fight Against Terror
March 28th, 2008 by Kent
A New York Times editorial fears for the new Pakistani parliament’s attitude towards the United States, as it reacts to the close relationship between President Pervez Musharraf and President Bush. The Times worries that Pakistan will reconsider its role in fighting terrorism and the utility of the United States’ friendship. The editorial hopes that the U.S. government will reach out to Pakistan and remind the ally that defeating terrorism is a mutual interest.
Similarly concerned, Michael Cohen reacts to a Washington Post report on increased U.S. military activity in Pakistan. He wonders what the effect will be on the current US. administration and the next.
Posted in Pakistan, US foreign policy | Comment »
2008: McCain Speech Reaction
March 28th, 2008 by Matt
Politico’s Jonathan Martin says McCain’s speech was an effort to “subtly but unmistakably” distance himself from President Bush’s foreign policy.
MSNBC’s First Read collects some coverage from a few major news outlets.
James Joyner at Outside the Beltway examines the motives behind McCain’s “League of Democracies”.
Abu Muqawama looks for a little more detail from McCain, then uses the opportunity to do a nice, general election-style compare/contrast of the Obama and McCain plans for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ilan Goldenberg does some fact-checking of McCain’s speech for Democracy Arsenal.
Posted in Election 08, US politics, Uncategorized | Comment »
2008: McCain’s Foreign Policy Address
March 27th, 2008 by Matt
Delivered in Los Angeles yesterday, John McCain’s speech contained several passages worth a look from those interested in how (or if) we should promote democracy abroad.  In some spots, the language McCain used was reminiscent of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address: “I believe it is possible in our time to make the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of free people and free markets, advance even farther than they have.” McCain argues that his “League of Democracies” would help advance these values through a global alliance of democratic nations. Elsewhere, he suggests ideas that haven’t exactly been paramount in the Bush administration’s foreign policy strategy, such as “institutionalizing our cooperation” with Europe on foreign assistance and democracy promotion.
In order to win the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims in the fight against radicalism, McCain prescribes “scholarships” instead of “smart bombs”. The speech justifies continued commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan by saying that whether they become stable democracies will “determine not only the fate of that critical part of the world, but our fate, as well.”
Perhaps most interestingly, McCain decries our reliance on “out-dated autocracies” in the Middle East, saying “they no longer provide lasting stability, only the illusion of it.”  While he tempers his words by counseling against “rash” actions on our part, he concludes that the status quo is neither sustainable nor in our interests.  This is quite possibly the least-veiled criticism of regimes like those in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan that we’ve heard thus far in the campaign.  But that’s not saying much, unfortunately.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Election 08, US politics | Comment »
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