Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
POMED Notes: The Crisis in the Arab World’s Aging Leadership
January 7th, 2011 by Kyle
On Wednesday, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a discussion focused on the issues of succession, authoritarianism and democracy in relation to Arab leaders entitled, “The Crisis in the Arab World’s Aging Leadership.” Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, Director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center introduced the speaker David Ottaway, former Cairo Bureau Chief of The Washington Post and current Senior Scholar at the Wilson Center.
For the full notes, continue reading below. Or, click here
for the PDF. Or, click here
for full video.
POMED Notes: “What Next for Afghanistan? A Post-Election Analysis”
October 20th, 2010 by Anna
On Monday, October 18th, the Brookings Institution held an event called “What Next for Afghanistan? A Post-Election Analysis.” The panel was moderated by Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. The panelists were Thomas Garrett, Vice President for Programs at the International Republican Institute; Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow and Director of Research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution; Vanda Felbab-Brown, Fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Gerard Russell, Former Senior Political Adviser for Afghanistan. The group discussed the recent parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, focusing on polling irregularities, voter intimidation, tabulation errors, prospects for peace talks between President Hamid Karzai and Taliban leaders, and the future of the U.S. and NATO role in the country.(For the full notes, continue reading below. Or, click here for the PDF.)Read the rest of this entry »
POMED Notes: “Do Jordan’s Elections Matter?”
October 4th, 2010 by Anna
On Monday, October 4th, The George Washington University hosted a panel entitled “Do Jordan’s Elections Matter?” The event was moderated by Marc Lynch, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington. The panelists were Curtis Ryan, Associate Professor of Political Science at Appalachian State University, Anne Mariel Peters, Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University, and Jillian Schwedler, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The speakers were asked to discuss Jordan’s upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for November 9th. In a few opening remarks, Mark Lynch pointed out that much of the discussion about democracy in the Middle East has been “telescoped” on Egypt. Amidst hopes for reform in Jordan, however, it seems important to ask whether these elections will bring change. What role will Islamist groups play, and what election reforms have been made? More broadly, do the elections matter at all?The full event notes are below - otherwise, find the PDF here.Read the rest of this entry »
POMED Notes: “Towards A Palestinian State : Is Institution Building Succeeding?”
September 29th, 2010 by Anna
On Wednesday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the United States Institute of Peace co-hosted a panel discussion titled “Towards a Palestinian State: Is Institution Building Succeeding?” The discussion was moderated by Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, a Program Officer in USIP’s Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution. The panelists were Nathan Brown, a Nonresident Senior Associate of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment, Neil Kritz, the Senior Scholar in Residence in the Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at USIP, Ghaith Al-Omari, Advocacy Director at the American Task Force on Palestine, and Howard Sumka, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East for USAID.
For the full notes, continue reading below. Or, click here
for the PDF.
Posted in DC Event Notes, Events, Foreign Aid, Hamas, Judiciary, Mideast Peace Plan, Palestine, Political Parties, Public Opinion, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War”
September 25th, 2010 by Evan
Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way presented their new book, “Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War,” Friday at an event hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy. Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace gave a response and Marc Plattner, the president for research and studies at the National Endowment for Democracy moderated the event.
(To read the full event summary, continue below. Or click here
for the pdf.)
POMED Notes: “Let the Swords Encircle Me: A Journey Behind the Headlines of Iran”
September 21st, 2010 by Evan
Scott Petersen presented his new book, “Let the Swords Encircle Me: A Journey Behind the Headlines of Iran,” Tuesday at an event sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program. The Carnegie Endowment’s Karim Sadjadpour gave a brief response and the subsequent question and answer session was moderated by Halah Esfandiari, Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program.(To read the full event summary, continue below. Or, click here to read the pdf.)
POMED Notes: “Egypt at the Tipping Point?”
September 17th, 2010 by Anna
On Friday, David Ottaway gave a talk at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars titled “Egypt at the Tipping Point?” Ottaway – who is a senior scholar at the Wilson Center and the former Bureau Chief for the Washington Post in Cairo – discussed the findings from his recent paper, published in the Wilson Center Middle East Program’s Summer 2010 Occasional Paper Series. The talk was introduced and moderated by Haleh Esfandiari
, the director of the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program.
(To read the full event summary, continue below. Or, click here to read the pdf
Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Elections, Events, Freedom, Human Rights, Islamist movements, Journalism, Middle Eastern Media, Military, Muslim Brotherhood, NGOs, Political Parties, Protests, Public Opinion, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes “Egypt on the Brink: Looking Ahead to Elections and Other Possible Transitions”
September 14th, 2010 by Evan
George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies convened a panel of experts today to discuss the political situation in Egypt in advance of the fall parliamentary elections and the 2011 presidential elections. GWU Professor Marc Lynch moderated a spirited debate between participants Tarek Masoud Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Nathan Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and Samer Shehata Assistant Professor of Arab Politics at Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.
(Continue reading POMED’s full notes below, or view them as a pdf
Coverage of POMED Turkey Event
September 14th, 2010 by Evan
POMED’s recent event, “Is Turkey Becoming Less Democratic?”, received coverage from Voice of America’s (VOA) Turkish service and Istanbul-based Ihlas News Agency (IHA). The VOA report (in Turkish) emphasized panelist Daniel Brumberg’s suggestion that the real effect of the constitutional reforms will be determined by how the AKP government governs in the coming years. IHA focused
(in Turkish) on panelist Gonul Tol’s comment that while the reforms represent a significant step forward, they still fail to address fundamental challenges like the resolution of minority issues.
Egypt: Popular Discontent?
July 20th, 2010 by Farid
At GlobalPost, Theodore May describes the recent developments in Egypt as “on the brink of collapse
,” citing author Alaa Al Aswany who sees “a turning point in Egyptian history.” Recent demonstrations against the Gaza blockade and the brutal killing of Khaled Said, according to May, indicate massive “disaffection” from the public. Al Aswany compares the current situation in Egypt to the one in 1949 in which “people realized that the old system is no longer valid, but they don’t yet know what form the new life will take.” May argues that although many have high hopes for potential presidential candidate Mohammed ElBaradei, as long as he spends his time between Egypt and Europe, ElBaradei invites “complaints that he is trying to lead a revolution in absentia.” May also warns that Ayman Nour’s imprisonment after his 2005 campaign “serves as a cautionary tale for any politician standing in opposition to the current government.”
POMED Notes: “Human Rights and Obama’s Policies in the Arab World”
July 8th, 2010 by Jennifer
Last week, the Carnegie Endowment and the Heinrich Boll Foundation held a conference focusing on the success of current U.S. policy on human rights and democracy promotion in the Arab world. Carnegie’s Michele Dunne moderated discussion by a panel of experts that included: Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Tamara Cofman Wittes, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs; Bahey El Din Hassan of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; and Amal Basha of the Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights in Yemen.
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 Hendersonquestions 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
Green Movement in Iran Receives 2010 NED Democracy Award
June 18th, 2010 by Farid
“As a result of the Green Movement’s simple call for the Iranian government to accord the people the decent respect that is their right, it has connected with the global democratic movement, which has been called upon to embrace the people of Iran and to make their struggle its own,” is one of the reasons given by the National Endowment for Democracy for honoring the Green Movement with the 2010 Democracy Award last Thursday.
Participants in the award ceremony included the Honorable Richard A. Gephardt, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, author Azar Nafisi, Simin Behbahani, and Mahnaz Afkhami, and many others. Speaking for President Obama, Samantha Power read his remarks congratulating the Green Movement “The courage of so many Iranians in the face of severe repression is inspiring. It reminds us of democratic movements that have brought greater freedom and respect for universal rights to every region of the world. It causes us to look forward to the day when Iranians will be able to speak freely, assemble without fear, and express their views without facing retribution - a day when the Iranian government will represent and foster not fear, but instead the aspirations of its own people,” said President Obama.
Iran: Green Movement Still Moving?
June 14th, 2010 by Farid
Despite the opposition’s cancellation of Saturday’s protests marking the one-year anniversary of the disputed presidential elections, there were nonetheless small, scattered protests, during which 91 people were arrested in the streets of Tehran. In an e-mail interview
between reformist leader Mehdi Karoubi and CNN, Karoubi proclaimed, “the Green Movement today is stronger and more mature than last year.” Karoubi added that the future of Iran is in the hands of the people and the success of the Green Movement is secured by the diverse participation of its population.
In today’s interview
with Mehdi Karroubi by LeMonde, he stated, “I am determined to bear everything to continue the fight…what is happening in Iran is a real betrayal of the people and the ideals of the revolution.” This was said after the attack on him by a group of thugs in Qom. In contrast to this optimism, Con Coughlin argues
in the Telegraph that “the Green Movement, of course, is nothing like the force it was last year, when it succeeded in mobilising hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters, who brought large swathes of the country to a standstill.”
However, according to an interesting piece by Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the obstacles facing the Green Movement are not simply the lack of mobilization into the street. Sadjadpour lists five key challenges that the Green Movement must overcome:
1. Go beyond street protests- also to emphasize the percentage of people willing to sacrifice for their cause rather than the mere number of protesters.
2. Organize abroad
3. Reach out to “Ali the plumber”- meaning that the the Green Movement must reach out to the working-class Iranians who are currently in favor of Ahmadinejad
4. Steer clear of Khomeini’s legacy- as Sadjadpour argues “No matter how you slice it, Khomeini can never be a credible or inspiring symbol for a movement that purports to champion democracy and human rights.”
5. Pick up the pace
In today’s piece
by Juan Cole, the Green Movement is neither dead or unimportant. “It can survive and be influential if it finds new tactics or repertoires of sustainable collective action that cannot so easily be forestalled by the security forces, and if it identifies some simple, practical change it wants legislated other than the holding of new elections.”Nevertheless, Cole points out several concerns to the Obama administration in its policies to Iran: The U.S. will probably need to engage with a fairly stable regime in Iran and direct negotiations do not constitute betrayal of the Green Movement, do not expect any radical change in the nuclear issue if the Green Movement comes to power, and any strike on Iran by the U.S. or Israel will destroy any hope for political change reforms in Iran.
Iran: Green Movement Not Really Backing Down
June 10th, 2010 by Farid
The Iranian opposition movement led by Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi has cancelled the protests on June 12 that would commemorate last year’s highly contested election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the presidency.
from the Facebook page of Zahra Rahnavard, Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s wife (for those of you who use Facebook please click here to go to her page), the leaders said: “It is self-deceptive and naive to believe that in [the Government’s] artillery with all the threats, insults, and lies, [it was] able to repress and subjugate people’s protest movement.” They added that “The true honour belongs to those who, despite all the threats, dangers, and insecurities and knowing the potential life-threatening and financial consequences, still have not given up on their rightful protest.”
In an article
for Radio Free Europe,
senior researcher at the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies in London, Mehdi Khonsari
, criticizes the two men by claiming that they will lose credibility as leaders of the opposition as they pledge allegiance to the current regime. Mohsen Sazegara however, one of the founders of the IRGC and current president of the Research Institute for Contemporary Iran in Washington D.C., argues that maintaining a pretense of loyalty to the system might be more beneficial in the long-run than to cling to radical demands of the government. Dr. Ali Ansari
, Director of the Institute of Iranian Studies at St. Andrews University agrees with Sazegara saying, “what it means is that when they are talking to members of the elite, who may be a little bit wary of moving, it feels as if it is part of one agenda, still part of the legacy.”
In his latest post
at the Daily Beast, Reza Aslan explains that the Green Movement will be successful as two primary pillars of the Iranian government’s legitimacy crumble: its role as the locus of Islamic morality and the will of the population. According to Aslan, “the Islamic Republic came into existence on the heels of a popular uprising. It knows better than anyone the power of the Iranian people, which is why it has thus far learned to bend (but not break) when confronted with the popular will of its citizens.” He also argues that the regime’s legitimacy as providing religious morale for the country has vanished due to greater criticism from senior clergy in Qom and further militarization of the political spectrum. Aslan argues that if anything changes in Iran,we should “thank the Green Movement, not another round of useless sanctions.”
Iran: Government Crackdown Ahead of Protests?
June 3rd, 2010 by Farid
As the Green Movement prepares to gather in the streets of Tehran to mark the anniversary of last year’s controversial presidential election, the Iranian government is preparing for the 21st anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Friday. According to Iranian media outlets, approximately 5 million people will attend the ceremony. Khomeini’s family usually organizes the event, but this year the IRGC have taken over this responsibility
, excluding Hashemi Rafsanjani
, the head of the Assembly of Experts, former President Mohammad Khatami
, and former Prime Minister Mousavi from the ceremony. Additionally, the Iranian government has not yet called for any demonstrations against the Israeli raid of the Gaza flotilla.
According to an interesting piece by Iranian-Israeli analyst Meir Javedanfar, the reluctance to call for demonstrations is due to Ayatollah Khamenei’s fear of another Qods Day scenario, in which the mobilization turned into an opposition rally against his own government.
On June 12, only a few days after the anniversary of Khomeini’s death, many observers believe that the Green Movement will organize large demonstrations throughout Tehran. According to sources, the Iranian government has already started to crack down on people by calling on 2 million paramilitary forces to station in Tehran and moral police have more frequently stopped women to enforce modesty rules.
- The difficulty of trying to reach accommodation with the Iranian regime, while “enmity toward the U.S. has become a central part of the Islamic Republic’s identity.”
- How to support human rights groups and promoters of advocacy within Iran without putting their independence in jeopardy.
Entrepreneurship Summit Explores Mutually Beneficial Partnerships
April 30th, 2010 by Josh
Fulfilling a promise first made in last year’s landmark Cairo address, the Obama administration hosted a two-day Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship earlier this week to “identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.”
President Obama delivered the keynote on Monday, stressing the critical importance of entrepreneurship as a means to:
- Create space “where we can learn from each other; where America can share our experience as a society that empowers the inventor and the innovator.”
- Lift people out of povery by creating opportunity.
- Promote mutually beneficial trade partnerships between the United States and Muslim countries.
- Leverage real, meaningful change “from the bottom up, from the grassroots, starting with the dreams and passions of single individuals serving their communities.”
Expounding upon how these principles will manifest in the form of policy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in her closing remarks that the U.S. is launching the Global Entrepreneur Program — an initiative that will help create successful entrepreneurial environments in Muslim-majority countries by enlisting the support of U.S. private sector partners and civil society groups. The initiative’s pilot program will take place in Egypt, coordinated by a “team of Entrepreneurs in Residence from USAID,” the secretary said. Over at the Washington Note, Ben Katcher
calls the summit an “excellent initiative,” one which has “the potential to broaden the United States’ relationships with Muslim-majority countries with which we have traditionally enjoyed narrowly-focused bilateral relations focused primarily on security and energy.”
Yet despite the focus on well-defined areas of particular importance, the “conspicuous absence of youth voices” somewhat marred
the event for Nathaniel Whittemore of Change.org. “If … the focus on entrepreneurship is about building the long term capacity of partner countries to thrive economically,” he says, “then it is a huge problem that the event is neglecting the voices of those who are by necessity building that long-term capacity.”
Iran: Arguing New Approaches
December 1st, 2009 by Zack
has written that the U.S. needs to develop a twin-track strategy on strategy that addresses the nuclear issue and responds to Iran’s intensifying ideological “cold war” on the country’s democrats. He relates Paula J. Dobriansky
and Christian Whiton’s sentiment that the U.S. should “use the European Union, Iran’s largest trading partner, to engage the regime while also supporting the opposition.”
argues that the recent IAEA report on Iran shows that the world is at a day of reckoning
. He argues that Iran could go nuclear at any moment and that we should prepare for a high-risk military attack from Israel, catalyzing further instability. The Financial Times
argues that the U.S. does well to keep the Geneva process open
, but the Security Council should prepare sanctions.
The NY Times
reports on a panel discussion
between Charles S. Robb
, Daniel R. Coats
, and Charles Wald,
authors of a report for the Bipartisan Policy Center. The three men stressed
a literal reading of the President Obama’s will to stop Iran’s nuclear drive and the need for the U.S. to address its credibility gap in its ability to use force. Wald and Robb disagreed on the necessity of attacking Iran, while Wald put forth the idea that should sanctions fail the U.S. will likely resort to a mixture of containment and deterrence.
argues that military and economic sanctions are extremely precarious in terms of strategy and effectiveness, instead “the most viable path for the international community remains the defence of human rights in Iran and support for the fledgling opposition movement in challenging Ahmadinejad’s presidential mandate.” Mona Charen
quotes Michael Ledeen
saying that Obama is deluding himself by “genuflecting” and reaching out to the Iranian mullahs. Instead, he should offer strong moral support to the Iranian people, who are huge consumers of international media, and destroy Iranian weapon assembly sites that supply America’s adversaries.
These arguments come as the NY Times
reports that Iran has seized
a British yacht from the Persian Gulf and are holding the crew of five, with the regime promising
firm action if they are found guilty. David Keyesexplores President Ahmadinejad
’s personal blog in which he takes a page from Yasser Arafat
by offering platitudes in English and inciting violence in Farsi.
Lastly, Inside Tehran has released its latest edition. The current issue features articles about Ahmedinejad’s declining popularity
in rural areas, Iranian efforts to suppress protests
abroad, and analysis of Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli’s
decision to resign
POMED Notes: “U.S. and Iran: Between Human Rights, Diplomacy and Sanctions”
November 5th, 2009 by Jason
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) hosted two panel discussions concerning the internal battle for human rights in Iran and American foreign policy towards Iran’s nuclear program in light of that struggle. The first panel, entitled “Internal Dynamics: Human Rights and the Battle for Iran,” included Professor Mehrzad Boroujerdi of Syracuse University, Dr. Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and Geneive Abdo of the Century Foundation. The second panel, “Assessing Obama’s Diplomacy,” was comprised of Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Greg Thielmann of the Arms Control Association, and Ambassador John Limbert. The president of NIAC, Dr. Trita Parsi, moderated the event.
To see POMED’s full notes of the event, please click here
. Or you can keep reading below the fold.
Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Elections, Events, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, NGOs, US foreign policy, US politics, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Notes - “Wrong Way on Iran: Representative Mark Kirk”
November 5th, 2009 by Zack
The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to offer his views on how the U.S. should approach Iran on the issues of human rights and democracy. Kirk is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and serves on its Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, which is responsible for determining annual U.S. foreign assistance funding. Serving his fifth term in the House of Representatives, Kirk is the co-chair of the bipartisan Iran Working Group, sponsor of bipartisan legislation condemning Iran’s human rights violations and chief architect of the plan to restrict gasoline to Iran in response to its violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The meeting was opened with an introduction from Richard Solomon, President of USIP.
See POMED’s Notes below the fold.
Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Elections, Event Notes, Events, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Reform, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
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