Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Arab League
Egypt: Amr Moussa Joins Protests, Calls For Investigation Into Violence
February 4th, 2011 by Naureen
On Friday, Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa
was reported to be with protesters demanding the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak at Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The former foreign minister of Egypt has said he was “at the disposal” of the Egyptian people, expressing his readiness to play a role should a transitional governing body be formed and stating that he would consider running for president in September. Moussa is one of the most commonly-approved potential presidential candidates by Egyptians. On Thursday, the Arab League called for an investigation into the violence in Tahrir square between pro and anti-government protesters.
Farcical Elections Offer Little Hope Across Middle East
December 2nd, 2010 by Evan
recently published an article documenting democratic stagnation across the Middle East. Elections in Bahrain, Jordan, and Egypt have only led to the “perpetuation of rule by well-entrenched strongmen, the demoralisation and sometimes radicalisation of the forces opposed to them, and the degradation of the word democracy,” the author writes, adding that there is little difference between countries “that make a show of practising it and those, like Saudi Arabia, that do not even pretend.” According to The Economist, the Middle East’s democratic deficit is partially the result of uncertainty about what democratic governance should actually look like: “As many opinion polls have shown, Arabs sound keen on the idea of democracy. But what is understood by democracy, in a region with so few examples of it, remains open to question. Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, once described the Egyptian army as an example of democracy, on the ground that a commander weighs opinions from his officers before making a decision. By this definition, his party may deserve its name.”
Iraq: Mixed Reactions to Saudi Offer for Talks
November 1st, 2010 by Anna
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah offered
to host talks in Riyadh between the leaders of Iraq’s main political factions. The talks, which would be under the Arab League’s auspices, would take place at the end of this month. The reactions to the offer were mixed. The Iraqiya party welcomed the initiative and called on other political blocs to take part. The National Alliance turned down
the offer, expressing confidence that the political stalemate could be resolved in Baghdad without outside “interference
.” The Kurdish bloc also reportedly rejected the offer, contending that King Abdullah’s involvement would only complicate the problem. Outside Iraq, the Arab League’s Secretary General Amr Moussa
seemed to welcome the idea, and Egypt likewise expressed support for the initiative and urged Iraqi politicians to make the necessary compromises in order to end the political impasse.
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.
Egypt: Moussa Won’t Run for President
December 23rd, 2009 by Jason
In an interview
(Arabic) with al-Masry al-Youm
, Arab League head Amr Moussa announced he will not run for president in Egypt’s 2011 elections. He explained, “The question is, is it possible? And the answer is, the road is closed.” The current constitution makes it nearly impossible for an independent candidate to run for president, and Moussa refuses to join a political party for pure “political opportunism.”
Meanwhile, President Mubarak
met with King Abdullah
in Riyadh today before heading on to Kuwait. They discussed
the Middle East Peace Process and the Houthi insurgency in Yemen. Al-Masry al-Youm
reports that the newly elected members
of the MB Guidance Bureau swore fealty to General Guide Mahdi Akef
yesterday. Sources within the MB suggest a new general guide will be named within two days.
and Sarah Carr
contend Egypt’s opposition groups are “blighted by internal divisions.” They observe that the Muslim Brotherhood has endured “heavy blows from the regime” as the media focused on the Brotherhood’s internal rifts. Meanwhile, Ayman Nour has been physically attacked, disbarred, and legally prohibited from running for office. While opposition groups banded together in October to campaign against the succession of Gamal Mubarak, the Kefaya movement has already withdrawn its support. Now Kefaya is left “trying to prove that it is still relevant” as it clamors for the election of an “alternative president” separate from the regime.
Babylon and Beyond delves deeper into the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent election, which resulted in a victory for the conservative faction. According to MB analyst Abdul Rehim Aly, “hard-liners couldn’t accept the presence of reformers within the group itself, so how can anyone expect them one day to have a dialogue with other people belonging to different religious and cultural backgrounds?”
explores several moral controversies
of 2009, including the Ramadan arrests, the niqab ban and virginity kits, that “highlighted the conflict between Egypt’s so-called secular government and its age-old traditions.”
Posted in Arab League, Diplomacy, Elections, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Kuwait, Middle Eastern Media, Mideast Peace Plan, Military, Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine, Political Islam, Saudi Arabia, Secularism, Women | Comment »
Report: Human Rights on the Decline Part II
December 12th, 2009 by Jason
As we reported earlier
, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) has released a comprehensive and thorough report, called “Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform,” on the state of human rights throughout the Arab world. The full report in Arabic spans 254 pages and chronicles in detail the backsliding on human rights in the region while also identifying a few points of optimism. In addition to the full report, CIHRS has released a translation of the report’s introduction written by their general director, Bahey eldin Hassan
, as well as a 21-page summary of the report in English.
According to Hassan’s introduction, while there have been important strides to “ease repressive measures” in the Middle East under the Forum of the Future regional initiative, in no country were there “real constitutional, legislative, or institutional gains that could upset the balance of power between authoritarian regimes and the forces of reform.” Hassan blames this failure on the narrow focus on electoral reform at the expense of human rights, the contradictory actions of the G-8 countries, attempts by the Arab League to co-opt reform with their own homegrown initiatives, and the European and American fear of Islamist electoral victories. Finally, Hassan contends “the last spark in the initiatives was quashed once and for all with the arrival of a new US administration” apparently unwilling to support democracy rhetorically.
Now, Hassan warns that the minor gains made over the past five years are under a “counterattack by Arab governments. Among other examples of backtracking, the Arab league disabled the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which only had 10 of 22 signatory countries to begin with. As with the CIHRS report last year, Hassan concludes that “lack of political will on the part of most regimes in the Arab region was the key to understanding and explaining chronic human rights problems in the region.”
Posted in Algeria, Arab League, Bahrain, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, EU, Egypt, Elections, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Gulf, Hamas, Hezbollah, Human Rights, Iraq, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Israel, Jordan, Journalism, Judiciary, Kurds, Lebanon, Legislation, Military, Morocco, Multilateralism, Muslim Brotherhood, NGOs, Palestine, Political Islam, Political Parties, Protests, Public Opinion, Publications, Reform, Saudi Arabia, Sectarianism, Syria, Tunisia, US foreign policy, United Nations, Western Sahara, Women, Yemen | 1 Comment »
New Challenges and Few Options
November 18th, 2009 by Jason
The PLO will extend Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
‘ term in office
when it meets in December, reports The Daily Star. His term currently ends on January 25th, but it is increasingly likely elections will not be held by that time. The Parliament’s term is also set to expire the same day, but it is unclear how the PLO will proceed along that front. Abbas also serves as the chairman of the PLO.
in The New Republic
argues that even if Abbas was bluffing about his resignation
, “with every bombastic statement, Abbas seems to be limiting his domestic options.” Now, Abbas is presented “with new challenges and few options.” His current option, as The Daily Star
reports, is to push for a unilateral declaration of statehood despite resistance from Washington and Europe. After talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak yesterday, Abbas vented, “What is the solution for us? To remain suspended like this, not in peace?” At the Commentary blog, David Hazony
responds that the “real problem with Palestinian independence - the elephant in the room, if you will - is that there is no viable Palestinian regime that can claim to run a sovereign country.”
Steven Cook worries that if the situation continues to deteriorate, a “third intifada is likely to erupt in the near future.” There is a strong precedent of Palestinian leaders resorting to violence to bolster domestic popularity and today’s leaders may come to the same conclusion. But John Whitbeck
in the Christian Science Monitor offers a different alternative for the Palestinian leadership. He argues they should offer an ultimatum to Israel: either reach a negotiated deal by the end of 2010 or they will seek a single-state solution based on equal rights and full citizenship for all.
Moldy Remains of the Palestinian State?
November 12th, 2009 by Jason
reports that President Mahmoud Abbas
will likely accept a recommendation to delay elections currently scheduled for January. The head of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission confirmed that they told Abbas “we cannot have elections at the time he scheduled them,” especially because of Hamas’ refusal to participate. However, there are no signs Abbas will give in to American pressure to resume peace talks
with Israel without a full settlement freeze. Abbas’ threat to resign was a major point of discussion
between President Obama
and Prime Minister Netanyahu in a long one-on-one meeting this week.
Posted in Arab League, Diplomacy, EU, Egypt, Elections, Foreign Aid, Hamas, Israel, Mideast Peace Plan, Palestine, Political Islam, Political Parties, US foreign policy, United Nations | 2 Comments »
Middle East International Refounded
November 9th, 2009 by Jason
The Middle East International has restarted its printing press
after a six-year hiatus, releasing a free PDF issue online in commemoration. According to the Arabist, MEI offers “long articles and analysis from writers based in-country who [know] what they [are] talking about.”
There are several articles in the first issue related to democracy in the Middle East. David Gardner explores why “the Arab world is mired in despotism” and blames America’s “morbid fear of political Islam” for its failure to promote democracy in the region. While the Bush “freedom agenda” is no more, the realization that “tyranny, connived in by the West, breeds terrorism, instability, and societal stagnation” still holds true. Therefore, “President Obama needs to rescue that insight before it is swept away in a backlash of shallow realism.” Gardner continues, “support for autocracy and indulgence of corruption in this region, far from securing stability, breeds extremism and, in extremis, failed states.” Yet while the U.S. must do more to promote democracy, Gardner reminds us that ultimately Arab citizens must lead the effort to democratize their respective countries.
Posted in Arab League, Bahrain, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections, Freedom, Gulf, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Islamist movements, Israel, Lebanon, Legislation, Libya, Muslim Brotherhood, NGOs, Neocons, Oil, Political Islam, Political Parties, Publications, Reform, Sectarianism, Secularism, Turkey, US foreign policy, Uncategorized, United Nations, sanctions | Comment »
Clinton to Visit Egypt
November 3rd, 2009 by Jason
As the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) wrapped up their party convention, Gamal Mubarak
criticized Egyptian opposition groups for trying to besmirch the NDP
. This criticism was reinforced by the NDP official Ahmed Ezz
, who blasted the opposition for attempting to ”create a negative mental image of the party and mobilize public opinion against us.”
Meanwhile, Hamdi Qandil
in al-Masry al-Youm questions what qualifications Gamal Mubarak has to become president, arguing “Gamal Mubarak has neither been made in Egypt nor lives in the real Egypt. He’s an Egyptian citizen only in theory.” He goes on to ask why the National Democratic Party has so harshly criticized other potential presidential candidates, like IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei
, head of the Arab League Amr Moussa
and Nobel laureate Ahmed Zuweil, who have all made undeniable contributions to their country. The answer, he argues, is that the NDP seeks “to kill the ambition of any citizen who is qualified to lead the country, so that the stage will be set” for Gamal Mubarak to succeed his father.
UPDATE: Sandmonkey argues “the Egyptian political scene is at an all time low, with all the players either sidelined (see Islamists, also leftists), or completely distracted (see liberals) with minutia and fighting over foreign funds.” He expresses special animus towards the “Pretenders” like the Kefaya movement, the 6th of April Youth and Ayman Nour.
Moussa for Egyptian President?
October 23rd, 2009 by Jason
The head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, announced he is considering running for the Egyptian presidency
in 2011. According to The Daily Star
, “Moussa is wildly popular in Egypt and the Arab world for his frequent criticism of the United States and Israel.” In a recent interview, Moussa asserted “every capable and efficient citizen has the right to aspire for the supreme post, which is the president of the republic.”
suggests that Moussa’s potential candidacy reminds “everybody that it’s not a guarantee that Egypt’s next leader will be as oriented to Washington” as Hosni Mubarak. She also quotes a former U.S. official who contends U.S. interests are “better served when a strategic country is run by a legitimate ruler who enjoys the trust of his own people as opposed to an American-paid autocrat who does our budding but is scorned by his subjects.”
Meanwhile, the political party Al-Wasat Al-Gadid (The New Centrist) has filed an official complaint to Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights after being denied official status last month. Last month’s rejection was the fourth time the party applied for, and failed to receive, official recognition from the Egyptian government. According to their complaint, the council members “violated the constitution and the law and betrayed their consciences” in order to oppose al-Wasat. Some experts believe the government opposes al-Wasat because it is a religion-based party. Finally, the Arabist contextualizes the recent civil demonstrations
against the E-Agrium plant in Damietta as part of “Egypt’s diffused wave of social protest” that has affected the entire country.
New Arab Reform Bulletin
October 7th, 2009 by Jason
In this issue, Hamadi Redissi contends that despite all the pitfalls of Tunisia’s upcoming October 25th election, it might be an opportunity for the “opposition to push back red lines and expand the margins of freedom.” Although Jordan’s Al-Ikha parliamentary bloc possesses “all the characteristics of an effective group of reformers,” Andrew Barwig explains why they will ultimately lose influence and cave into pressure “to tow the government’s line.” Mervat Rishmawi discusses the current status of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, arguing its success “will depend on how seriously Arab states and Arab human rights organizations decide to take it.”
Maati Monjib elaborates on the significance of female participation in Morocco’s June elections on the greater picture of gender equality in the country. Finally, Vivian Ibrahim argues that the Egyptian government’s decision to cull the country’s pigs to fight swine flu has not only increased Muslim-Christian tensions but also represents “the systematic alienation of Egypt’s poorest communities, Copt and Muslim alike.” Posted in Arab League, Egypt, Elections, Freedom, Human Rights, Jordan, Morocco, Muslim Brotherhood, Political Islam, Political Parties, Publications, Tunisia, United Nations, Women | 1 Comment »
Leaders React to Iran’s Election Results
June 15th, 2009 by Blake
There was a wide range of responses from world leaders to the results of Iran’s Presidential Election on Friday. Congratulations were offered to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
by Iran’s neighbors, where Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari interpreted the win as evidence of Ahmadinejad’s “outstanding services” to Iran. From the Arab League, Secretary-General Amr Musa expressed hopes for a second term defined by “progress on the relations between Iran and the Arab world and cooperation in establishing peace in the Middle East.”
Voicing concern about violence against continuing opposition protests, the European Union has also called for an investigation
into election conduct. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon also vocalized concern about election “irregularities.” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband condemned violence by the Iranian state but emphasized the importance of international engagement with the people and leaders of Iran following the election.
American responses have thus far been restrained. Before election results were announced, Secretary Clinton confirmed that the U.S. was closely monitoring the election with the hope that “the outcome reflects the genuine will and desire of the Iranian people.” On Saturday, the White House expressed appreciation for the “vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians.” Yesterday, Vice President Biden commented on the election results: “It sure looks like the way they’re suppressing speech, the way they’re suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated, that there’s some real doubt.”
P.L.O. Markets Arab Peace Initiative in U.S.
May 28th, 2009 by Eoghan
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) has taken out a full-page ad in today’s Washington Post to publicize the Arab Peace Initiative, the 2002 proposal by the League of Arab States to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for Palestinian independence. The ad notes that the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), which encompasses Muslim nations around the world, has also endorsed the initiative on numerous occasions, including at a foreign ministers meeting in Tehran in 2003. The OIC has also called for “the deployment of international forces to secure stability and calm in the region to supervise and monitor the implementation of the Road Map.”
POMED Notes: An Egyptian Perspective on Middle East Peace
April 28th, 2009 by Eoghan
The Protection Project at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosted a panel today on Egypt’s role in the Middle East peace process. The discussion also explored Egypt’s domestic political situation. The panelists were Professor Hossam Badrawi, a member of the reformist wing of the ruling National Democratic Party and a member of the National Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mounir Fakhri AbdelNour, Secretary General of Al Wafd Party and also a member of the National Council for Human Rights, and Dr. Abdel Monem Said, Director of Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. Mohamed Mattar, Executive Director of the Protection Project and a professor at Georgetown’s Elliott School of International Affairs, moderated.
Posted in Arab League, Egypt, Event Notes, Hamas, Hezbollah, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Mideast Peace Plan, Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine, Political Parties, Secularism, Syria | Comment »
Another Arab Summit Come and Gone…
April 1st, 2009 by Cecile
It seems Qaddafi
were the highlight of the Arab Summit. And in fact, the only thing the 17 heads of state could seem to agree on
was ardent support for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir
as he faces an ICC indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity. A Washington Post
editorial argues “[i]f the Obama administration and the rest of the civilized world needed further demonstration of why the promotion of democracy and human rights must be central to any policy for the Middle East, Omar Bashir’s reception in Doha ought to suffice.”
Meanwhile, Marc Lynch points out that the most interesting point about the summit’s final communique is the near absence of Iran in the text. “Iran barely appears - not a word about the nuclear program, only a call to settle the dispute with the UAE over the disputed island in the Gulf.”
And guess who’s set to host next year’s summit…why Libya of course.
Drama Ensues at Arab Summit
March 30th, 2009 by Cecile
provides a useful guide
to this week’s Arab Summit taking place in Doha. He points out “[t]his isn’t just another Arab summit. It’s the first real gathering of the Obama era, and it’s a rare chance to put to rest the old habits and establish new ones.”
Unfortunately, if the start of the summit is any indication, it appears old habits die hard. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak
will not be in attendance, as he is still angry over Qatari-based Al Jazeera’s critical campaign against Egypt’s position during the Gaza war. Additionally, “Egypt appears annoyed by Qatar’s attempts to project an image of being a key regional player of the same weight as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”
It was also reported that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafistormed out of the summit
this morning after criticizing Saudi’s King Abdullah and proclaiming “I am…the dean of Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims.”Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon
and Omar al-Bashir
for the first time since the ICC ordered Bashir’s arrest.
For an in-depth analysis of the issues being addressed at this year’s summit, check out David Schenker
’s backgrounder at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
All About Iran
December 29th, 2008 by Jason
Plenty of debate on Iran policy this morning:
In the Daily News Egypt
, Karim Sadjadpour writes that though there is a strong current of reform in Iran, there remains an entrenched political elite that has little interest in endangering its privilege through rapprochement with the U.S. Sadjadpour notes that engagement runs right through the office
of Ayatollah Khamenei, and even an unsuccessful attempt at dialogue will work to America’s strategic advantage.
In the Post
, Ray Takeyh analyzes what Iran would want out of engagement with the U.S. He sees overlapping interests on Iraq, but is much less sanguine about the nuclear program and patronage of Hezbollah. In another report, Arab League head Amr Moussa
makes clear that the Arab nations will want a seat
at any dialogue table.
A Call for Arab Leadership
December 8th, 2008 by Jason
Two interesting companion pieces today on the dire need for Arab nations to step up and show collective leadership on critical regional issues.
In the Daily News Egypt, James Zogby argues that Arab governments should not merely wait
for Barack Obama
before they move to “put their house in order”, and they “should be more than spectators during this critical transition period” particulary as relates to the Fatah-Hamas divide and the Mideast peace plan.
Much harsher is Patrick Seale
’s article in the Middle East Times
. In it, Seale decries the collective “Arab impotence”
and writes that “the endemic inability of Arab states to act together has led to a paralysis of Arab diplomacy and, more generally, to the discredit of the whole Arab state system.” He links this paralysis to increased radicalism:
“[D]espair at the lack of effective action by Arab governments has driven the Arab “street” to become increasingly radicalized. Paradoxically, the greater the fear of Arab regimes at the growing appeal of extremist ideas among their populations, the more blinkered and repressive they become, and the less able to rescue their reputations by bold joint action.”
Arab Regimes Restoring Ties With Baghdad
October 7th, 2008 by Jason
Recent events signal that Arab nations are beginning to reconcile with the Maliki government. Since April, Bahrain, Jordan, and the UAE have named ambassadors to Baghdad. Over the weekend Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit made a surprise visit to Iraq
, the first such visit since 1990. And yesterday, the Arab League dispatched an ambassador to Baghdad
Perhaps alluding to the waning American footprint, the Arab League diplomat said, “We need a more active Arab role in Iraq.”
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