Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: March, 2010
Egypt: Projecting a Post-Mubarak Environment
March 30th, 2010 by Josh
“The prospect of an end to Mubarak’s presidency, coupled with the arrival of a serious challenger like ElBaradei, has produced a political effervescence the likes of which Cairo has not seen in decades,” says David Ottaway
in the Los Angeles Times, sensing that the 2011 presidential election may offer a breakthrough toward real democracy. But if, as National Democratic Party insiders suggest, Mohammad ElBaradei’s political emergence has the effect of motivating Mubarak to run once more in 2011, Ottaway concedes that the immediate prognosis for a new democratic era remains dim.
Nadia Abou el Magd
of the National takes on the issue of presidential succession as well, relaying the analysis of a prominent political scientist in Cairo who insists that Gamal Mubarak — presumed heir to power — lacks widespread institutional support since many key actors disapprove of the “inheritance of power scenario.” Unlike others, however, he doesn’t expect President Mubarak to run for reelection, leaving the door open for ElBaradei or, more plausibly, a well-connected military leader.
Reframing the issue, Osama Diab hypothesizes that Egypt’s post-Mubarak political orientation may largely depend upon the secularists’ ability to provide a viable and inclusive counternarrative, one which weakens the government’s common strawman that the only alternative to Mubarak is an Islamist state. “Egyptian secularists also need to remind people that Egyptians were never as united as they were when they fought occupation and a monarchy under the slogan ‘Religion is for God, and the nation is for everyone,’” says Diab.
Turkey: Reform Package Sent To Parliament
March 30th, 2010 by Josh
In a move that may further exacerbate tensions between the ruling AK Party and the Turkish military, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government submitted a package of constitutional amendments to parliament that would change the method of judicial appointments and, perhaps more significantly, allow military officials to be tried in civilian courts. Despite government assurances that the amendments are a politically innocuous attempt to formulate a new basic law that falls in line with European Union recommendations, some fear that many of the package’s provisions — such as expanding influential judicial bodies and increasing the appointment power of the president and parliament — would change the political balance within Turkey. Devlet Bahçeli
, leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party, chastised the government for dragging “Turkey into a new conflict with this fait-accompli attempt,” one which he claims serves the special needs of the AK Party but not the country as a whole.
Nonetheless, Michael Allen of Democracy Digest puts this recent political turmoil in perspective and insists that Turkey is still “well-placed to assist efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East.” He points to a July 2009 survey that found that 64 percent of respondents in seven Arab countries believe “Turkey’s EU membership prospects makes Turkey an attractive partner for reform in the Arab world.”
Sudan: Amidst Election Concerns, Bashir Issues New Threat
March 30th, 2010 by Josh
After threatening to kick out international monitors last week, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir warned the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) that he would refuse to allow the January 2011 referendum on southern autonomy if the former rebel group does not take part in the upcoming April elections. The SPLM has publicly expressed concern that the elections will not be free and fair, and other opposition groups have already declared their intention to boycott the vote. But Bashir insisted that “We will not accept a delay to the elections not even for one day,” adding that although there are differences, the elections much happen on time. Meanwhile, the offshoot Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) accused the semi-autonomous South Sudan government, dominated by the mainstream SPLM, of beating seven opposition members. The SPLM-DC is the only party to field a challenger in next month’s regional presidential election. Reflecting on her recent trip to Sudan, Refugee International’s Jennifer Smith
is disheartened at the lack of diligent international preparation in advance of the forthcoming electoral contest as well as next year’s referendum. She calls upon the “international humanitarian community to engage in a robust contingency planning process involving UN agencies, NGOs, donors and the UN peacekeeping mission UNMIS, in case conflict erupts again on a large scale.” But war is not inevitable, she says, and “the international community must still do all it can to help facilitate agreement between the north and south on key outstanding issues related to the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.”
Egypt: More Concern Over Proposed NGO Law
March 29th, 2010 by Josh
Last week brought news that the Egyptian government is circulating a new draft NGO law, one which would severely restrict available space for civil society and criminalize the activities of unregistered civic organizations. A coalition of 41 NGOs, headlined by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, has already denounced
the legislation as a “fascist” attempt to militarize civil society. And today, Issandr El Amrani
has a post up at Foreign Policy delineating the potential consequences of this law for an Egyptian human rights movement that, despite existing repressive regulations, has managed to become the primary outlet for opposition activism.
Amrani fears that if codified into law, the NGO legislation “could decimate independent NGOs and marshall registered ones under the same restrictive state-controlled bureaucracy that political parties and trade unions have suffered.” It may also impact political coalitions such as Mohammad ElBaradei’s emerging National Association for Change, providing regime officials with new legal avenues to further disrupt the already fractured reformist community.
But these draconian provisions have international implications as well; Amrani explains that the U.S. recently reverted to pre-2004 foreign aid procedures that limit U.S. financial support to only those organizations approved by the Egyptian government. Although these constraints have not yet affected the Middle East Partnership Initiative — an important source of U.S. funding for civil society programs — Amrani relays concerns that a new NGO law could effectively disqualify many important civic actors from future foreign aid, which would be particularly damaging in light of the growing perception among reformists that “Washington is sending the messageto [sic] the Egyptian government that its NGO regulations are acceptable.” Referencing POMED’s FY2010 budget analysis to demonstrate a level of skepticism within Egyptian circles about Obama administration priorities, Amrani urges Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resume “support to unregistered NGOs and [state] her opposition to this bill.”
Iraq: Ayad Allawi’s Coalition Wins Parliamentary Elections
March 26th, 2010 by Chanan
Preliminary results from the nationwide March 7th parliamentary elections show former secular prime minister Ayad Allawi
ahead of current Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki by about two seats, granting the former’s Iraqiya alliance the first chance at forming a government. Allawi’s predominantly Sunni bloc received 91 seats in the 325-member parliament compared to Maliki’s 89 seats.
After the results were released, the Washington Post quotes Maliki as saying that “some of these results are unacceptable and unreasonable.” Ad Melkert, the United Nation’s representative in Iraq, disagreed saying ”it is the UN’s considered opinion that these elections have been credible and we congratulate the people of Iraq for this success.” Regardless, Julien Barnes-Dacey
, an analyst at the Control Risks Group, explains in a Bloomberg article
that “it doesn’t really matter who came first and who came second because it is basically a tie. Everything is up for grabs now.”
Before the results were announced and in response to a statement released by Maliki last week demanding a recount to prevent “a return to violence,” Spencer Ackerman commented that Maliki has the chance to do more for his country’s budding democracy by losing gracefully than by narrowly winning the election. “Nouri al-Maliki will secure his place in history if he becomes the first non-interim Iraqi leader to willingly relinquish power after the results of an election.”
Earlier in the day, 40 people were killed
and more than 60 wounded in two bomb blasts in the Diyala province.
Egypt: The ElBaradei Phenomenon
March 26th, 2010 by Chanan
Despite widely-cited calls
by Mohamed ElBaradei, the former IAEA chief and potential presidential contender, to institute democratic
changes in Egypt, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Steven A. Cook
thinks “the prospects for reform remain dim.” In a new Foreign Affairs piece, entitled “Egypt’s Hero?”, Cook assesses the impact that two new developments - ElBaradei’s popular ascent and Hosni Mubarak’s diminishing health - will have on the future of Egypt’s political system.
Cook believes that - unlike his democracy activist predecessors, Saad Eddin Ibrahim and Ayman Nour - ElBaradei is a “political entrepreneur” capable of “exploiting the gap between regime rhetoric… and empirical reality” without being subject to false government allegations and threats. His international stature affords him a protective shield from any charges lobbed at Ibrahim and Nour. “It has become clear,” he surmises, “that although it continues to try to cut ElBaradei down to size, the regime recognizes the difficulties of completely marginalizing him.”
Nonetheless, Cook cites two ways that ElBaradei’s candidacy can actually help the Mubarak government: 1) The regime can use his candidacy as proof of demonstrable political reform. 2) It can place tremendous strain on the already fractious opposition parties. In the end, he recommends that the U.S. government refrain from any overt interference on the matter given the extant anti-Americanism in Egypt. “If ElBaradei actually has a reasonable chance of fostering political reform in Egypt, then U.S. policymakers would best serve his cause by not acting strongly.”
In similar news, ElBaredei’s wife, Aida el-Kashf
recently sat down with Al-Masry Al-Youm
a wide range of political issues and personal tidbits about the ElBaradei family.
Bahrain: NGOs Concerned About Freedom of Expression
March 26th, 2010 by Josh
Yesterday, forty-six human rights groups, including Freedom House and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressing “grave concern”
about abusive campaigns carried out by Bahraini officials to harass, prosecute, and imprison journalists and political activists. “[Human rights defenders] are…targeted for their human rights advocacy; for providing legal support to victims of government torture or ill-treatment; and for carrying out other human rights work such as organising and participating in peaceful public gatherings,” the groups wrote, adding that journalists and bloggers are particularly vulnerable under provisions of Bahrain’s legal code, which the government uses as a pretext to periodically jail critical writers. To correct this pattern of abuse, the NGOs implored the UN to apply pressure on Bahrain’s government to open up space for all NGOs to operate legally without fear of repercussions and to lift censorship restrictions on both websites and independent journalists and activists.
Egypt: Centralizing Power Through Legislation, Old and New
March 25th, 2010 by Josh
On the same day that Mohammad ElBaradei
called for democratic reforms
in an interview with Al Arabiya — and once again hinted at presidential aspirations — regime officials leaked that they are preparing to extend Egypt’s 29-year-old Emergency Law that grants the government broad powers to arrest and detain citizens on the pretext of security. The renewal will give President Mubarak an additional two years to draw up new anti-terrorism legislation, a promise he campaigned on in 2005 but thus far has yet to deliver.
On the receiving end of the Emergency Law’s powers just a few days ago, the Muslim Brotherhood roundly condemned its extension and called it a “threat to Egyptian political life.” The Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc will soon meet to brainstorm methods of opposition and prepare for the upcoming June elections.
Elsewhere in security-related matters, while debating a new law that would grant the president unilateral authority over a variety of military issues, member of parliament and national security committee chair Mohamed Abdel Fattah Omar
demanded that the Egyptian people “entirely submit” to Mubarak, saying that even if he “chooses dictatorship, we still must obey, since he would act as a benevolent dictator.” Moving beyond the MP’s submissive rhetoric, Issandr El Amraniexplains that parliament has traditionally served as Mubarak’s “fast-track” mechanism, effectively rubber stamping his military initiatives to provide the pretense of democracy without any of its disruptive pluralism. But the Muslim Brotherhood’s resurgence in the 2005 elections threatened the longevity of National Democratic Party’s two-thirds majority, which Amrani believes may have been the driving force behind this new legislation. “[It] is either another iteration of the fast track or an actual amendment to the law to permanently enshrine the president’s fast track privilege over arms deals — one that provides zero transparency… It is as if Mubarak wanted to make he sure he left that legacy to his successor.”
Iraq: Debates Over Election Recount, Political Trajectory
March 25th, 2010 by Josh
One day before Iraq’s election results are scheduled to be released, Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) chief Faraj al-Haydari insisted that a manual recount of ballots is unnecessary. This despite statements from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
, President Jalal Talabani
and others espousing support for such a measure to “preclude any doubt and misunderstanding” in the electoral results. “Anyone has the right to suggest,” Haydari said, “but I think we go and work according to the law. We listen to them. We can discuss with them. We can explain to them but we don’t take orders. This is law. It’s an election.” Last Sunday, with just over 90 percent of the ballots counted, the IHEC announced that Iyad Allawi
’s coalition held an 8,000 vote lead
Anticipating the forthcoming political spectacle, Robert Dreyfuss delineates a number of scenarios, each of which has a quite noticeable Rubik’s Cube effect “in which any twist or turn makes progress in one way but causes more problems on the other side of the cube.” Irregardless of who assumes power, Dreyfuss predicts a resurgence of destabilizing and potentially violent forces.
But Marc Lynch
offers a rejoinder to those who think that Iraq is unraveling, saying that the electoral results “suggest that Iraqi nationalism is becoming a more potent force than sectarianism and that most voters have no trouble accepting a strong central government.” That said, Lynch admits that the structural deficiencies within Iraq’s political system remain unaddressed, perhaps leading to a “moment of truth” if either Allawi wins or Maliki squeezes out an insufficiently decisive victory and cannot build a governing coalition. Ultimately, however, “the electoral experience has only highlighted the essential irrelevance of the United States to unfolding events.”
POMED Notes: “Global Internet Freedom: A Foreign Policy Imperative in a Digital Age”
March 24th, 2010 by Chanan
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) hosted an event to formally launch the U.S. Senate Caucus on Global Internet Freedom, a bi-partisan initiative determined to promote global Internet freedom. The event featured opening remarks from caucus co-chairs Senators Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), as well as other Senate caucus members including Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Robert Casey (D-PA).
John Nagl, CNAS president, introduced the senators by lauding Congress “as a real leader on Internet freedom,” especially for its efforts last summer to pass The Victims of Iranian Censorship (VOICE) Act.
for POMED’s notes in PDF. Otherwise, continue reading below.
Iran: Wielding Connective Technologies in Pursuit of Reform
March 24th, 2010 by Josh
Over at the Huffington Post
, Omid Memarian
explains the value of an apolitical approach to Internet freedom, drawing upon conversations with a number of Iranian acquaintances to present an alternative conceptual framework for policy-makers. “Almost all of them believe that it’s a form of moral support,” he says. “[Internet freedom] should not be seen or used as a means to pursue hidden political purposes, but as promoting human rights as defined by international standards.” To that end, Memarian proposes a series of “policy shifts” — for example, providing Iranians with free satellite Internet and a sufficient level of email security — to mitigate some of the adverse affects of Western-imposed sanctions and enable Iranians to circumvent barriers to online entry.
Delineating a similar set of recommendations, albeit with more prominent political overtones, The Century Foundation’s InsideIRAN.org relays key points of consensus from the first meeting of its year-long task force — a joint venture with the National Security Network to explore “policy steps that will be most effective in helping Iranians to reform their political system without empowering the regime against either its own people or other nations.” Among the policy prescriptions are:
- Sanction companies that assist the Iranian government in Internet filtering, surveillance, and eavesdropping.
- Provide Skype credits.
- Encourage/permit tech companies to support Persian-language online advertising.
- Fund/permit Persian-fluent web developers to partner in building websites for civil society.
- Levy sanctions on foreign and Iranian companies actively involved in helping the Iranian government’s satellite jamming.
- Broadcast digital content via satellite to millions of users in Iran.
Tunisia: Human Rights Activists Silenced by Police
March 24th, 2010 by Chanan
Tunisian authorities reportedly physically restrained and prevented human rights activists and journalists from attending a Human Rights Watch (HRW) news conference, where the international organization was slated to present its findings on Tunisia’s repression of political prisoners. The 42-page report
chronicles the repressive and arbitrary methods used by the Tunisian authorities on former prisoners.
“Any attempt by the Tunisian authorities to disrupt our report release will focus attention on the government’s disrespect for freedom of speech,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director. “The treatment of Human Rights Watch by the Tunisian government is business as usual for Tunisian human rights defenders.”
The government’s actions come at a sensitive time, with the country’s leaders hoping to be granted
”advanced status” by the European Union.
Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Members Arrested as Questions Persist about Mubarak’s Health
March 24th, 2010 by Chanan
Dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested
Tuesday morning in six different Egyptian cities as official sources hinted at a return
to Egypt by President Hosni Mubarak
18 days after gall bladder surgery in Germany. This is the third
such crackdown on MB activists in the last two months.
The incarcerations did not prevent Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly elected chairman, from extending warm wishes and a healthy recovery to Mubarak. It did, however, lead many to speculate that they were directly linked to the upcoming parliamentary elections. “They arrested group members with expertise in campaigning for elections,” surmised Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud
, the group’s lawyer. The Majlis
‘ Gregg Carlstrom
seems to agree, arguing that “as Egypt draws closer to elections — a parliamentary ballot this year, and the presidential vote next year — expect the government to keep increasing its pressure on opposition groups.” As Issandr El Amrani
points out, such pressure is already in full swing with the recent proposal
of a draft NGO law in Parliament that would give more control to the state authorities over the functions of NGOs.
Meanwhile, unyielding questions and doubts about Mubarak’s health continue to persist, with some demanding an official update from the government. “The question has not changed: ‘What happens after Mubarak?’” Ghada Shahbandar
, a human rights and democracy advocate, told
the New York Times
. “We have a president who is in his 80s and has undergone surgery, so of course people are curious.” With no obvious chain of command in place to facilitate the transfer of power , Aladdin Elaasar
issues concern that the vacuum of leadership will be filled by the Muslim Brotherhood and “Egypt will turn into another Iran.”
Sudan: Bashir Threatens to Kick out Monitors
March 24th, 2010 by Josh
As Sudan approaches its first multiparty election since 1986, President Omar al-Bashir warned international election observers to tread lightly after the U.S.-based Carter Center suggested delaying the elections to address the many logistical problems which, if left unfixed, may severely hamper turnout. “We wanted them to see the free and fair elections,” Bashir said, “but if they ask for them to be delayed, we will throw them out.” Opposition presidential candidate Mubarak al-Fadil
interpreted the threat as a sign that Bashir is nervous, perhaps indicative of the growing prospects for war should the referendum process not go smoothly.
In order to avoid such a violent disruption of the still-nascent peace process, Dorn Townsend
urges NGO workers to step aside and empower
local councils and other groups as leading voices to provide a sense of societal balance and peace. Likewise, Sean Brooks
of the Save Darfur Coalition contends that the dearth of engaged civil society actors is problematic, serving only to perpetuate an ineffectual international role. “It is tribal and camp leaders, women’s organizations, and Darfuri youth who could help put pressure on both the movements and Sudanese government to commitment to real negotiations,” he says. “Rather than spending such a disproportionate amount of time chasing down rebel leaders and mediating their personal differences, the international community should focus more of their attention on listening to these emerging constituencies for peace within Darfur.”
Iran: Stream of American and Iranian Messages Pervade Persian New Year
March 22nd, 2010 by Chanan
U.S. and Iranian leaders took the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, to offer a flurry of web-based messages to the Iranian people. On Saturday, the White House posted a YouTube video
of President Obama’s address, where he called on the Iranian government to choose a “better future” that “respect[s] the dignity and fundamental human rights of its own people.” At the same time, he lamented that multiple “good faith proposals” have been rejected by Iran’s leaders. “Faced with an extended hand,” he remarked, “Iran’s leaders have shown only a clenched fist.”
Few commentators reacted to this address though Steve Clemons
of the Washington Note thought his speech was “excellent” and that “this kind of public diplomacy is enormously important in reaching out for the prospects of change — even if the Iran government is recalcitrant.”
Not surprisingly, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
each responded in their own Nowruz speeches with damning criticisms of the U.S. and heaps of praise for last year’s presidential elections. Khamenei charged the U.S. government with trying to facilitate a civil war and criticized it for its deceptive engagement. He explained his rationale for dismissing Obama’s offers, saying that “if they [the U.S.] are extending a metal hand inside a velvet glove, we won’t accept.”
Meanwhile, Mir Hossein Mousavi
took to the Internet to issue his own statement, criticizing the government for its handling of last year’s election and citing gloomy projections for Iran’s economy. Mehdi Karroubi
, another opposition leader, also posted a video message condemning the government and pledging his life to defend his country, Islam and the Islamic Republic.
Will Health Care Reform Affect Foreign Policy?
March 22nd, 2010 by Josh
While most political insiders are busy unpacking the political implications of last night’s health care reform
vote, Marc Lynch
attempts to examine the landmark victory (assuming it emerges unscathed from the Senate) through a foreign policy lens. More precisely, he wonders if the seemingly chaotic and ill-conceived health care process can offer a “roadmap for Obama’s Middle East strategy,” perhaps indicative of a “long game” approach that doesn’t succumb to impatience, but instead maintains a “coherent, common method to dealing with intractable problems.” Lynch applies this conceptual framework to both Iran and Israel/Palestine to test for strategic similarities, and although he concludes that it’s hard to determine whether Obama truly subscribes to “long game” policymaking, “[his] health care victory should at least get people to reconsider the strategic logic behind his administration’s Middle East strategy.”
Meanwhile, Shadi Hamid
senses an opportunity to seize the health care momentum in order to construct a new Obama narrative, one which projects durability and strength as his defining characteristics. “This is the new storyline. Obama the tough guy. And now Obama the tough guy — rather than the dour, feckless Obama of two weeks ago — will be conducting U.S. foreign policy.”
But Stephen Walt rejects the notion of narrative-based policy analysis, viewing day-to-day storylines as superficial relative to the “larger structural forces that are shaping events and constraining choices.” Despite today’s euphoria, Walt contends that yesterday’s victory will not translate into additional clout abroad. “Bottom line,” he says, “Obama’s foreign-policy in box will look about the same at the end of the first term as it did when he took office.”
Iran: Rafsanjani’s Grandson Arrested at Airport
March 22nd, 2010 by Chanan
Iranian authorities reportedly arrested
the grandson of former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, late Sunday evening at Tehran’s International Airport as he returned from his studies in London to celebrate the Persian New Year, Nowruz. According
to the New York Times
, “the arrest of the grandson, Hassan Lahouti, appeared to be another attempt to press Mr. Rafsanjani, an influential figure who supported the opposition during last year’s elections but has recently staked out a more ambiguous position.”
Lahouti’s arrest comes amidst a conflicting series of prison releases and detainments by Iranian security forces. Late last week, another relative of Rafsanjani’s, Hussein Marashi, was arrested the day before dozens of other high profile opposition leaders were freed. At the same time, members of group called Iran Proxy were also arrested for alleged involvement in cyber warfare against the government. InsideIran
’s Keyhan Kasravi
reports however that this group was actually composed of a committee of students dedicated to fighting government-imposed censorship. Kasravi notes that the arrested included Hossein Ronaghi
, founder of the group and its “most important technical expert.”
Sudan: Donor Conference Addresses Darfur
March 22nd, 2010 by Josh
Yesterday, international donors gathered in Cairo to raise money for reconstruction efforts in Darfur. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit implored participating countries to donate generously, raising hopes that the one-day summit, organized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), would amass upwards of $2 billion for development projects in agriculture, water supply, health, and education.
The conference failed to meet that mark, however, with the 57 OIC members pledging only $850 million in developmental support. Nonetheless, participants still underscored the importance of continuing financial aid, particularly in light of Sudan’s precarious peace process
that has ebbed and flowed in recent weeks. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa stressed that the ongoing process of political reconciliation must be joined by development strategies. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu concurred, insisting that peace “will not only be achieved through political agreements but also through humanitarian and development assistance.”
But Enough Project director John Prendergast views the conference as a serious misallocation of resources for a strategy that may only exacerbate existing problems. “Pouring money into this environment is a recipe for ongoing instability and is no substitute for the more serious political engagement necessary for lasting peace and security rooted in a measure of justice that the Darfur people have clearly been denied,” he says.
POMED Notes: “Different yet Similar: Governance in the West Bank and Gaza”
March 19th, 2010 by Josh
The Palestine Center – the educational arm of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development – hosted an event to explore the similarities and differences between systems of government in the West Bank and Gaza. How have they made institutional improvements and has this effected the balance between security and liberty? How sustainable and vulnerable are these state-like systems? Dr. Yezid Sayigh, Professor of Middle East Studies at King’s College in London, addressed these questions and provided an overview of an evolving Palestinian political landscape. Expected speaker Dr. Khaled Hroub from the University of Cambridge was not able to attend.
for POMED’s notes in PDF, or continue below the fold.
Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Hamas, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Israel, Mideast Peace Plan, Palestine, Political Parties, Reform | Comment »
Iran: EU Leaders Issue Call to End Iranian Censorship
March 19th, 2010 by Chanan
Ambassadors from three European Union nations along with EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton
, protested Iran’s tightening grip on free expression and promised to respond if need be, according
to a document seen by the AFP
“The EU calls on the Iranian authorities to stop the jamming of satellite broadcasting and Internet censorship and to put an end to this electronic interference immediately,” said the text prepared for a Monday meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. ”The EU is determined to pursue these issues and to act with a view to put an end to this unacceptable situation.” The statement follows a recent request by Britain, France and Germany that the EU take measures to curb Iran’s technological capacity to stifle internal dissent by enforcing tighter limits on the sale of technology.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports
that elements of the Iranian opposition have eagerly embraced the U.S. Treasury’s decision to lift sanctions on technology companies that export Internet services. Still, many democracy activists are calling for discarding all bans on trade in online services in the hopes of circumventing the government’s attempts at censorship.
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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of POMED as an organization