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8 Apr 2008 - 29 Aug 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: April, 2008
2008: More McCain
April 30th, 2008 by Matt
In the American Prospect, Matt Yglesias pens an essay that tries to put to rest the much ballyhooed idea that John McCain is caught in the middle of an epic neoconservative vs. realist battle for his foreign policy soul–instead arguing that McCain is a full-fledged neoconservative who had outlined and attempted to fulfill the Bush doctrine “several years before Bush ever articulated it.”
Reihan Salam tries to rein in Yglesias’ analysis, arguing that especially with regard to Iraq, McCain is merely responding to conditions on the ground, and is not guided so much by ideology.
Fareed Zakaria believes McCain’s foreign policy is “schizophrenic”, and that he’ll be unable to unite the two strands of foreign policy philosophy currently dividing the GOP.
Posted in Election 08, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
POMED Event on FY09 Appropriations and Budget
April 29th, 2008 by Stephen
This morning, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) hosted a panel discussion on Capitol Hill entitled “Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations and Democracy, Governance and Human Rights in the Middle East.” The panel examined President Bush’s fiscal year 2009 budget request and consequences for democracy and governance programs across the Middle East. The speakers discussed the budget request’s U.S. efforts to support democracy in the region, the changes in the international affairs budget request as compared to past fiscal years; and what the request says about the legacy of President Bush’s “freedom agenda.”  Ambassador Edward Gabriel, President and CEO of The Gabriel Company, LLC, Stephen McInerney, Director of Advocacy for POMED, and Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House, spoke to these issues. POMED’s Executive Director, Andrew Albertson, moderated the event.
For detailed notes on the event, please click here.
Posted in Congress, Democracy Promotion, Foreign Aid | Comment »
Ahmadinejad visits Islamabad
April 29th, 2008 by Sharlina
An editorial in the Daily Times (Pakistan) argues that “Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Islamabad will highlight areas in which the two countries can move forward. An increase in the electricity supply from Iran through Balochistan and Sindh is very much on the cards. The IPI could also take off after years of adjustment in the three countries’ differing views of one another.”
Posted in Iran, Pakistan | Comment »
Karzai’s Escape
April 29th, 2008 by Sharlina
An editorial in The Boston Globe describes the recent assassination attempt at Afghani President Hamid Karzai as “the attack on Afghan and foreign dignitaries commemorating the fall of the last Soviet-backed puppet regime in Afghanistan may be read as a sign of the Taliban’s frustration with a war it can prolong indefinitely but cannot win.”
While an editorial in Dawn (Pakistan) argues that such militancy is present in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and can “only through sustained cooperation can it even begin to be tackled,” an editorial in The News (Pakistan) argues that this attack demonstrates that Karzai and the US are wrong in saying militancy is rooted in Pakistan, and rather it is now obvious that “the militant problem” is rooted in Afghanistan.
The Economist notes that while the symbolic event of Afghani forces taking over security around Kabul in August gives hope, there is still need for caution, considering the rise of Taliban violence and the changing nature of the violence.
Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism | Comment »
2008: League of Democracies Being Shelved by McCain?
April 28th, 2008 by Matt
About a year ago today, John McCain first aired the idea of a “League of Democracies” saying that it “would form the core of an international order of peace based on freedom.” McCain also said it would “act where the UN fails to act” while taking care to assure people that it would “complement” not “supplant” the UN and other international organizations. As Sameer Lalwani points out, this is an idea that has been floated in various forms well before the McCain candidacy. Sameer also gives us video of Charles Krauthammer arguing on Fox News that this is a brilliant idea because of its hidden agenda–killing the UN.
Despite McCain’s early enthusiasm for the idea, in Saturday’s LA Times Paul Richter chronicles the downward trajectory of this idea in McCain’s foreign policy rhetoric over the past few months.
Posted in Concert of Democracies​, Election 08, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
Successful POMED Conference in Morocco Completed Over the Weekend
April 28th, 2008 by Stephen
On Friday and Saturday, POMED held a conference in Rabat, Morocco entitled, “Find Your Voice: A Cross-Cultural Forum on Political Participation and Civic Activism.” The conference brought together 25 American and 25 Moroccan students and young professionals to explore pathways to youth empowerment through political participation, civil society activism, media and blogging. The conference was organized by Americans for Informed Democracy (AID), the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), and the Institut National de la Jeunesse et la Démocratie (INJD), an initiative under the Moroccan Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The conference was a tremendous success, and it kicked off the 2008 “Young Global Leaders Forum: Democratic Development in the Middle East and North Africa” series of conferences. The next conference will be this coming weekend in Cairo, followed by a third conference May 29-31 in Amman, Jordan.
A preliminary report on the Morocco conference is now available here.
Check back in the days and weeks ahead for more detailed reports from the conference including the policy recommendations formulated and approved democratically by the American and Moroccan conference participants.
Posted in Morocco, POMED | Comment »
POMED’s Weekly Wire - April 28
April 28th, 2008 by Sarah
POMED’s Weekly Wire for April 28th is now available.
This week’s edition includes the introduction of many Congressional bills intended to shift financial responsbility for the reconstruction of Iraq onto the Iraqi government, a visit by Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah to Washington, and run-off elections for Iran’s Parliament.
The full Weekly Wire can be viewed as a pdf here.
Posted in Weekly Wire | Comment »
Syria Stirs the Pot
April 28th, 2008 by Amanda
The Rand Corporation​’s Cheryl Benard and Edward O’Connell​claim that “Syria is changing and the United States should take notice.” The pair aren’t all positive on the liberalizing country, recognizing that “In constant visual reinforcement of autocracy, the male members of the ruling Assad family still have their faces splashed all across the city in the form of decals on the rear windows of cars, and near-ubiquitous posters, banners and murals.”
In light of the government’s oppression of civil society, they call for increased diplomacy by the United States, declaring that “we have to make it clear to Syria that there is more to be gained by aligning with the West than aligning with nations like Iran.”
At The Middle East Strategy at Harvard, John Alterman agrees, saying that “if we put aside the question of healing the rift in U.S.-Syrian relations and just think about how best to manage an often antagonistic regime, it seems to me that our policy of growing isolation over decades isn’t serving our interests.” He responds to statements made by Peter W. Rodman at the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 24, when he attested that “Syrian policies have made it harder to visualize any kind of rapprochement.”
Last week the Senate and House Intelligence Committees received testimony from senior intelligence officials who have “long believed” that the Syrian nuclear reactor attacked by Israel was in fact “constructed with the assistance of North Korea.” This new revelation has caused some disruption in Washington as “U.S. intelligence has come under greater scrutiny at home and abroad with many questioning the reliability and accuracy of the information America gathers on its adversaries since the lead-up to the 2003 the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Syria, US foreign policy | Comment »
Pakistan- Borders, Terrorism and Democracy
April 28th, 2008 by Amanda
Anne-Marie Slaughter extolls the newly elected government’s release last month of of the 60 supreme court judges, declaring it a “this was a triumph for the rule of law in Pakistan.” While admitting improvements, she points out that their next actions will “reveal whether Pakistan’s new government has the courage and integrity not only to release the fired judges, but to restore them to the bench and perhaps to face their scrutiny down the road.”
Last November, Musharraf arrested “all judges who refused to recognize his declaration of a state of emergency, purportedly aimed at protecting the nation from terrorists.”
An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor discusses the policy change of Pakistan’s new leaders response to terrorism, by “use[ing] a truce to regain authority in the border area” in attempts “to win over radical groups.” Security in the border region between Afghanistan is critical for security and political freedom in the region, as “any sort of jihadism in Pakistan will eventually strike at the country’s democracy.”
The New York Times elaborates in an editorial that while the new government establishes its own agenda of compromise with radicals, “The Bush administration doesn’t like the deal, but its own policy failure is undeniable.” The editorial praises the progress in Pakistan, expressing that “the new democratic government so far has exceeded expectations” and now “deserves Washington’s support and some time to find its way.”
While Pakistani leaders seek to quell radicalism through conciliation, Juan Carlos Zarate, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism under President Bush, affirms a popular backlash in the Arab World against Al-Quaeda tactics in The Washington Post. He declares that “the administration and its overseas allies press efforts to show that Osama bin Laden’s network is killing Muslim civilians rather than defending its interests.”
Zarate claims that former jihadists are now working to “discredit violent extremism.”
Posted in Human Rights, Pakistan, US foreign policy | Comment »
Blogging Blues in Saudi Arabia
April 28th, 2008 by Amanda
The Washington Post reports that Fouad al-Farhan, popular activist blogger of Saudi Arabia, was released after a four month arrest without charges. Despite warnings “Farhan had used his blog to criticize corruption and call for political reform in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy.”
The article states that “Saudia Arabia restricts press and speech freedoms and does not allow political parties, civil rights groups or public gatherings.” Farhan and his group were accused of supporting terrorism, while his lawyer asserts “they were arrested for their political activism and their intention to form a civil rights group.”
Posted in Saudi Arabia | Comment »
Iraq, Iran, and the Region– Any Progress Toward Reconcilation?
April 25th, 2008 by Amanda
As the largest Sunni group agrees to work with President Nuri Kamal Al-Maliki after a year-long boycott, Kevin Drum at The​Washington Monthly opines that “this seems to be yet another step in the campaign to isolate the Sadrists — now the only significant group completely outside the government.”
He questions the outcome of this apparently positive development, positing, “Is that good news on the stability front, or does it mean that full-scale war with Sadr and his troops is becoming ever more imminent? As The New York Times​reports​, “exactly which ministries will be given to which Sunni politicians is still under negotiation.”
March Lynch at Abu Aardvark chimes in on the unsuccessful US pressure toward obdurate Arab States to send ambassadors to Iraq. He attributes the reluctance of Iraq’s neighbors to ” their continuing perception of Maliki as a pro-Iranian, sectarian leader and Iraqi state institutions as deeply penetrated by Iranian influence - as well as their lack of interest in doing the US any favors right now.”
Despite his criticisms, he did cite some positive results, offering that “there were some points of agreement across the Gulf, Iraq and Iran upon which effective diplomacy could build.”
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice made a surprise visit to Baghdad this week to “discuss the drafting of the new constitution​, which is scheduled to be voted on by Iraqis in October ahead of the election of a permanent government by year’s end.”
Posted in Arab League, Elections, Iran, Iraq, Political Parties, Sectarianism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
Iran Votes in Parliamentary Elections
April 25th, 2008 by Amanda
Iranians head to the polls today in what is expected to be a solidification of the majority conservative group critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadindejad, who will run for re-election in 2009.
The run-off vote will fill the remaining 81 of the total 300 seats– 209 members were elected in first round elections earlier this year by winning the required 25% of the vote to obtain a seat, among whom 130 belong to the conservative party. They pose a significant challenge to Ahmadinejad if he vies for the Presidency again next year.
CNN reports that “Ahmadinejad has not announced whether he’ll run for a second term.”
Posted in Elections, Iran, Uncategorized | Comment »
American Might or Multilateralism?
April 25th, 2008 by Amanda
Michael Gerson, in an op-ed piece at the Washington Post, suggests methods to better US foreign policy toward nations such as Iran and Afghanistan– to either “improve”or even “bypass” the UN or “create a NATO that actually works.” While he admits that international institutions are now crucial to boosting worldwide US diplomatic efficacy and ameliorating world crises, he charges that “they have seldom been less effective.
Gerson claims that “It is the paradox of American influence: In a crisis, our power is irreplaceable — and we want nothing more than to replace it.”
At The Christian Science Monitor, Helena Cobban draws on what she considers to be “the American way” of dealing with the international community, to “treat[ing] the peoples of other countries as our true equals.” In doing so, she sees improved US diplomatic relations worldwide.
“Today, America’s relationship with the world’s 6 billion non-Americans is more vital to our wellbeing than ever before. Let’s work on making it the most constructive relationship we can.”
Posted in Afghanistan, Diplomacy, Iran, US foreign policy, Uncategorized | Comment »
PKK Strains Turkey-Iraq Relations
April 25th, 2008 by Amanda
Hiwa Osman in the Daily Star​declares that the best solution to moderating the PKK is not an offensive one, citing the recent incursion by Turkish military as a failure. He also notes problems the PKK, the militant Kurdish population in Turkey, poses for their Iraqi brethren politically. “The Kurds appreciate the importance of long-term strategic ties with Turkey,” and believe that “PKK issue is an irritating factor that is hampering progress in relations with their much-needed neighbor.” Osman calls for the dampening of radicalism and for moderate groups to come to the fore.
The Iraqi Kurds also recognize the importance of a relationship with the US. Osman affirms that the Americans wish to maintain positive relations with both the Turks and Iraqis as well, noting that “America does have two allies: a long-standing Turkish one and a nascent Iraqi one.”
Posted in Iraq, Kurds, PKK, Turkey, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: Hearing on U.S.-Syrian Relations
April 25th, 2008 by Sharlina
Yesterday morning, The Honorable Martin S. Indyk, Mr. Ammar Abdul Hammid, and The Honorable Peter W. Rodman reported to the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on developing U.S. policy toward Syria. Subcommittee Chairman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) gave opening remarks.
For POMED’s full notes on the hearing, click here.
Posted in Congressional Hearing Notes (House), Syria, US foreign policy | Comment »
Ousted Iranian Economic Minister Criticizes Regime
April 24th, 2008 by Sharlina
Danesh Jaafari, while stepping down from his post of minister of Iranian economy and finance minister, criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad​’s administration for its inability to deal with a variety of issues, like rising inflation and unemployment.
Posted in Iran | Comment »
Reassessing the Iraqi Political Process
April 24th, 2008 by Sharlina
Mohamad Bazzi writes in The Washington Times of the need to include Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the Iraqi political process, arguing that “the consequences of trying to isolate Sheik al-Sadr and his political movement are profound: He will lash out further at the Iraqi government and U.S. troops, his supporters will completely abandon the ceasefire he imposed last August and violence will spiral out of control once again.”
Posted in Iraq | Comment »
Speaking Out Against Mubarak
April 24th, 2008 by Sharlina
In a discussion of Hosni Mubarak’s harsh sentences towards many members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khalil Al-Anani argues, The regime should have been honest and courageous and should acknowledge that it rejects the group’s political action on the grounds that it is a religious group instead of imprisoning innocent people and torturing their children and families.”
Meanwhile, Belal Diab, a 20-year-old literature student at Cairo University who interrupted Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif as he addressed the student body on campus Monday, demonstrated the continued uprising about the recent crackdown on dissidents, food woes, and the lack of democracy and freedom.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, Muslim Brotherhood | Comment »
Renewing Syrian-Israeli Talks
April 24th, 2008 by Sharlina
In talks with Turkey, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has reportedly offered to withdraw from the Golan Heights, the territory conquered by Israeli forces in the 1967 war, in return for full peace with Damascus.
An editorial in Haaretz urges repeatedly that “nothing contributes to Israel’s security more than a peace accord.“
Herb Keinon at Jerusalem Post​highlights that “Israel made clear that any peace agreement would necessitate Syria ending its support for Hamas and throwing Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal out of Damascus; ceasing support for Hizbullah; and distancing itself from Iran.”
Posted in Iran, Syria | Comment »
2008: Iran and the U.S. Elections
April 24th, 2008 by Matt
Just prior to Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks promising that the U.S. could “obliterate” Iran in the event of any Iranian attack on Israel, a couple articles had happened to pop up about views within Iran about the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Dispatching from Tehran for Time magazine, Scott MacLeod​documents support for and fascination with the candidacy of Barack Obama among Iranians, along with some surprising support for John McCain and mixed feelings about Hillary Clinton (the obliterate thing probably didn’t help push up the favorable ratings there).
Jeffrey Fleishman tells a similar tale for the LA Times, saying many Iranians are hopeful that any of the candidates might bring more chance for detente than George W. Bush.
The LA Times Middle East blog chronicles some diplomatic repercussions of Sen. Clinton’s remarks.  Needless to say, the Arab press isn’t particularly enthused.
Posted in Election 08, Iran, US politics | Comment »
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