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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Diplomacy
President Obama Condemns Violent Repression of Protesters
February 18th, 2011 by Kyle
President Barack Obama, issued a statement condemning the violence that took place across the region on Friday in Yemen, Bahrain and Libya. President Obama stated: “I am deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur.” He went on to say: “Wherever they are, people have certain universal rights including the right to peaceful assembly.” President Obama urged these governments to use restraint in their response to peaceful protesters and to respect their rights.
Posted in Bahrain, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, Libya, Protests, US foreign policy, Yemen | Comment »
POMED Notes: “After Mubarak: What do the Egyptian People Really Want?”
February 18th, 2011 by Kyle
On Wednesday, the Middle East Institute hosted an event focused on the public opinions of Egyptians in the wake of Mubarak’s fall from power, entitled, “After Mubarak: What do the Egyptian People Really Want?” The Middle East Institute hosted two speakers; Steven Kull, Middle East public opinion expert and director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, along with, Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution.
For full notes, click here for pdf. or continue below.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Diplomacy, Egypt, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Mideast Peace Plan, Military, Muslim Brotherhood, Protests, Public Opinion, Reform, Sectarianism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
Bahrain: After Violence US Analyzes Military Aid
February 18th, 2011 by Kyle
Following the Bahraini security forces’ attack on sleeping protesters in Lulu Square, U.S. officials are calling for a re-examination of aid to Bahrain and an investigation to determine whether U.S. aid was used in the attack.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, “has asked State officials…to identify the equipment and units involved in the attacks,” Leahy’s spokesman David Carletold POLITICO Thursday. Under the “Leahy Law,” aid will be cut off to any forces determined to have perpetrated human rights abuses; the United States gives aid to the Bahraini military.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) stated: “Using tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors is the worst kind of response to a nonviolent demonstration… I urge the government of Bahrain to put an end to the violence and allow the Bahrainis to voice their call for greater political freedom.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged restraint in a Thursday phone call with her Bahraini counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa , she said: “The United States strongly opposes the use of violence and strongly supports reform that moves toward democratic institution building and economic openness.”
Posted in Bahrain, Congress, Diplomacy, Military, US foreign policy | Comment »
Clinton Announces Reprogramming of $150 Million of Aid to Egypt
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Following a classified meeting with senators, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. will reprogram $150 million for Egypt to help support the country’s democratic transition and assist with their economic recovery. She also announced that Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns and senior White House advisor on international economics David Lipton will travel to Egypt next week to consult with their Egyptian counterparts on how the U.S. can most effectively deploy our assistance in line with their priorities. During the meeting, government officials also discussed the lessons of events in Egypt and the Middle East, the need for the United States to remain fully engaged around the world, and the negative consequences of cuts in H.R.1, the continuing resolution on FY2011 funding,  will have on national security.  Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James E. Cartwright added, “Everybody sees the soldier out there in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with every soldier, there is an element associated with either the State Department, our diplomatic corps, USAID. And they’re absolutely essential.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Foreign Aid | Comment »
Obama Administration Worried Egyptian Military Not Doing Enough
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Paul Richter, writing in the Los Angeles Times, reports that the Obama administration is concerned that the Egyptian military’s plans to reshape the government “may fall short of producing its promised democratic overhaul” given the military leadership’s failure to lift the emergency law and dismiss the old cabinet, as well as its condensed schedule for constitutional reform and elections which may not provide enough time for political parties to organize.  While the army is a respected institution that safeguards stability, it is more inclined toward the status quo and protecting its commercial interests, Richter writes. Egypt’s protest movement also seems worried by the army’s increased authority.  POMED Executive Director Stephen McInerney, who has served as an informal advisor to the White House and has been in regular contact with Egyptian groups and activists states, “Groups that have been skeptical are becoming a little bit more skeptical” and that the administration is ”clearly pleased with some steps, and want to be supportive publicly. But they do have concerns.” The administration has been privately applying “friendly but steady pressure” on Egyptian leaders to ensure the transition does not lose momentum and that promises to make irreversible changes towards democracy are upheld.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Military, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
State Department Launches Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Wednesday marked the launch of the U.S. State Department’s launch of Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society.  Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns opened the event by stating: “In recent weeks, we have been awed by the power of committed citizens to effect change in their societies.  We’ve borne witness to a remarkable triumph of human spirit and human courage in Cairo and in Tunis. ”  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed his remarks and also expressed U.S. support for democratic change stating: “Our support for democracy and human rights is not about siding for or against either governments or citizens. This is about standing up for universal principles and for those in and out of government who support them.”  Clinton also discussed the use of diplomatic channels “to engage with civil society as a cornerstone of our diplomacy,” stating that “the transition to democracy is more likely to be peaceful and permanent when it involves both the government in power and the broad cross-section of the governed.”  She said that the Strategic Dialogue will focus on issues like governance, accountability, democracy, human rights and women’s empowerment.  USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah also discussed the agency’s new approach to development which prioritizes democratic governance and its desire to continue to work with and support civil society organizations.
Sherif Mansour, a prominent Egyptian activist, also made a statement calling for the U.S. aid package to Egypt to reflect the administration’s commitment to civil society.   He criticized the State Department for conceding to “pressure from the Egyptian government to cut down funds for democracy and to make it only available for government-approved NGOs.”
Posted in Civil Society, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Foreign Aid, Protests, Reform, Tunisia, US foreign policy | Comment »
Why Bahrain May Be Next
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Writing in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof argues that Bahrain is a reminder that “authoritarian regimes are slow learners.” The Bahraini government, he states, has failed to learn the lessons of Tunisia and Egypt that the use of violence will “undermine the legitimacy of the government.”  Kristof states that while at first the protesters were demanding the release of political prisoners, an end to torture and less concentration of power in the al-Khalifa family that controls the country, the violence against protesters have led to calls for the overthrow of the ruling family with some calling for a British-style constitutional monarchy, where King Hamad would reign without power, and others calling for the ouster of the king. “All of this puts the United States in a bind,” Kristof says, as Bahrain houses a U.S. navy fleet and has been considered a model in the region by U.S. government officials, who maintain close ties to the al-Khalifa family.  Kristof calls on the U.S. to be cautious of that “our cozy relations with those in power won’t dull our appreciation that history is more likely to side with protesters being shot with rubber bullets than with the regimes doing the shooting.”
Posted in Bahrain, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Bahrain: Protesters Hold Lulu Square
February 16th, 2011 by Kyle
Anti-government protesters continue to occupy Pearl (Lulu) Square in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, after two days of violent clashes left at least two demonstrators dead. Two protesters have been killed so far by attacks from riot police. On Tuesday, Bahrain’s ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa made a television appearance in which he expressed his condolences for “the deaths of two of our dear sons” and said a committee would investigate the killings. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley responded to the protest violence stating: “The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain.” Crowley also supported Al-Khalifa’s comments and called for a quick investigation into the killings of protesters and urged, “all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.”
Posted in Bahrain, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, US foreign policy | Comment »
Sen. Mark Kirk Calls for a Middle East Stability Package
February 15th, 2011 by Kyle
As the debate continues this week in the House of Representatives on proposed budget cuts, including those to State and Foreign Operations, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)  and other senators are “looking to add a generous foreign aid package for Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries.” In an interview at The Cable in Foreign Policy, Kirk stated, “A [continuing resolution] that had full year funding for the troops plus an Egypt, Israel, and Middle East stability package of full year funding would send the right signal from the United States.” Kirk states that senators on both sides of the aisle support the initiative which would “fully fund foreign aid accounts for a host of countries in the region at the level requested by the president and pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.”
Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) the ranking Democrat on the House of Foreign Affairs Committee also supports the proposed plan including increased aid for U.S.-based organizations that promote civil society in Egypt such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Posted in Civil Society, Congress, Diplomacy, Military, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
USGLC Applauds Obama’s Proposed International Affairs Budget FY 2012
February 15th, 2011 by Kyle
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition recently commended the Obama administration’s proposed budget for International Affairs in FY 2012 as “a critical investment in America’s national security.” The USGLC goes on to state: “At a time of intense pressure to cut spending and in the context of an overall freeze on non-security funding, the President has presented an International Affairs budget that protects America’s security interests and maintains U.S. global leadership while also encouraging more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”
The USGLC listed the direct effects of the proposed international affairs budget cuts currently being debated in the House of Representatives: Jeopardize critical national security investments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq; reverse efforts of the Bush and Obama Administration to bolster civilian capacity and assume responsibilities that have been carried out by our military at a higher cost; diminish America’s ability to uphold its moral obligation by responding quickly and effectively to global disasters, such the Haiti earthquake last year; cripple the Feed the Future Initiative (a food security investment program); endanger lives (through reductions in global health spending); constrain U.S. leadership and limit the ability to leverage resources from other nations that address common global challenges.
For full USGLC report, click here.
Posted in Civil Society, Congress, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
Granger Applauds Cuts to FY2011, Clinton Warns That Cuts Will Devastate National Security
February 15th, 2011 by Naureen
Last week, Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) praised House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers for his leadership in the largest reduction in discretionary spending in U.S. history to complete the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations, which constitutes an 8 percent reduction from 2010 appropriations and a 21 percent reduction from the President’s 2011 budget request. She stated that it will set the tone for the FY2012 appropriations cycle “when cuts will go even deeper.” Granger also stated that as Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations she “will ensure that our foreign aid is not used a s a stimulus bill for foreign countries. This bill is about our national security and the funding levels reflect that” and that “the spending priorities reflect the fluid and tenuous situation in the Middle East. Volatility in the region highlights the importance of reaffirming our strategic partnerships and commitments.”
In response to the committee’s proposed cuts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrote a letter to Rogers stating, “Cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters, and will damage our leadership around the world…Across the Middle East, the Committee’s proposed cuts would force us to scale back our efforts at this particularly crucial time.” She also writes, “The Administration is committed to working with Congress to reduce the deficit in a balanced manner that does not impede our economic growth or risk our national security.”
Posted in Congress, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Clinton Applauds the Egyptian People and Chastises the Iranian Regime
February 15th, 2011 by Kyle
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a recent interview with  Al Jazeera, addressed the recent overthrow of Hosni Mubarak: “The Mubarak era is over. There is a new effort that is just beginning, and I think it is an – it’s important that the United States be seen as supporting the transition to democracy, and that is where we stand.” When asked about the current status of the military run government and the presence of former Mubarak supporters within this group, Clinton urged the Egyptian people to stay steadfast in their movement for change and that they must take part in the transitional process.
In another recent interview with Al Arabiya, Secretary Clinton applauded the Egyptian people for their ability to bring about political change without the interference of external forces.  She stated, “This was all about the Egyptian people, and I think the Egyptian people themselves made it clear that they wanted no violence, they wanted their human rights respected, and they wanted a transition to democracy.” When asked about Iran’s support for Egypt, Clinton responded: “We’ve seen this ironic hypocrisy coming from the Iranian regime that was trumpeting what was going on in Egypt and is now oppressing their own people.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Iran, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “After the Uprisings: U.S. Policy in a Changing Middle East”
February 11th, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) hosted a discussion on recent and ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt and their influence on U.S. relations with the region’s governments and people and what steps the U.S. government can take to support democratic transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. POMED Executive Director Stephen McInerney made opening remarks and introduced panelists: Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at Hoover Institution at Stanford University and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy; Tom Malinowski​, Washington Director at Human Rights Watch; and Mona Yacoubian​, Special Adviser at the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, United States Institute of Peace. 
To read full notes continue below, or click here for pdf.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Algeria, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Event Notes, Events, Freedom, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Jordan, POMED, Protests, Reform, Tunisia, Yemen | Comment »
President Obama Releases Statement on Egypt
February 11th, 2011 by Kyle
On Thursday, President Barack Obama released a statement calling for clear democratic reforms in Egypt. Obama stated that the Egyptian people are unconvinced by the government’s calls for reform and that: “The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.” He called for a lifting of the emergency law and for negotiations with the opposition to include discussion of “protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.” Obama went on to state: “The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Egypt, 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 »
Egypt: Foreign Ministry Rejects Calls for Immediate Transition
February 2nd, 2011 by Kyle
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry, released a statement on Wednesday rejecting calls from Western governments for an immediate transition of power. The statement said the aim of the calls from “foreign parties” has been to “incite the internal situation in Egypt.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Egypt | Comment »
World Leaders Respond to Violence in Egypt
February 2nd, 2011 by Kyle
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs​released a statement on Wednesday stating, “the United States deplores and condemns the violence in Egypt.” He also expressed that the US is “deeply concerned” with the events that took place in Tahrir Square today.  Al Jazeera spoke with its Washington correspondent who reported that it remains unclear what the Obama Administration will do next, but proposed that President Obama could decide to withold military aid if the Egyptian military does not work to prevent violence on the streets of Cairo.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he was “deeply concerned” by the violence and urged restraint from all sides and that the U.N. has been warning about the need for change in the Arab world for a decade.  He condemned attacks on peaceful protesters as unacceptable and reiterated the need for a peaceful and orderly transition to begin “without delay.” British Prime Minister David Cameron called the events “despicable” and called for reforms to take place in Egypt immediately. He went on to warn: “If it turns out that the regime in any way has been sponsoring or tolerating this violence, that would be completely and utterly unacceptable.” Baroness Catherine Ashton, the E.U.’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to transition to elections as quickly as possible.
Posted in Diplomacy, Egypt, Military, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy, United Nations | 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 »
Obama Urges Mubarak Not to Run Again
February 1st, 2011 by Kyle
The New York Times reports that President Obama has sent a message to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he should not pursue re-election in this years upcoming presidential elections. This decision effectively withdraws U.S. support for President Mubarak, a step that the U.S. Government has been unwilling to make in recent days. They report that this message was conveyed through former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Frank G. Wisner, who was in Cairo on Tuesday to meet with President Mubarak. This is the firmest step that the Obama administration has made in calling for reforms in Egypt including free and fair elections, but comes short of demanding that Mubarak step aside immediately, the most strident demand of the opposition.
Posted in Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections, Reform, US foreign policy | 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 »
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