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The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Democracy Promotion
Egypt: Pragmatism vs. Democratic Reforms
February 8th, 2011 by Kyle
Marc Lynch, writing at Foreign Policy, addresses the growing concerns over the Obama administration’s seemingly tacit support of Omar Suleiman, and fears that the administration has “abandoned its push for democratic change, and succumbed to short-sighted pragmatism.” Lynch notes the successes of the administration in dealing with Egypt, but states that the hope for Mubarak’s quick flight from the country has passed and attention has shifted to the “much messier terrain of negotiations over the terms of Egypt’s transition.” Lynch believes the administration must carefully analyze how it will use its influence to gain concrete reforms and outlines some initiatives he believes are essential to this: “I would focus on the lifting of the Emergency Law, the dissolution of Parliament, and the creation of a credible, non-biased commission to oversee the transition.  I would also focus on exacting a firm, public commitment from any leader managing the transition — including Suleiman –  that he will not stand for election in September.” Lynch believes an effective way to begin achieving these goals is by creating a special envoy that can closely watch the entire transition process and help to ensure its success in creating democratic reforms.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, US foreign policy | Comment »
Working Group on Egypt Sends Letter to Administration Expressing Concern
February 8th, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, the Working Group on Egypt sent letters to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing fears that the administration may “acquiesce to an inadequate and possibly fraudulent transition process in Egypt” as the current process undertaken by Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman is deemed to have “many attributes of a smoke screen.” They caution that supporting Mubarak and Suleiman’s proposals rather than the legitimate demands of the opposition would be a serious error if we seek “a true transition to democracy and an open political system that protects civil rights and liberties.” They go on to say that the “need for constitutional changes is not a justification for the continuation in power of Hosni Mubarak” and provide a list of elements necessary for transition.
Click here to read the Working Group’s letter to Obama.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Clinton and Kerry Call for Reform and Concrete Steps Towards Transition
February 7th, 2011 by Naureen
On Sunday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to address his nation and clarify what the timetable and process for transition will be.  ”The most important thing now,” Kerry said, “is to guarantee the process is in place where there are free and fair elections.”  Speaking on NPR on Sunday, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that she had spoken to Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and pressed him to issue timelines and ensure that the dialogue process is transparent and meaningful and leads to concrete steps towards transition.  Clinton also called on other Arab leaders to implement economic and political reform.  Speaking to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik on Saturday, Clinton also emphasized the need to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people are met and that a broad cross-section of civil society and political actors are involved in the transition process.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Elections, Protests, Reform | Comment »
House Democrats Call For Action on Egypt
February 7th, 2011 by Alec
Democratic House Reps. Jim Moran - VA, John Conyers - MI, Raul Grijalva - AZ, Michael Honda - CA, Jim McDermott - WA, and Keith Ellison - MI, sent House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) a letter calling for the House to take up an emergency resolution to express support for the Egyptian people and their “struggle for freedom and democracy as soon as possible upon returning to session.”  The letter stressed the importance of sending a “strong message” to the Egyptian government and military to respect the people’s right to assemble, protect unarmed citizens, and immediately halt any use of aggression against demonstrators.  The House members also said that the Egyptian people had the right to determine the future of their government and that Congress should help, “amplify President Obama’s message calling on President Mubarak to respond to the urgent and legitimate demands of the Egyptian people.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Protests, US foreign policy | Comment »
Is Egypt’s “Democratic Window” Closed?
February 7th, 2011 by Naureen
Joshua Stacher, writing in Foreign Affairsargues that “Egypt’s democratic window has probably already closed.” He states that “contrary to the dominant media narrative, over the last ten days the Egyptian state has not experienced a regime breakdown.” In fact, Stacher argues that the Mubarak regime, which has the unwavering support of the military, has implemented a sophisticated good-cop, bad-cop strategy with the police functioning as the regime’s repressive army and the army keeping order in the streets: “With the protesters caught between regime-engineered violence and regime-manufactured safety, the cabinet generals remained firmly in control of the situation.” They have also launched a strategic campaign to wear down the non-protesting population, which had generally supportive of the anti-regime demonstrators. Stacher goes on to say that while calls for President Hosni Mubarak to resign have intensified, the real question is if the those guiding the transition will choose to direct it towards democratic ends; if that person is Vice President Omar Suleiman, he says, “the prospects for democracy are grim.”
Michael Allen, writing at Democracy Digest, also questions the future of democracy in Egypt given the military’s ties to Mubarak, Suleiman’s dismissal of the protests as “promoting a foreign agenda” rather than reflective political aspirations and socio-economic grievances, the lack of cohesion among opposition groups and growing rifts within the groups.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Protests, Reform | Comment »
Leahy Ready to Freeze Aid to Egypt, Graham and Granger Call for Caution
February 4th, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, Chairman of the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that he intends to freeze aid to Egypt until unrest subsides: “The fact of the matter is, there’s not going to be further foreign aid to Egypt until this gets settled.” Speaking to MSNBC on Wednesday, Leahy called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down saying that the aid “pipeline would be turned off” until he does.  A temporary cut-off will occur if the country does not stabilize in the next month, Leahy said;  the current government funding law is set to expire on March 4th. Leahy lauded the role the Egyptian military has played thus far, but warned that if there is any evidence that the military is violating human rights using equipment funded by the U.S., their assistance “would be cut off immediately,” per a U.S. law that Leahy himself drafted. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) cautioned his colleagues on curring aid by asking them to “consider the consequences of such an action. Give the Egyptian people a chance to work this out.” Chairwoman of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) called for caution when discussing aid to Egypt.
Posted in Congress, Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Foreign Aid | Comment »
Egypt: Opposition to Announce a Negotiating Body
February 4th, 2011 by Kyle
Al-Ahram reports that the anti-government opposition has stated that they will announce a 25 member negotiating body on Saturday. Ziad El-Eleimy, lawyer and youth activist, announced that the committee would include opposition leader Mohamed​ElBaradei​, Nobel Laureate and scientist Ahmed Zewail, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.​The other specifics about who would make up this group were not given, but it was reported that five of its members will come from the youth movement. El-Eleimy stated that this group would attempt to enter into negotiations once President Hosni Mubarak steps down, or if a credible announcement is made pledging Mubarak’s commitment to step down within a specified, and short, period of time.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Protests | Comment »
U.S. in Talks With Egypt’s Government on Mubarak’s Departure
February 4th, 2011 by Naureen
U.S. officials have stated that talks are under way between the Obama administration and top Egyptian officials on the possible immediate resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and the formation of a military-backed caretaker government that could prepare the country for free and fair elections later this year.  The officials stressed that the United States isn’t seeking to impose a solution on Egypt but said the administration had made a judgment that Mubarak has to go soon if there is to be a peaceful resolution to the crisis.  White House and State Department officials would not discuss details of the discussions US officials are having with the Egyptians, and an administration official stated that there is no single plan being discussed with the Egyptians. Rather, the administration is pursuing different ideas with Egyptian figures on how to proceed quickly with a process that includes a broad range of voices and leads to free and fair elections.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Protests, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “From Tunisia to Egypt: Protests in the Arab World”
February 4th, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a discussion of the developments in Egypt and their implications of the Arab world, where protests began in Tunisia and have spread to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and Algeria. Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment, moderated the event and introduced the other panelists: Amr Hamzawy, Research Director and Senior Associate of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut who joined the panelists from Midan Tahrir in Cairo, Michele Dunne, Senior Associate in the Middle East Program at Carnegie Endowment, and Marina Ottaway, Director of the Middle East Program at Carnegie Endowment.
To read full notes continue below or click here for pdf.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Event Notes, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Journalism, Muslim Brotherhood, Protests, Reform, Tunisia | Comment »
Kerry-McCain Draft Resolution Calling for Transition to Interim Government in Egypt
February 3rd, 2011 by Naureen
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator John McCain have cosponsored a resolution calling on Egypt President Hosni Mubarak to “immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system,” including “the transfer of power to an inclusive interim caretaker government in coordination with leaders from Egypt’s opposition, civil society and military.” While they hope that Egypt will “hold free, fair, and internationally credible elections this year,” they also expressed their “concern over any organization that espouses an extremist ideology, including the Muslim Brotherhood.” They also noted that it is vitally important that any new government continue “to fulfill its international obligations, including commitments under the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.”
On Wednesday, McCain also released a statement calling for Mubarak’s resignation: “The rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt leads me to the conclusion that President Mubarak needs to step down and relinquish power…I urge President Mubarak to transfer power to a caretaker administration that includes members of Egypt’s military, government, civil society, and pro-democracy opposition, which can lead the country to free, fair, and internationally credible elections this year as part of a real transition to democracy.” While he remained concerned about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, he stated that “Egypt must have a democratic future. It is the will of the Egyptian people. It is in the interest of the United States. And the greatest contribution that President Mubarak can make to the cause of democracy in his country is to remove himself from power.”
Posted in Civil Society, Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Elections, Islam and Democracy, Israel, Military, Muslim Brotherhood, Reform | Comment »
Egypt: Iran 1979 or Indonesia 1998?
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
In an opinion piece for The New Republic, Thomas Carothers argues that those who compare the situation in Egypt to Iran in 1979 are making a “dangerously misleading” comparison.  He claims that Egypt is more analogous to Indonesia after President Suharto stepped down in 1998.  Carothers argues that the Muslim Brotherhood is “significantly different” from the Islamist movement of Ayatollah Khomeini as it has renounced violence, undergone decades of moderation, and lacks a charismatic central leader like Khomeini: “Egypt is not ripe for a radical Islamist revolution.”  While admitting it is not a perfect analogy, the economic and social situation in Egypt more closely mirrors that of Indonesia than it does Iran: “[…] from its newly assertive mix of idealistic young protestors, civic groups, and political opposition parties to its longstanding effort to balance secular and Islamist values […] Indonesia’s democratization offers some hope for Egypt.”  Shadi Hamid, writing in Slatesays the the U.S. has an “Islamist dilemma” that paralyzes American policy in the Middle East.  He echoes Carothers sentiments that, “the [Muslim] Brotherhood of today is not the Brotherhood of yesterday.”  Hamid says that the U.S. can deal with the group through “creative policymaking” and calls for the U.S. to begin a substantive dialogue with them: “It is always better to have leverage with opposition groups before they come to power, rather than afterward. Afterward is, often, too late.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Iran, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Muslim Brotherhood, Political Islam, Protests, US foreign policy | Comment »
Wisner Recalled, Administration Worries Transition Not Happening Soon Enough
February 3rd, 2011 by Naureen
On Wednesday, former U.S. Ambassador Frank G. Wisner returned to Washington with an administration official saying that he was no longer able to be an effective conduit to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after their private conversations were leaked. U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey is now leading discussions and conveying U.S. wishes for the transition process to being as as soon as possible. Administration officials told ABC News that President Barack Obama is “very concerned” that Mubarak may not begin the process or an orderly transfer of power as quickly as he needs to. In a press briefing on Wednesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made clear that the administration expects transition to begin now: “What the people of Egypt want to see is not some process that starts a week, a month or several months from now…There are reforms that need to be undertaken, and there are opposition entities that have to be included in the conversations as we move toward free and fair elections that we’ve advocated for quite some time.” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley echoed Gibbs’ remarks stating, “The longer that this goes unresolved, the greater the danger of further violence. And it is imperative that this process begin now…The people have spoken, and it’s time for Egypt and those officials who want to play a role in Egypt’s future to respond significantly.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections, Protests, Reform | Comment »
Obama Calls for Democratic Transition to Begin Now
February 1st, 2011 by Naureen
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama made a statement on the events in Egypt and his conversations with President Hosni Mubarak. Obama began by praising the Egyptian military for its restraint and professionalism: “I urge the military to continue its efforts to ensure this time of change is peaceful.”
He went on to say that the U.S. “stands for freedom of information and expression” and stated that going forward the U.S. will continue to support democracy. “We have spoken out on behalf of the need for change,” he said and mentioned that in conversations with Mubarak he expressed that “those of us who are privileged to serve in positions of power, do so at the will of the people.” Obama stated that “Mubarak recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable.”
He also stated that it is not the role of any country to determine Egypt’s leaders: “To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: we hear your voices…and I believe that you will determine your own destiny.” Obama also stressed that, “Orderly transition must be meaningful, must be peaceful, and must begin now...the process of change should lead to elections that are free and fair and meet the aspirations of the people… There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident Egyptian people will find those answers…and the U.S. stands ready to assist the Egyptian people in the aftermath of these protests.
Update: To see his full statement click here.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Elections, Protests, Reform, Upcoming Events | Comment »
Kerry’s Responds to Events in Egypt and Mubarak’s Speech
February 1st, 2011 by Naureen
Speaking at a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committeee, Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) stated that he believed “it is vital for President Mubarak to help transform this moment into the new Egypt and that he needs to address the nation and embrace the people’s aspirations.” President Hosni Mubarak also needs to say that neither he nor his son will be candidates for election or reelection in the presidential elections.
Following, Mubarak’s announcement Kerry released a statement saying: “This was an important announcement by President Mubarak to bring his presidency to an end and pledge that free and fair elections will be held. I believe that President Mubarak should now work with the military and civil society to establish an interim caretaker government.” He added though, “it remains to be seen whether this is enough to satisfy the demands of the Egyptian people for change “and that much work remains to be done to turn this auspicious moment into lasting peace and prosperity” as the country will prepare for elections and peaceful transition. He called on the opposition leaders “to develop a process that will ensure all of Egypt’s voices are heard.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Elections, Protests, Reform | Comment »
Obama Envoy Calls for Mubarak to Step Aside
February 1st, 2011 by Kyle
The LA Times reports that that former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he must step aside and allow a new government to take shape. This message was apparently immediately rebuffed by President Mubarak. The piece also reports that the U.S. urged Mubarak not to be a part of the transition that the U.S. has called for in recent days. These recent developments are the boldest claims made by the Obama Administration since major protests in Egypt began.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy, Uncategorized | Comment »
Turkish and Israeli PMs Voice Support for Egyptian Protesters
February 1st, 2011 by Kyle
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu​expressed his cautious support for the protesters in Egypt, encouraging, “the advancement of free and democratic values in the Middle East.” Netanyahu also stated: “Israel believes that the global community must demand that any Egyptian government preserve the peace treaty with Israel.” This claim came in the context of a broader appeal to the protesters if they succeed, to maintain Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. This comes from the fear of the possibility of radical elements assuming control, which Netanyahu believes would be “a blow to peace and democracy.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gave explicit comments in support of the Egyptian protesters stating: “We hope that these incidents come to an end as soon as possible, without leading to great suffering, and that the people’s legitimate and sensible demands are met.” Erdogan went further asserting: “Our greatest wish in Egypt and Tunisia is that reforms are implemented as soon as possible, but also that peace and security are established.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Islamist movements, Israel, Mideast Peace Plan, Protests, Turkey | Comment »
U.S. Ambassador Speaks with ElBaradei
February 1st, 2011 by Kyle
On Tuesday, US Ambassador Margaret Scobey, spoke with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. This was part of a greater effort by the US Government to increase its outreach to opposition groups in Egypt. She delivered the message that the US Government has been making in public, “namely that Washington wants a political transition but will not seek to dictate Egypt’s political future.”
Posted in Civil Society, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
U.S. Needs to Take Clear Stance on Side of Opposition
February 1st, 2011 by Naureen
Writing at the Huffington Post, Dina Guirguis criticizes current and past U.S. policy towards Egypt. For years, she states, Egyptian democracy advocates have argued in favor of peaceful political reform in Egypt while U.S. administrations and foreign powers “dismissed calls and warnings of Egypt’s disintegrating social compact that could lead to an explosion.” She argues that it is becoming “painfully obvious that there was no strategy on the part of the U.S. except to respond in piecemeal fashion to the power play on the ground” and states that while Washington pundits have been stuck in “democracy vs. stability” arguments, Egyptians are moving toward change. The protests, Guirguis says, have defied expectations: they are largely secular, they are by and large peaceful, and demonstrators have “an undying resolve in the face of a brutal security apparatus and regime push back.” The US and the world, she says, need to understand that Mubarak’s regime has not been a guarantor of stability in the region or helping to advance U.S. interests in the region, but rather his policies have fueled sectarianism, extremism, and instability. Moving forward, she calls on the international community to help Egypt have an orderly and peaceful transition by standing with the “reasonable demands” of the Egyptian opposition “before a descent into inexorable chaos truly becomes imminent.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
White House Prepares for a Post-Mubarak Egypt
January 31st, 2011 by Naureen
Josh Rogin writing at The Cable, spoke with National Security Staff experts who attended a White House meeting on Monday morning over the events in Egypt. The experts stated that the meeting was “intense and constructive” and that “a real debate over the path forward for U.S. policy ensued,” with White House staff implying that they believed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was on his way out. While they have not directly told Mubarak to leave, they have made the United States’ expectations clear; ”We can’t be seen as picking a winner. We can’t be seen as telling a leader to go,” said Ben Rhodes, NSS Senior Director for Multilateral Engagement. While the White House staff is skeptical that new Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman will take over they do see him as an influential force during the “transition period. ” Rogin states that “transition” is the administrations new buzz word which allows them “to position themselves on the side of the protesters without throwing Mubarak completely under the bus.”
Michele Dunne, senior associate in the Middle East Department at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and member of the bi-partisan Egypt Working Group, also urged the White House to make swifter and more forceful statements to prevent misperceptions in Egypt that the U.S. tried to prop up Mubarak’s regime: “What we were trying to tell them is that change is coming, the status quo is passing away, and the question is do we want to shape that change constructively or not.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “The Breakdown of Autocracy in Tunisia”
January 31st, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, The Maghreb Center hosted a discussion at Georgetown University on the causes of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and the role of the United States and France before, during, and after the revolution. Dr. Néjib Ayachi, founding President of the Maghreb Center and International Development Consultant at the World Bank, opened the discussion and introduced the panelists: Stephen King, Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Robert Prince, Lecturer in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and Rust M. Deming, former Ambassador to Tunisia from 2000 to 2003. The event was moderated by Ahmed El-Hamri, Economist at the World Bank and Associate at the Maghreb Center.
To read full notes continue below, or click here for pdf.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Event Notes, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Political Parties, Protests, Reform, Tunisia | Comment »
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