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19 Jun 2010 - 28 Jul 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: June, 2010
Iran: Should the U.S. “Help” the Green Movement?
June 30th, 2010 by Farid
In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, William O. Beeman, writer, professor, and chairman of the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, expresses his concern over American intervention in the current state of affairs in Iran, arguing that “decades of United States interference in Iranian affairs have guaranteed that any official American support of an Iranian reform movement will poison that movement with the plausible accusation of another round of American desire to dominate Iran.”
Beeman argues that political evolution is the only means to consolidated political reform in Iran and that U.S. “help” to the Green Movement will only damage that process.
Posted in Iran, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Transatlantic Dialogue– Strengthening Cooperation on Democracy Support”
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
The National Press Club held a conference yesterday to discuss the transatlantic relationship between the United States and Europe in the effort to provide democracy assistance to the rest of the world. The discussion, moderated by Katty Kay of BBC World News America, featured five speakers: Madeleine K. Albright, former Secretary of State and current National Democratic Institute (NDI) Chairwoman​; Jerzy Buzek, President of European Parliament and former Polish Prime Minister; Vin Weber, former Congressman and former Chairman for the National Endowment for Democracy; Maria Leissner, Sweden’s ambassador for democracy; and Ana Palacio, former Foreign Minister of Spain. Other organizations contributed to the discussion as well, including the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Human Rights, Multilateralism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
HRW: Egyptian Police Operate Outside of the Law
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
Human Rights Watch issued remarks criticizing Egyptian police for beating and arresting protesters at peaceful demonstrations following the death of Khalid Said in Alexandria, stating that “security officials need to learn how to do their jobs without gratuitous violence that amounts to extrajudicial punishment.” The NGO reported that police in Egypt detained approximately 100 protestors during three protests, arrested 55 activists at a demonstration in Cairo, and beat others.
Meanwhile, Nabil Helmi, head of the National Democratic Party’s Commission on Human Rights and a member of the National Human Rights Council, attempted to defend the status of human rights in Egypt. Helmi stated yesterday that a new Anti-Terrorism Law about to be adopted will include greater restrictions on security forces than the Emergency Law. Helmi also argued that the amended Emergency Law represents an improvement over the old version of the law, and repeated the government’s position that its scope is limited, since it can only be applied in terrorism- and drug-related cases.
In an interview today with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Dr. Ayman Fouda– a forensic medicine specialist and former chief medical examiner in Egypt –applauds the government’s decision to perform a second autopsy in the case of Said, but questions the legitimacy of the results, stating, “I think the new report is incomplete and should be reconsidered.” Fouda argues that medical examiners in Egypt should have complete independence in carrying out their work, in order to avoid intimidation and potential inaccuracies in results. Currently, he indicates, the chief medical examiner operates under the authority of the Justice Minister.
The alleged beating and killing of Said at the hands of Egyptian security officers has sparked a protest movement and engendered harsh criticism of human rights violations, both within Egypt and on the international scene.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, NGOs, Protests | Comment »
Obama in the Middle East: “Mixed” Success, Divergence with Israel
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
Tablet Magazine today released the first section of a two-part series of analyses on President Obama’s policy in the Middle East. The article included commentary from four regional experts: Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group, Dore Gold of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security.
Abrams proposes that the administration’s approach to the region is creating a “diminished America” and a power vacuum. He argues that the administration has overemphasized the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in U.S. policy; according to Abrams, the key struggle in the region is not territorial, but ideological– pro-Western moderateness vs. Islamist-jihadism. To him, America’s main challenge is not Israel, but Iran.
Malley calls the success of the administration’s policy “mixed,” and suggests that Obama has succeeded in improving the image of the U.S. abroad, but not its credibility. He points to a number of factors inhibiting concrete results. Most of all, Malley blames what he characterizes as the administration’s mistaken, overly black-and-white perception of the region as divided into two camps– militants vs. moderates, whom the U.S. must support.
Gold observes that Obama began his term at a time of increased divergence between American and Israeli policy priorities, as Israel’s government has moved to the right and focused more on security issues, while the U.S. administration’s approach has emphasized diplomacy and dialogue. He notes that while Obama focused on the Israel-Palestinian conflict early in his administration, Israel’s chief concern has become Iran.
Finally, Exum comments that the administration’s policies in the region have centered on the “three I’s”: Israel, Iran, and Iraq. Citing Obama’s overall record on Israel and Iran as a failure– noting that relations with Israel’s leaders have been “badly managed,” while Iran appears poised to continue its nuclear program despite the new UN sanctions –Exum interestingly counts Iraq’s fragile stability as “the lone U.S. success story in the Middle East.” On the other hand, he points to Obama’s focus on Afghanistan as evidence that the administration is placing less interest and importance in the Arab world.
Posted in Afghanistan, Diplomacy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Mideast Peace Plan, US foreign policy | Comment »
Morocco: “Beacon” of Religious Tolerance, or Repressor?
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
Menachem Rosensaft, founder and Chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, writes at the Huffington Post that recent reactions by some U.S. Congressmen to the deportation of American citizens from Morocco on charges of proselytizing, are overly harsh and not merited. Rosensaft says that Jews and Christians practice their faith openly in Morocco without persecution, calling the North African nation “a rare beacon of tolerance in an otherwise mostly religiously xenophobic Muslim world.” He notes that Morocco is only one of many nations in the Arab and Muslim worlds with laws against proselytism on the books, and argues that the foreign citizens were expelled for violating national laws, not for their personal religion.
Rosensaft’s commentary comes in light of a hearing on religious freedom in Morocco held by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives in mid-June, in which several Congressmen leveled heavy criticism against the Moroccan government and called for repercussions. Rosensaft notes that Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) went so far as to equate Morocco’s actions to those of the Nazi regime in Germany, commenting, “these comparisons are over the top and betray either an ignorance or a disregard of history.”
Posted in Congress, Human Rights, Morocco | 1 Comment »
Sedaei: Zakaria Way Off Base on Iranian Prospects for Democracy
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
Sam Sedaei writing in the Huffington Post critiques Farid Zakaria for his criticism of Sen. John McCain’s June 11th piece on Iran in the New Republic, accusing Zakaria of misunderstanding and misrepresenting McCain’s commentary, while also perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes of Iran. Sedaei argues that McCain’s piece called for American leaders to voice stronger support for the Green Movement, a legitimate and crucial action in Sedaei’s view. He states, “By vocally supporting people’s right to choose their own government, democratic countries can help to weaken the legitimacy of a repressive regime,” adding that U.S. attention and dialogue on repression in Iran is “all Iranians have been wanting from democratic countries as they fought to maintain the momentum in the movement.”
Sedaei also disputes Zakaria’s suggestion that the Iranian regime remains secure and unlikely to topple under the pressures of the reform movement. According to Sedaei, the Iranian regime is suffering from widening divisions at the highest levels, while the Iranian populace is increasingly disenchanted with the government, not supportive of it. He concludes that “the only way [for the U.S.] to permanently get reassured that Iran will not produce a nuclear weapon is to vigorously support democratization in Iran through international institutions and diplomatic means.”
Posted in Iran, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Lebanon: Historic Moment for Palestinian Rights?
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
Prime Minister Saad Hariri​called yesterday for national unity to afford greater rights to Palestinians in Lebanon, saying, “There are humanitarian, social and ethical duties, and the Lebanese state should assume the responsibility of providing them to the Palestinian brothers… Lebanon will not dodge these duties, which must be crystal-clear, and not be subject to any misinterpretation.” Hariri’s statements were echoed by exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who advocated for expanded Palestinian rights and stated, “We will not choose Lebanon over Palestine but it is shameful to keep the Palestinians in Lebanon without rights under the pretext of fear of resettlement.”
Hariri’s comments came at a press conference on the release of a new report by the Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC), an initiative begun by former Premier Fouad Siniora in 2005 that seeks to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees. Hariri indicated his commitment to seeking a political agreement on Palestinian rights in exchange for security cooperation from Palestinian factions in charge of Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps.
In a recent commentary in the Daily Star, Rami G. Khouri​criticizes endemic racism and ill-treatment of Palestinians in Lebanon, and suggests that the recent breakthrough on the political front in addressing Palestinian refugee rights centers on four factors: new draft legislation in Parliament to give Palestinians full civil and human rights; heated public debate of the issue in the media; a growing peaceful protest movement orchestrated by both Palestinians and Lebanese; and Hariri’s remarks reaffirming the LPDC. Khouri suggests that Lebanon finds itself at a historical moment– similar to the 1960s civil rights movement in the U.S. and the campaign against Apartheid in South Africa –where it has the opportunity to root out discrimination and integrate a marginalized group for the betterment of the society as a whole. If Lebanon succeeds, he argues, “It can also be a shining example to other Arab countries to face their own shameful mistreatment of the foreigners amongst them.”
Posted in Human Rights, Lebanon | Comment »
Obama-Abdullah Meeting: No Talk of Reform?
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
The White House issued a press release yesterday on President Obama’s meeting with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, detailing the topics covered by the two leaders during their conversation. According to the release, their discussion encompassed a broad range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East peace process, assistance to Afghanistan, Lebanese sovereignty, the security and stability of Yemen, and the need for a unified Iraq, on the regional front. On the international front, the leaders discussed combating extremism, and Obama commended Abdullah’s efforts to prohibit terrorism and its financing, as well as his initiative to promote dialogue among religions and cultures. The two leaders also “welcomed the continuing expansion of economic, scientific, business, and educational ties” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabic in light of the G-20 summit and global economic growth, and reaffirmed the strength of relations between their nations.
Notably absent from the list of topics mentioned in the press release was any discussion of democracy, reform, or liberalization, either within Saudi Arabia or throughout the Middle East, despite recent criticism of Abdullah’s record on reform and continued reports of human rights abuses in the Gulf kingdom.
Posted in Saudi Arabia, US foreign policy | Comment »
Rep. Lowey: No Aid to Fund Corruption in Afghanistan
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), chairwoman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs announced on Monday that she will not approve the inclusion of further aid to Afghanistan other than humanitarian assistance in the Fiscal Year 2011 Appropriations Act, citing government corruption and misuse of funds as her motivation for the cuts. Lowey stated, “I do not intend to appropriate one more dime for assistance to Afghanistan until I have confidence that U.S. taxpayer money is not being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials, drug lords and terrorists. Furthermore, the government of Afghanistan must demonstrate that corruption is being aggressively investigated and prosecuted.”
The Congresswoman’s remarks come in the aftermath of an annual report released in November of last year by Transparency International, which ranked Afghanistan second worst in the world in terms of its levels of corruption, coming behind only Somalia.
James Traub asks in Foreign Policy whether Afghan president Hamid Karzai is worth the battle in Afghanistan, commenting that he was able to brainstorm a list of only 5 reasons for staying the course and 10 for abandoning the U.S. effort, among them “Karzai is too corrupt” and “Karzai doesn’t believe in it.” Nevertheless, Traub concludes that the consequences of leaving the war-torn country could prove too high, as a U.S. withdrawal would be likely to strengthen Islamic radicalism worldwide, in his assessment. If the U.S. is to carry on, Traub proposes, it must push Karzai to “take governance seriously” and remove his corrupt allies, or otherwise “get out of the way” so that others can lead.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Karzai​disagreed with the negative assessments of his government coming out of Washington, stating, “We are accountable for the money that international community is donating for Afghanistan and there is transparency in usage of these donations.”
Posted in Afghanistan, Congress, Foreign Aid | Comment »
Iraq: Intra-Sectarian Partnership In the Works?
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
Reuters reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his main rival Iyad Allawi met yesterday for only the second time since the March 7 parliamentary elections. The meeting comes against the backdrop of continued political stalemate, as the new Shi’a bloc formed by Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance has struggled to move forward on selecting candidates for key leadership positions in the new government. In light of this situation, a senior leader within Allawi’s al-Iraqiyya party appeared to confirm recent speculation that Maliki might attempt to strike a deal with Allawi, stating, “we have agreed that the related negotiation committees will meet to discuss all the issues and the possibilities for cooperation and forming an alliance.”
Meanwhile, popular frustration boiled over last week, with public protests culminating in the resignation of a top official, while other reports point to a new wave of violence that appears to be taking advantage of the national political impasse to target officials.
Commenting on the increased dialogue between Shi’a Rule of Law and secular-Sunni al-Iraqiyya, Reider Visser writes at Iraq and Gulf Analysis that certain political issues are being raised that could potentially unite the two parties across secular lines, under the banner of Iraqi nationalism. He suggests that Rule of Law appears to be moving toward a firmer stance more in line with al-Iraqiyya’s position on “disputed” Kurdish territories such as Kirkuk. Nevertheless, Visser observes that “there is nothing new in this,” noting that divisions on such issues ultimately undermined a previous all-Shi’a alliance.
Posted in Elections, Iraq, Political Parties | Comment »
Pakistan: Is Democracy Possible?
June 29th, 2010 by Farid
In a New York Times op-ed, Jeffrey Gedmin, president of Radio Free Liberty/Radio Liberty, and Abubakar Siddique, a senior correspondent​, shed light on Pakistan’s quest for democracy.  While it may appear quite difficult to achieve a consolidated democracy in Pakistan, due to its lack of security and financial stability, Gedmin and Siddique seem optimistic about the potential for a future democratic culture to arise in the country.
However, Gedmin and Siddique recognize two major obstacles in that regard: The role of the Pakistani military and the “nascent civil society.” As the Pakistani military has always been very influential in internal as well as international issues, it has impeded the democratization process, Gedmin and Siddique argue. Yet, as extremist forces have become a significant threat to the Pakistani domestic political order, the military has been forced to modify its influence in internal political affairs. Also, since civil society is a new phenomenon in Pakistan, there is an urgent need for “robust support for free, professional, responsible media,” Gedmin and Siddique suggest, adding that the U.S. must also engage in dialogue with the religious establishment of the country. Their inclusion in the process is vital for a pluralistic Pakistani state to be democratic, they argue.
Posted in Pakistan, US foreign policy | Comment »
Egypt: Protests and Negotiations Continue in Lawyers-Judges Clash
June 29th, 2010 by Jennifer
Thousands of attorneys continued to protest the arrest of their colleagues Ehab Saei el-Din and Mustafa Fatuh, organizing sit-ins in front of courthouses over the weekend and vigils on Monday. Lawyers planned to stage similar demonstrations later in the week as well. Meanwhile​, Adel Abdel Hamid, head of the Supreme Judicial Council, conducted a closed meeting on Sunday with Hamdi Khalifa, chairman of the General Lawyers Syndicate in a second attempt by leaders of the two groups to reach an resolution to the situation. Negotiations between members of the leadership continued to move forward on Monday under the mediation of Moqbil Shaker, vice president of the National Human Rights Council (NHRC).
The clash between judges and lawyers in Egypt has made national headlines since it began several weeks ago.
Posted in Egypt, Judiciary, Protests | Comment »
Jordan CSS Poll: Public Unaware and Confused by New Elections Law
June 29th, 2010 by Jennifer
The University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies released a striking public opinion poll on Monday regarding electoral processes in Jordan. The poll evaluated public knowledge and opinion in three key areas: the new Elections Law, the most recent parliamentary elections in 2007, and the upcoming November 9 parliamentary elections. The third section also included questions on the impact of the tribes on elections.
Under the first category, the poll indicated that 66% of respondents reported that they were entirely unaware that the government had instituted a new Elections Law. Of those polled who had heard of the law, only 52% were informed of its details to any degree, and of those, only 17% characterized their knowledge as extensive. On the other hand, 16% indicated that they had no information whatsoever about the details of the law, while 23%  reported that they were unable to understand some of the law’s details. In a stunning statistic, 62% indicated that they accepted or agreed with the new law, even though only 33% reported any knowledge of the law’s existence in the first place.
Asked whether they believed this year’s elections will be free and fair, 65% of the respondents said yes, while 9% said no, and 13% responded that they did not know. A large majority, 72%, felt that punishments for vote-buying  would prevent its occurrence in the elections. On the other hand, a large segment of those polled, 25%, reported their intention to boycott the elections. This number is significant, given that elections are only 20 weeks away and that 57% of respondents reported that they did vote during the previous round of elections. Regarding tribalism, 31% of those polled who voted previously indicated that they cast their vote for a relative or based on tribal affiliations, versus 16% who reported that they voted for the candidate’s platform.
Some observers criticized the public confusion made apparent by the results of the poll, with one blogger commenting that the study points to “yet another massive government failure to communicate with the people, especially over complex legislation that desperately needs to be understood by an electorate if the goal is to actually get them to vote.” The author suggested that bringing in international monitors to observe the elections might lend more credibility to the Jordanian government, in that regard.
Posted in Elections, Jordan, Public Opinion, Reform | Comment »
Iran: Struggle Between IRGC and Clerics Good for Green Movement
June 29th, 2010 by Farid
In a new analysis at Tehran Bureau, Muhammad Sahimi describes the fission between clerics and the IRGC establishment over political power as an avenue for the Green Movement’s success. Referring to several historic events and describing the interconnectedness between Ayatollah Khamenei, the IRGC, and clerics around the Supreme Leader, Sahimi points out that loyalties to Khamenei have brought his closest supporters significant financial prosperity and that they therefore “have a vested interest in preserving the status quo.”
Sahimi reports that since its creation, the IRGC has gained significant cultural, political, religious and social influence — from national radio and television broadcasting, to consolidated institutions that attack reformist platforms. As a result of the political tension in the aftermath of last year’s elections, Sahimi argues that there is evidence of a power struggle between the IRGC, the clerical establishment, and the current regime. “The Guards’ ultimate goal is to expel the clerics from power and play the same role in Iran that the military plays in Pakistan and Egypt, and used to play to Turkey. In this vision, a cleric may still nominally rule as Supreme Leader, but the Guards will hold the real power.” Nevertheless, according to Sahimi, this power struggle along with the administrative incompetence of Ahmadinejad’s  presidency “will help bring about their eventual downfall,” adding that “the democratic movement needs to be patient.”
Posted in Iran, Reform | Comment »
Lebanon: Rights Groups Call For End to Torture
June 29th, 2010 by Jennifer
A group of civil society organizations issued a joint statement on Saturday calling on the government to “​demonstrate their firm opposition to torture and other forms of ill-treatment… To condemn these practices unreservedly and to make clear to all members of the security forces that torture and ill-treatment are not tolerated.” The statement received the endorsement of Amnesty International and six domestic NGOs, and was released on the occasion of International Day for the Support of the Victims of Torture. The statement claimed that “in Lebanon, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are still resorted to by state security officers and non-state actors,” despite the country’s ratification of the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) in 2000 and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention of Torture (OPCAT) in December 2008.
Human Rights groups pointed to the fact that the Lebanese government has yet to establish a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM), an independent body whose creation is required by OPCAT and that has the authority to inspect detention centers without prior notification. They also objected to the State’s failure to produce a report on the situation in the country, an obligation under its CAT commitments.
Posted in Human Rights, Lebanon, NGOs | Comment »
Saudi’s Abdullah: Reformer or Autocrat?
June 29th, 2010 by Jennifer
Two pieces in Foreign Policy analyze U.S.-Saudi Arabian relations and the nature of the Saudi regime, in light of King Abdullah’s upcoming visit to the White House. Simon Henderson​questions the standard portrayal of the Gulf kingdom as a staunch and straightforward ally of the U.S. in the region. Henderson suggests that the relationship is in fact more complex, arguing that Abdullah has taken steps to distance his government from Washington since 2001 in order to more effectively address Sunni-Shi’a issues and Sunni extremists at home. The author cites Saudi’s slide down the list of top oil exporters to the U.S., and its increasingly divergent view toward how to deal with Iran and the question of nuclear energy in Gulf countries, as prominent examples of this trend.
Toby C. Jones also points to uncertainty in the strength of future relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabic, suggesting that the two nations may not see eye to eye on key issues such as how to ensure security in the Persian Gulf, and dubbing Abdullah “a complicated ally” who has pushed back in recent years against unpopular U.S. policies such as the war in Iraq.
On the front of democracy and liberalization, Jones argues that Abdullah has not proven himself to be the reformer some had hoped for. While noting that the monarch has created at least some minimal space for greater freedom of the press and expression, Jones suggests that Abdullah’s ultimate goal is to increase his own family’s grip on power vis-a-vis the clergy, which has gained in influence since the 1970s. According to Jones,”Despite the new levels of openness enjoyed by Saudi citizens, Abdullah is not leading the kingdom on the path to political liberalism. Just the opposite: While making small social and economic concessions, the king is in fact turning the clock back in Arabia.”
Posted in Events, Freedom, Journalism, Reform, Saudi Arabia, US foreign policy | 1 Comment »
Lebanon: Palestinians Still Struggle For Rights
June 28th, 2010 by Farid
The Daily Star reports a mass demonstration outside of the United Nations Headquarters in Lebanon yesterday, demanding civil rights for Palestinian refugees. 5,000 people participated in the demonstration as a petition was handed to Adnan Daher, Secretary General of the Lebanese Parliament, asking for “the right to own property, the right to mobility and the elimination of Article 59 of the work law, which restricts the Palestinian right to work.” The parliament will reconvene on July 5 to discuss the amendments, and new protests are scheduled for the same date. 
Posted in Lebanon, Protests, Reform | Comment »
Steny H. Hoyer: Democracy Should Be A Pillar of U.S. Foreign Policy
June 28th, 2010 by Jennifer
Speaking on national security policy at Center for the Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) highlighted democracy promotion as one of four “crucial tools” to safeguard national security and combat threats such as international terrorism. Calling democracy, human rights, and economic freedom “the most powerful weapons in an ideological struggle,” Rep. Hoyer pointed to the fall of the Berlin Wall as evidence that “experience shows that the values of free societies can break down the strongest walls of oppression. And American foreign policy has, at its best and most creative, taken advantage of that fact to keep our nation more secure.”
Hoyer went on to detail lessons learned on democracy promotion from the Bush era, arguing that “democracy cannot be imposed by force; that elections alone do not equal democracy; that democratization and economic growth do not always go hand-in-hand; and that failing to lead by example weakens democracy around the world.” In that light, he called for a renewed U.S. commitment to recognizing and supporting democratic movements publicly, mentioning Iran and Egypt specifically in that regard. Hoyer emphasized his belief in a dovetailing of U.S. interests and values on this issue, proposing that working to enable greater democracy and freedom worldwide would bring American foreign policy into line with national ideals, while ultimately making the country safer as well. “All of our presidents have understood the value of pragmatism,” he stated, “but they have also understood that it must be balanced with America’s historic role as the advocate of democratic values and democratic movements around the world.
Hoyer also criticized policies that violate the rule of law and human rights on the home front, including use of torture, rendition, and extrajudicial detention.
Posted in Congress, Democracy Promotion, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
Egypt Ranks Worst on Rule-of-Law Index
June 28th, 2010 by Jennifer
Egypt received the worst ranking among Arab states on the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2010 rule-of-law index, announced at a MENA conference on the rule of law held by the organization in Morocco over the weekend. Egypt received low scores in a number of categories, including government accountability and security and stability. The report also ranked Egypt the lowest among Arab states on government transparency, legal competence, official corruption, international law, and freedom of expression.
Posted in Egypt, Freedom, Publications | Comment »
Iraq: Democratic But Unequal?
June 28th, 2010 by Farid
The main question posed by Anthony Shadid in his recent piece on the state of affairs in Iraq is: “Can democracy exist in countries where not all citizens feel equal?” Describing the polarized and plural society of Iraq, Shadid argues that Iraq is far more complex than the caricatures of it drawn by United States as divided into sects and ethnicity. These preconceptions, supported by Iraqi exiles who helped form the Iraqi Governing Council, failed to recognize the demographic reality of Iraq, Shadid argues.
Shadid explains that people now fear a future Iraq modeled after Lebanon, which has failed on many occasions to maintain peace between its various sects. Since the 2005 elections in Iraq, quotas have been implemented to satisfy all groups of society. In recent years, politicians have agreed to discard the quota system. However, disputes still arise over leadership roles. As Shadid describes, some advocate maintaining the quota system in order to protect minority rights and voices, while others argue against this notion, saying that it conflicts with the concept of national citizenship since representation and political loyalties become much more communal. “No one speaks for the nation in Iraq. Perhaps there really isn’t one,” says Shadid.
Posted in Iraq | Comment »
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