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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: November, 2008
SOFA Approved!
November 28th, 2008 by Tariq
Richard Tomkins at the Washingon Times reports, “Iraq’s parliament approved a pact that allows U.S. troops to remain in the country for another three years Thursday, but it linked its consent to political reforms and a referendum to reaffirm the accord in July.”
In turn, Adam Ashton at McClatchy wonders what this victory does to al-Maliki’s stature.
Posted in Iraq, Military, US foreign policy | Comment »
Can Hillary be an Honest Broker in the Middle East?
November 28th, 2008 by Tariq
Eli Lake at the New Republic​writes on the prospect of conflict between likely appointees Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones over issues in the Middle East. “While General Jones wants to take steps now to empower Abbas and his Fatah party to take over a Palestinian state, Clinton is asking if even the Palestinian moderates are ready to govern.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Israel, Palestine, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
How to Deter Iran
November 28th, 2008 by Tariq
With more talk of carrots-and-sticks in our dealing with Iran, Louis Rene Beres, Professor at Purdue University; General Thomas McInerney, and Major General Paul E. Vallely write an op-ed in today’s Washington Times. Citing the possibility of a non-rational actor in a new cold war, they say, ‘there will be new perils that may require “anticipatory self defense.’”
Sound familiar?
Posted in Iran, Military, US foreign policy | 2 Comments »
The Real Risks of Engagement
November 26th, 2008 by Sarah
Martin Kramer casts some concern about the new “engagement” craze sweeping foreign policy circles.
“And in the best American tradition, these risks [of engagement] are repackaged as opportunities, under a new name. It could just as easily be called appeasement, but the public associates appeasement with high risk. So let’s rename it engagement, which sounds low-risk​—after all, there’s no harm in talking, right? And once the risk has been minimized, the possible pay-off is then inflated.”
According to Kramer, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran “understand our desire to engage them as a sign of weakness—an attempt to appease them—which is itself an enticement for them to push harder against us and our allies. And since they believe in their narrative of an empowered Islam with the fervency of religious conviction, no amount of insistence by us that we will go only so far and no further will stop them.”
Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute similarly asserts that “if all diplomacy required were Washington’s good intentions, the world would be a magical place. It is ironic that some U.S. diplomats trust the Islamic republic more than many Iranians themselves do.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, US foreign policy | 1 Comment »
Cabinet-Making
November 26th, 2008 by Sarah
President-elect Barack Obama has Defense Secretary Robert Gates in mind to serve again in his post, at least for the first year of his presidency.
According to Politico, the rest of the National Security roster is shaping up as well, with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Jim Steinberg as Department Secretary of State, General Jim Jones as National Security Advisor, and Susan Rice as Ambassador to the United Nations. Some, including Raj Purohit at Across the Aisle, seem to believe that the position of Ambassador to the U.N. will become a cabinet-level position.
Posted in Election 08, US foreign policy | Comment »
The Tolerance of a Tyrant
November 26th, 2008 by Jason
Two weeks ago we blogged about the UN interfaith dialogue meeting in New York, which was spearheaded by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
David Keyes seems to have spent these past two weeks getting progressively angrier and more indignant at the thought of Saudi Arabia successfully posturing as a champion of tolerance and human rights in front of an international audience. In an article yesterday in the National Review, he unleashed his frustration with a stream of well-placed vitriol. Allow me to quote at length.
Noting that “Abdullah should be awarded a medal not because he called for plurality, tolerance, and moderation, but because he did so with a straight face,” Keyes goes on to say that Abdullah’s newfound devotion to human rights and equality “must have been news to the enslaved citizens of his own country.”
He says in a sane world, “Abdullah would be roundly castigated and one leader after another would denounce his regime.” What enables Saudi Arabia’s profound hypocrisy is the West’s “willful delusion and profound moral ineptitude.”
“That America sends billions of dollars of arms to an unelected government that crushes basic freedoms is as immoral as it is counter-productive.”
Posted in Human Rights, Saudi Arabia, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “U.S. Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century”
November 25th, 2008 by Jason
This morning, the Brookings Institution hosted Kristin Lord, Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at Brookings, to present her new report, Voices of America, on reforming U.S. public diplomacy and strategic communication. Lord was joined by Thomas Miller, Strobe Talbott, Charles Vest, and Martin Indyk. The event was moderated by Carlos Pascual, Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy at Brookings.
Kristin Lord called for the creation of a new non-profit organization called the USA▪World Trust to complement the U.S. government’s public diplomacy efforts. Strobe Talbott said today there is a large onus on world governments to build and recruit constituencies for diplomatic agreements. Charles Vest discussed how the U.S. can leverage the worldwide admiration for American higher education, science, and technology. Thomas Miller discussed how proven business and marketing tools could translate to public diplomacy.
For POMED’s notes on the event, click here.
Posted in DC Event Notes, Diplomacy, Event Notes, POMED, Public Opinion, Technology, US foreign policy | Comment »
On Kurdistan
November 25th, 2008 by Tariq
Anna Fifield at The Financial Times has an interesting piece on Kurdistan, highlighting a problem that looms on the horizon, “The Kurdistan regional government is pushing for a vote to allow Kirkuk residents to decide whether they become part of the northern region. But the disputed territory has become so sensitive that Kirkuk will be excluded from nationwide provincial polls due to be held before January 31 as an Iraqi parliamentary commission examines the demographic changes that have taken place there. It is due to report back by March.”
Complicating matters further, Ernesto Londono of the Washington Post writes that “Kurdish officials this fall took delivery of three planeloads of small arms and ammunition imported from Bulgaria, three U.S. military officials said, an acquisition that occurred outside the weapons procurement procedures of Iraq’s central government.” Judah Grunstein of World Politics Review also weighs in on this, saying, “It’s still possible that the country might degress into a Sunni-Shiite-Kurd free for all once we’re gone…Given the argument about how strategically significant Iraqi stability is to U.S. interests, do we go back in in the event of a civil war breaking out following our departure?”
Posted in Iraq, Kurds | Comment »
Weapons Deal Between Iran & Lebanon?
November 25th, 2008 by Tariq
Raed Rafei at Babylon & Beyond​reports​, “Talk of weapons was in the air today as Lebanon’s Michel Suleiman began an official visit to Iran, where he met his counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
But Michael Bluhm writes, “Rumors of an Iranian proposal to visiting Lebanese President Michel Sleiman to help arm Lebanon’s military amount to little more than political maneuvering, as a number of factors would likely keep the Lebanese government from approving defense assistance, several analysts told the Daily Star on Monday.”
Posted in Iran, Lebanon, Military | Comment »
Prospects for Arab-Israeli Peace
November 25th, 2008 by Tariq
Last week Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote an op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post on the prospect of Arab-Israeli peace as a priority for the new administration.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Zalman Shoval, responds in the Washington Times, “Establishing peace, or at least some sort of modus vivendi between Israel and the Palestinians, should indeed be an important aim - for itself and for the peoples involved - but not as an implement, paid for by Israel, in order to try to advance other agendas, important as they may be.”
While M.J. Rosenberg of TPMCafe says, “I can hardly think of anyone I’d rather have our new President talking to about foreign policy than Brent Scowcroft…Take everything you hate about the neocons and think “exact opposite” and you have Scowcroft. He was against the Iraq war. Opposes confrontation with Iran. And wants to use every resource at our command to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and implement the two-state solution NOW.”
Rosenberg also shares some hopeful thoughts from an Israeli journalist, Lilly Rivlin, on the potential dynamic between Tzipi Livni and Hillary Clinton, “She then said that she believed that with Clinton as Secretary of State and Tzipi Livni (let’s hope) as Israeli Prime Minister, a terrific dynamic could be created. And she said it was one that women are better at creating than men.”
Posted in Israel, Mideast Peace Plan, Palestine, US foreign policy | Comment »
News from Iraqi Parliament
November 25th, 2008 by Tariq
We’ve been covering the day-to-day on SOFA for awhile now, but here’s a fresh perspective: from inside the parliament​. NYT  blogger Suadad al-Salhy writes, “It seems like 70% of the Iraqi MP’s have no idea what is in the agreement. This is clear from the complaints and criticisms that I hear when I am listening to their questions in the press room of the parliament building, and on the television coverage when I get home.”
In other news, Saif Rasheed and Tina Susman at Babylon and Beyond report that Iraqi MP Mithal Alusi has been victorious in his battle against the “legislature’s attempt to punish him for visiting the Jewish state [of Israel].”
Posted in Iraq, Legislation, Military, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: Middle East Institute’s 62nd Annual Conference
November 24th, 2008 by Tariq
On Friday November 21st, the Middle East Institute held its 62nd annual conference entitled, “US Middle East Policy: Pathways to Renewal.” Speakers included Aitzaz Ahsan, Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and President of of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan; Steve Coll, President of the New America Foundation; Shuja Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within; Nabil Ali Alyousuf, Dubai School of Government; Aamir Rehman, Middle East Institute; Ambassador Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S.; Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone​, United States Institute of Peace; Michele Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Ibrahim Helal, Al-Jazeera English; Max Rodenbeck​, The Economist.
Panel topics ranged from discussions on Afghanistan and Pakistan, economic and political developments in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the future of U.S.-Egypt Relations, and restoring U.S. credibility in the Middle East.
For POMED’s notes on this event, click here.
Posted in Afghanistan, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Event Notes, Foreign Aid, Gulf, Pakistan, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED’s Weekly Wire - November 24
November 24th, 2008 by Cecile
POMED’s Weekly Wire for November 24 is now available.
This week’s edition includes questions surrounding Obama’s approach to democracy promotion, domestic human rights issues, and relations with Arab regimes, as well as discussion of Turkey’s recent offer to mediate talks between the U.S. and Iran.
The full Weekly Wire can be viewed here.
Posted in Weekly Wire | Comment »
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