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3 Oct 2008 - 23 Aug 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: October, 2008
Women of the Brotherhood
October 31st, 2008 by Jason
In a recent Carnegie Endowment paper, Omayma Abdel-Latif​investigates the role and status of women in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. She concludes that the Brotherhood leadership continues to subordinate its women members despite their recent assertiveness following the release of the 2007 draft party platform. However, she sees signs of a generational shift within the movement, and a greater receptiveness to inclusion among the group’s younger members. You can read the full paper here.
Posted in Muslim Brotherhood, Women | Comment »
Political Reform At Home and Abroad
October 31st, 2008 by Jason
On the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog, Daniel Brumberg​writes about the “cathartic awakening” that free and fair elections can bring to a public made apathetic by years of autocratic rule. He notes that even the United States is prone to political apathy, and he stresses that the U.S. must put its own house in order if it is to credibly promote democratic reform abroad. Brumberg sees hopeful signs of revival in our political system during this election cycle. He concludes:
“Regardless of who wins on November 4, much will have to be done in the ensuing year to demonstrate to ourselves and to the world that America truly is a reemerging democracy that can legitimately promote the creed of freedom abroad.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Elections, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
Dueling Political Conventions in Egypt
October 31st, 2008 by Jason
On November 1-3, Egypt’s ruling NDP will hold its fifth annual convention, in which it is ostensibly supposed to review the past year and suggest policy prescriptions going forward.  In the Daily News Egypt, Khalil Al-Anani​previews the conference​. He predicts no new policy breakthroughs, and discusses issues the NDP would address if it were actually serious about redressing the past year’s ills.
Daily News Egypt also reports that the April 6 Youth Movement, a group of young pro-democracy Egyptian bloggers and facebook activists, announced it will hold an online convention to critique and respond to the NDP conference. Movement founding member Mohamed Abdel Aziz said the objective is “waking up the Egyptian people from the manipulation of the NDP members through their imaginary roles and accomplishments.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Political Parties, Technology | Comment »
Press Freedom Under Assault in Morocco
October 31st, 2008 by Jason
An appeals court in Morocco just upheld a $600,000 fine against Moroccan daily Al Massae under the charge of “public slander.” It is the largest defamation suit ever rewarded in Morocco.  As with similar cases against prominent journalists in the past, Al Massae must either stop publishing, or its Director and star columnist, Rachid Niny, will have to leave the country to avoid paying the parallelizing fine.
For more information about this case, and in-depth news, research, and analysis on Morocco, go visit POMED’s new Morocco Country Page. And check out all of POMED’s country pages while you’re there.
Posted in Human Rights, Journalism, Middle Eastern Media, Morocco | Comment »
White House Condemns Syrian Repression
October 31st, 2008 by Jason
Yesterday the White House issued a press statement condemning Syria’s sentencing of 12 democracy activists to two and a half years in prison. The statement calls for the immediate release of the 12 Damascus Declaration members, and concludes, “the Syrian regime cannot expect to be treated as a respected member of the international community when it engages in such systematic repression of its own citizens.”
Joshua Landis at Syria Comment​argues that the U.S. raid in Syria has undermined the very cause the White House now purports to champion: “The US attack allows the Syrian government to cast its persecution of the opposition as necessary in the face of foreign aggression and national crisis.” He notes such contradiction “punctuates the failure of the Freedom Agenda.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Human Rights, Syria, US foreign policy | Comment »
More on Political Prisoners
October 31st, 2008 by Tariq
In the shadow of news on never-ending election coverage, SOFA, and fallout from the Syrian raid, Middle East Online offers two pieces on the status of political prisoners around the Middle East. First, from a press conference in Geneva, Iraqi member of parliament Mohammad Al-Dainy, “called on the United Nations to investigate what he said were over 400 secret detention centres in the country controlled by both the government and US-led forces.” Second​,”[t]he head of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip announced on Thursday the imminent release of political prisoners as a goodwill gesture ahead of Palestinian reconciliation talks in Egypt.”

Posted in Freedom, Human Rights, Iraq, Palestine | Comment »
Who Will Speak for Islam?
October 30th, 2008 by Jason
The World Policy Journal’s 25th anniversary Fall issue is available free for the month of November. It includes an interesting article (pdf) by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed titled “Who Will Speak for Islam?” In it, they use comprehensive survey data from throughout the Muslim world to discern future trends in governance, women’s rights, extremism, political reform, and the relationship with the West.
They find that “data suggests that it is more constructive to think of the current conflict not as a battle with Islam, or even within Islam, but rather a competition for the “road to reform.””
In this competition, they conclude: “Allowed the political space, leaders drawing both on democracy and Islam’s rich tradition will overshadow secular liberals and conservative theocrats as the leaders of tomorrow.”
Posted in Islam and Democracy, Political Islam, Public Opinion, Reform, Terrorism, US foreign policy | Comment »
Assessing the Iranian Democracy Movement
October 30th, 2008 by Jason
The Iranian human rights forum Gozaar has asked scholars and civil society activists to assess the recent efforts and achievements of Iran’s democracy and human rights movement. Experts were also asked to write what methods they suggest going forward, whether they consider working with the regime a viable option, and what the role of actors outside the country should be. The thoughtful and informative responses can be found here.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Human Rights, Iran | Comment »
The Saudis and the U.S. Election
October 30th, 2008 by Jason
At MESH, Bernard Haykel writes about Saudi Arabia’s relative silence about the U.S. presidential election. He says the Saudis probably reflexively favor John McCain for the usual reasons: the Republicans’ perceived stronger ties to the oil and weapons industries, as well as their social conservatism and historical foreign policy pragmatism. And although the Saudis don’t quite know what to make of Barack Obama, they realize that the “pillars of U.S. policy in the Middle East (i.e., oil security and Israel’s security)” won’t change regardless who wins.
He has an interesting aside about the Saudis’ animus toward Joe Biden, who’s been a much more outspoken critic of the regime’s human rights record and the need for reform.
Posted in Elections, Human Rights, Saudi Arabia, US foreign policy | Comment »
Internet Censorship in Turkey
October 30th, 2008 by Jason
The Christian Science Monitor reports on the troubling rise of internet censorship in Turkey. The government has banned over 600 sites this year, including YouTube, in a clear attempt to “censor and silence political speech.” Turkey’s newly-created Telecommunications Directorate has broad power to shut down sites with no court order or public oversight.
The EU, of course, is watching. An EU official said, “It is a very restrictive law and the implementation has been very problematic” and noted that the issue will be taken up in EU’s next Turkey progress report, due in November.
Posted in Human Rights, Turkey | Comment »
The U.S. Strike Win-Win for Assad?
October 30th, 2008 by Jason
At Babylon and Beyond, Borzou Daragahi and Khaled Hijab analyze the prospect that Syria both knew about and approved the U.S. cross-border raid. They cite sources who are skeptical that with Syria’s substantial aerial defense capability, the U.S. military was able to strike with helicopters in broad daylight with no resistance. They note that Syria has been fighting Islamic extremists for decades, and it makes perfect sense for them to allow the U.S. to lend a hand.
“And as for the timing, it’s better for Damascus to let the U.S. finish the job now and blame the Bush administration, whose reputation in the Middle East could hardly get worse, and make a fresh start with the Obama or McCain teams.”
The certainly seem to have the blame-the-Bush-administration part down. Today tens of thousands of Syrians joined a government-orchestrated protest against the strike. Protesters held anti-American banners and waved Syrian flags and pictures of Bashar Assad. 
Posted in Military, Syria, US foreign policy | Comment »
SOFA ‘Doubtful’?
October 30th, 2008 by Jason
In Washington for a meeting with President Bush, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said he was “doubtful” that the Status of Forces agreement would pass. In a perceptive bit of analysis, Barzani said most Iraqi factions favor the agreement, but are suffering from “intellectual terrorism, where people are not able to state their real positions,” due to the need to distance themselves from the U.S. ahead of provincial elections.
At American Footprints, Eric Martin notes that everybody’s Plan B–a short-term extension of the UN mandate–would give the U.S. an “extremely broad range of motion” within Iraq; much greater than is currently being negotiated under the SOFA. He wonders if such an outcome would provoke a public backlash far worse than that feared by the SOFA.
Juan Cole notes that the recent U.S. strike inside Syria “may have stiffened Iraqi resolve” in pushing for a harder withdrawal deadline and demanding more control over U.S. troops.
Posted in Iraq, Military, US foreign policy | Comment »
2008: Palin On Petro-States
October 29th, 2008 by Matt
Sarah Palin delivered an energy policy speech today, hitting on one of POMED’s prime equities in moving toward diminishing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil:
“In the worst cases, some of the world’s most oil-rich nations are also the most oppressive societies. And whether we like it or not, the money we pay for their oil only makes them more powerful and more oppressive. Oil wealth allows undemocratic governments to crush dissent and to subjugate women. Other regimes use it to finance terrorists around the world and criminal syndicates in our own hemisphere.”
Posted in Election 08, Oil, US foreign policy, US politics, Women | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Turkey, the Region, and US-Turkish Relations”
October 29th, 2008 by Jason
Yesterday the Brookings Institution and The Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) hosted a day-long conference assessing Turkey’s domestic, regional, and international challenges, and the future of US-Turkish relations. The conference featured panel discussions by top Turkey scholars, politicians, and analysts, with a keynote address by Ahmet Davutoglu, chief foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Erdogan.
For POMED’s notes on the conference, click here.
Posted in DC Event Notes, Event Notes, POMED, Turkey, US foreign policy | Comment »
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