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22 Dec 2007 - 29 May 2012
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Multilateralism
“Quiet Diplomacy Has Not Succeeded”
December 9th, 2010 by Jason
Writing at the Arab Reform Bulletin, POMED’s former executive director Andrew Albertson​examines the Obama administration’s efforts towards promoting democracy in the Middle East. Albertson praises the administration for it’s “mulitlateral” approach and for “work[ing] with Congress to make the necessary investments in democracy assistance,” by increasing support for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. However, the administration has also fallen short in several areas. The pursuit of human rights and reform through “disconnected bureaucratic pathways” has led to a “struggle to integrate serious, long-term thinking about development into interagency policy planning.” Also, the president’s rhetoric has “at times seemed disconnected from the bureaucratic machinery necessary to back up words with action.” Ultimately, the Obama administration needs to “demonstrate stronger linkages between its rhetoric on human rights and political reform on the one hand, and policy consequences on the other.”
Posted in Civil Society, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Human Rights, Multilateralism​, Reform, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
How Arab Regimes Resist Democracy
August 25th, 2010 by Farid
In a recent piece published by the Carnegie Endowment, Amr Hamzawy writes that the lack of reform and democratization in the Arab world is due to increased and extensive security spending by Arab governments, as well as to regimes’ efforts to discourage reform by warning citizens that change would “threaten order and stability and unleash chaos.” Additionally, Hamzawy points out that opposition leaders have consistently failed to deliver a substantive message of tangible change, while Islamist groups remain more interested in enhancing their “ideological and religious agenda” than in improving people’s lives. Lastly, Hamzawy argues that the small group of Arab elites who dominate these regimes has formed a bond based on “common interests,” limiting the emergence of internal conflicts that would threaten the status quo. In conclusion, Hamzawy suggests that the U.S. and its European allies should push for democratization in the Middle East, asserting that “democracy is the only sustained path for development, moderation, and peace.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Islamist movements, Multilateralism​, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Transatlantic Dialogue– Strengthening Cooperation on Democracy Support”
June 30th, 2010 by Jennifer
The National Press Club held a conference yesterday to discuss the transatlantic relationship between the United States and Europe in the effort to provide democracy assistance to the rest of the world. The discussion, moderated by Katty Kay of BBC World News America, featured five speakers: Madeleine K. Albright, former Secretary of State and current National Democratic Institute (NDI) Chairwoman​; Jerzy Buzek, President of European Parliament and former Polish Prime Minister; Vin Weber, former Congressman and former Chairman for the National Endowment for Democracy; Maria Leissner, Sweden’s ambassador for democracy; and Ana Palacio, former Foreign Minister of Spain. Other organizations contributed to the discussion as well, including the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
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Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Human Rights, Multilateralism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Iran: The Year of Reckoning”
June 4th, 2010 by Josh
Earlier today, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted an event to explore the last year of Iranian politics and U.S. diplomacy toward the Iranian regime. There were two panels of experts, each highlighting a different component of either geopolitics or internal Iranian social forces. The first, moderated by professor Shaul Bakhash of George Mason University, included: Michael Postl, former Ambassador of the Austrian Republic to Iran; and Nicholas Burns, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and current professor at Harvard. The second panel, moderated by professor Kaveh Ehsani from DePaul University, included: Farideh Farhi, independent scholar and affiliate graduate faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Suzanne Malone, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
Click here for POMED’s notes in PDF, or continue reading below the fold.
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Posted in DC Event Notes, Diplomacy, Elections, Freedom, Iran, Multilateralism​, Reform, Terrorism, US foreign policy, United Nations, sanctions | 1 Comment »
Is the NSS Light on Human Rights?
June 1st, 2010 by Josh
After reading through the administration’s freshly minted National Security Strategy, Jackson Diehl observes that President Obama makes no effort to associate international engagement with combating tyranny or promoting democracy. “Obama has already demonstrated that he does not accept Bush’s conclusion that the promotion of democracy and human rights is inseparable from the tasks of defeating al-Qaeda and establishing a workable international order,” he writes. “But nowhere in his 52-page doctrine is there a coherent explanation of why.” Jennifer Rubin of Commentary agrees, and argues that this is in part of a function of Obama’s “infatuation with the international community, multilateralism, and consensus.”
But Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara​notes that, like Presidents Clinton and Bush before him, Obama emphasizes the need to comprehensively “promote democracy and human rights abroad.” The difference, however, might lie in the implementation of such goals, and the Economist​proclaims that the NSS in fact signals a return to an era of greater realpolitik. “The Obama doctrine is not only less ambitious than his predecessor’s but arguably less idealistic … Under Mr Obama the neocon notion of spreading democracy by force has gone.” Instead, the new strategy indicates that America “will seek ‘principled engagement’ with non-democratic regimes.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, Multilateralism​, Neocons, US foreign policy | Comment »
Obama Administration Releases its National Security Strategy
May 27th, 2010 by Chanan
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled this afternoon the Obama administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS), a 52 pg. report covering a wide range of issues facing the U.S. from the state of the economy to the challenges of domestic terrorism.
The NY TimesDavid Sanger and Peter Baker point out that this NSS stands in stark contrast to Bush’s 2002 NSS on a number of fronts, including on the right to preemptive strikes, the use of unilateral force and the acknowledgment of burgeoning rival powers. They explain: “Much of the National Security Strategy, which is required by Congress, reads as an argument for a restoration of an older order of reliance on international institutions, updated to confront modern threats.” Newsweek​’s Michael Hirsh, however, appears to offer a different interpretation in a blog post entitled, “Obama’s National Security Strategy: Not So Different From Bush’s.” He argues that “it is unmistakable that there are far more similarities than differences between the two National Security Strategies, though each of them marks the advent of an era that is supposedly as distinct from the other as any two periods in U.S. history.”
The report also devotes a section to the importance of promoting democracy and human rights abroad. It tackles numerous elements of this ideal, including the support of women’s rights, recognition of peaceful democratic movements and practicing “principled engagement” with non-democratic regimes. In an apparent dig at Iran, the Obama administration writes that “when our overtures are rebuffed, we must lead the international community in using public and private diplomacy, and drawing on incentives and
disincentives, in an effort to change repressive behavior.”
Foreign Policy’s Will Inboden​thinks the report - especially this section - is lacking in substance and grit. “While the NSS rightfully devotes more rhetorical attention to the promotion of human rights and democracy, it unfortunately puts too much emphasis on the U.S. example alone…,” he argues. “What they [international reformers] want is active American advocacy and support — even when that support might cause friction in diplomatic engagement with their own governments.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Multilateralism​, Reform, US foreign policy, Uncategorized​, Women | 2 Comments »
POMED Notes: “One Year After Cairo: Has U.S. Engagement Improved the Prospects for Reform in the Arab World?”
May 26th, 2010 by Josh
Earlier today, Freedom House and the Project on Middle East Democracy co-hosted an event at the Capitol Visitor Center to explore the effects of President Obama’s new approach to the Arab World, the current challenges for democracy and human rights in the region, and the prospects for changes in U.S. policy to bring about a lasting impact. Tamara Wittes, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, provided remarks on how the president’s Cairo speech has shaped the last year of Middle East policy. Deputy Director of Freedom House Thomas. O Melia then moderated a group of 3 panelists: Dina Guirguis, Research Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Andrew Albertson, Executive Director of POMED; and Stephen Grand, Director of the U.S. Relations with the Islamic World project at the Brookings Institution.
Click here for POMED’s notes in PDF, or continue reading below the fold.
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Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Multilateralism​, Political Parties, Reform, US foreign policy, Women, Yemen | 2 Comments »
Obama’s West Point Speech: A Preview of the National Security Strategy?
May 24th, 2010 by Chanan
Several days after President Obama’s commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, pundits from across the political spectrum painted the speech as a preview for the U.S. National Security Strategy, which will be unveiled later this week. According to a piece of analysis by the New York TimesPeter Baker, such a strategy will include four main overarching principles: “to build strength abroad by building strength at home through education, clean energy and innovation; to promote “the renewed engagement of our diplomats” and support international development; to rebuild alliances; and to promote human rights and democracy abroad.”
Baker also characterized the speech as a public break with the Bush administration’s “emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage pre-emptive war.” Foreign Policy’s Will Inboden, however, thinks that Baker “overshoots” in his analysis. This speech, according to Inboden, actually reflected a structural continuation of the previous administration’s foreign policy. For example, “After spending much of his first year in office downplaying if not ignoring democracy and human rights promotion, he is now making democracy and human rights promotion one of the four pillars of his national security strategy.” In short, based on a variety of different factors “the President Obama of today acts and sounds considerably different than the one elected in November 2008.”
Nonetheless, the National Review’s Arthur Herman takes issue with Obama’s speech for two reasons: one, Obama appears to be sacrificing American military power for American diplomacy and multilateral institutions. Second, unlike other former presidents that advocated visions of a new world order following foreign policy successes (such as WWI and WWII), this president is “pushing his new multilateral “international order” hot on the heels of two important failures — in Iran and North Korea.” The Atlantic’s James Fallows sees the historical comparisons quite differently. He sees strong similarities with President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address in 1960, where he advocated the importance of disarmament and diplomacy. In this respect, Fallows believed that Obama’s address “is a return to the best and most sustainable tradition of post-World War II American foreign policy.” He also, for the record, equates Obama’s governing ideology with “the intellectual father Obama doesn’t talk about” — Jimmy Carter.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Multilateralism​, US foreign policy, US politics, Uncategorized | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Promoting Security through Diplomacy and Development: The Fiscal Year 2011 International Affairs”
February 26th, 2010 by Josh
In a hearing on the administration’s recently released budget request, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs invited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give testimony on particular budgetary items relating to U.S. diplomatic and development efforts abroad. Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) opened the hearing with an affirmation of the value of investing in international diplomacy; not only to promote American values, but also as a method of prevention in order to mitigate the forces that cause international instability. Berman pledged to work with his colleagues to maintain or even increase the overall level of funding – approximately 1 percent of the entire Fiscal Year 2011 federal budget request – but ranking Republican committee member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) disagreed, using the poor economic environment as the basis to call for “selective freezes.” In particular, she questioned the wisdom of unconditionally funding the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), both of which she accuses of stealing hundreds of millions in foreign aid.
Click here for POMED’s notes in PDF, or continue reading below.
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Posted in Afghanistan, Congressional Hearing Notes (House), Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Elections, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Hamas, Hezbollah, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Multilateralism​, Palestine, Protests, Sudan, Syria, US foreign policy, Western Sahara, Yemen, sanctions | 1 Comment »
POMED Notes: “America and the Iranian Political Reform Movement: First, do No Harm”
February 3rd, 2010 by Josh
The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing to address the prospects of developing U.S. policy tools that will avoid harming Iran’s opposition movement. Four witnesses provided expert testimony: Geneive Abdo, Director of the Iran Program at The Century Foundation; Mehdi Khalaji, Senior Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Fariborz Ghadar, Distinguished Scholar and Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and J. Scott Carpenter, Keston Family Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
For POMED’s notes in PDF, click here. Otherwise, continue below the fold.
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Posted in Congressional Hearing Notes (House), DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Islam and Democracy, Multilateralism​, Protests, Reform, Technology, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Elevating Human Rights on the U.S. Policy Agenda for Iran”
February 1st, 2010 by Josh
The Center for American Progress hosted an event to explore the efficacy of various U.S. foreign policy tools toward addressing human rights in Iran. The massive street protests following Iran’s presidential election of June 2009 highlighted Iranians’ disapproval of their ruling regime. Continuing protests during subsequent Iranian holidays and observances have showed that Iran’s opposition movement remains vital, and also signaled that Tehran’s grip on power may be somewhat vulnerable if the international community steadfastly supports Iranians’ basic rights. Though the administration has not ignored human rights in Iran, the issue remains an underutilized lever of American foreign policy. With large demonstrations expected during the February 11 anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution, likely to be followed by another government crackdown, the event’s participants examined the policy options currently being debated by the administration, and discussed ways to effectively harness human rights promotion to pressure on the Iranian regime.
For POMED’s notes in PDF, click here. Otherwise, continue reading below the fold.
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Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Iran, Islam and Democracy, Multilateralism​, Political Islam, Reform, Secularism, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Report: “Strategies for Engaging Political Islam”
January 29th, 2010 by Josh
Political Islam is the single most active political force in the Middle East today. To offer insights into this critical issue, the Project on Middle East Democracy partnered with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung to bring together scholars and experts from the Middle East, the United States, and Europe. Moderated by Nathan Brown, Director of George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, guests discussed the topic “Strategies for Engaging Political Islam: A Middle East, U.S. and EU ‘Trialogue.’” Panelists included Ruheil Gharaibeh​, Deputy Secretary-General of Jordan’s IAF; Mona Yacoubian​, Special Adviser to the Muslim World Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace; Zoé Nautré, Visiting Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations; and Shadi Hamid, former research director and current vice-chair of POMED’s Board of Directors, and also currently the Deputy Director of the Brookings Doha Center.
To read the full report, which draws upon the participants’ observations and recommendations, click here. Otherwise, continue reading below the fold.
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Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Elections, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Multilateralism​, Muslim Brotherhood, Political Islam, Reform, Reports, US foreign policy | Comment »
Afghanistan: The London Conference Begins
January 28th, 2010 by Josh
The much anticipated London Conference got underway this morning, with delegations from more than 60 countries gathering to tackle issues of Afghan security, governance and development, and regional support.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown opened with remarks on the collaborative effort to bring Afghanistan greater stability and prosperity. To perhaps assuage concerns over the recent rise in troop levels, Brown affirmed that “the increase in our military efforts must be matched with governance and economic development — a political and civilian surge to match and complement the current military surge.” Along those lines, he announced an initiative to train “12,000 sub-national civil servants in core administrative functions in support of provincial and district governorships by the end of 2011.” He further noted significant increases in British and German foreign aid directed toward Afghan agriculture development and infrastructure.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai​hailed the conference as an opportunity to develop an “Afghan‑led, Afghan‑owned initiative” that ensures peace and stability in Afghanistan. To achieve that goal, he advocated a six-point framework: 1) peace, reconciliation and reintegration; 2) security; 3) good governance; 4) fight against corruption; 5) economic development; and 6) regional cooperation.
Among the agreed-upon conference outcomes were: Targets for significant increases in the Afghan Army and Police Force supported by the international community; the establishment of an independent Office of High Oversight and an independent Monitoring and Evaluation Mission to tackle corruption; a civilian surge to match the military surge; and an enhanced sub-national government to improve delivery of basic services to all Afghans.
A full and comprehensive summary of the day’s discussions can be found here.
Posted in Afghanistan, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Multilateralism​, Taliban | Comment »
Iran: New Opposition to Sanctions, More Pushback on Haass
January 27th, 2010 by Josh
Laura Rozen of Politico catches an interesting development in the ongoing debate over the Iran sanctions bill. Leery of the legislation’s current construction, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers and the National Foreign Trade Council sent a joint letter[PDF] to National Security Advisor Jim Jones and National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers voicing opposition to the bill. The letter decries the “unilateral, extraterritorial, and overly broad approach” of the proposed sanctions which would “undercut rather than advance [the] critical objective.” Rozen points out that these groups also seek a greater degree of presidential discretion as part of any legislation — a point which the administration has itself been quietly pushing in negotiations with congress.
Elsewhere in Iranian policy, Richard Haass’ Newsweek​column continues to ignite a firestorm of debate. Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett issue a response on their blog, The Race for Iran, pointing to Haass’ role in formulating policy toward Iraq in the months leading up to the U.S. invasion in 2003. They see eerie similarities between Haass’ erstwhile pronouncements (via then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, whom Haass helped to advise) of “enough” with respect to Iraq and his rhetoric toward Iran today. Highlighting the sizable disconnect between Haass’ level of certainty about Iranian politics and his relative lack of factual evidence in support of those judgments, the Leveretts fear that the recent Newsweek piece “is likely to do real damage to American interests in Iran and the Middle East more broadly.” They issue an ominous warning that following Haass’ advice will put the United States on a “similarly misguided and counterproductive policy course” to that of Iraq seven years ago.
Posted in Diplomacy, Human Rights, Iran, Multilateralism​, US foreign policy, sanctions | 1 Comment »
Iran: Gasoline Sanctions Counterproductive?
December 17th, 2009 by Jason
Debate still continues over the House passage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA). Jeff Bergner argues the U.S.  must “compel” Iran to negotiate through some combination of a naval embargo, targeted military action, a free leash for Israel, or crippling sanctions.
However, Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution argues against IRPSA. Instead, if the U.S. imposes enhanced sanctions, it must delineate clear and limited objectives, continue negotiations while imposing sanctions, seek international consensus, focus on direct and immediate costs, and target those responsible for human rights abuses, not the Iranian people.
Matt Duss agrees with Maloney, calling IRPSA not only “ineffective” but “counterproductive” as well. It offers “Iran’s hardliners a powerful propaganda lifeline, and would likely facilitate greater regime consolidation right at the moment that the conservative consensus around Ahmadinejad is starting to crack up.” Therefore it’s no wonder why the Green movement is against IRPSA and the administration is attempting to “put the brakes” on the Senate version.
Meanwhile, Eric Anderson urges to apply some “​pragmatism to engaging with Iran” and realize that there is little the U.S. can do to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon.  But Roger Cohen contends there is a lot the Iranian people can do. Therefore, when he is asked “where the ’stick’ is in Iran, [his] response is the stick is Iranian society - the bubbling reformist pressure now rising up from Iran’s highly educated youth and brave women.” Therefore, Cohen argues “the time has come to do nothing in Iran.”
Much of the push for enhanced sanctions stems from Iran’s failure to negotiate in good faith. Ray Takeyh in the Boston Globe explains how Ayatollah Khamenei created a new committee to oversee foreign affairs, comprised by members of Khamenei’s staff, the intelligence community and the head of the Revolutionary Guards. Takeyh argues it was this committee formed in October that scuttled the nuclear deal, not external dissent from opposition leaders and the Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.
Babylon and Beyond offers further detail on the new trend of Iranian men posing in pictures wearing the veil out of solidarity with Majid Tavakoli, a student leader arrested for his activism. niacINsight reports that the government’s head of university affairs approximates 70 percent of university students oppose Ahmadinejad and has called for a stronger response against students and professors who are purportedly “weakening the regime.”
AFP reports that Iran’s judiciary also warned opposition leaders that it has accumulated enough evidence to try them, comparing them to “the regime’s most despised enemy, the People’s Mujahedeen.” Iason Athanasiadis observes that while the abuses of Evin Prison are well known, Iranians truly fear the “string of hidden detention sites” throughout Tehran.
Finally, niacINsight expresses its disappointment with Time Magazine over its decision to not include the Iranian people on their shortlist for Person of the Year, even though balloting showed greater support for the Iranian people compared to the second and third choices combined.
Posted in Congress, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Legislation, Military, Multilateralism​, Oil, Protests, US foreign policy, US politics, Women, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: House Passes Gasoline Sanctions
December 16th, 2009 by Jason
As expected, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194passed overwhelmingly in the House, with 412 voting for, 12 against, and 4 present.  Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) explained she hopes to “impose sanctions so painful that they should threaten the Iranian regime’s survival.” The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Cali.), emphasized how “Iran has had ample time to respond positively to President Obama’s generous engagement offer. Regrettably, the response has been only one of contempt.”
But there was congressional opposition to the bill as well. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) lamented how “we’re telling the Iranian people, ‘we have feelings of friendship for you. We like you so much, but we’re going to cut off your home heating oil.” Additionally, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) expressed his “strongest opposition” to this bill that represents “another significant step” towards war. Paul argued argued that history shows “it is citizens rather than governments who suffer most” under sanctions, which have been proven to only “strengthen regimes they target and marginalize any opposition.”
Laura Rozen reports the administration is “quietly working” to make modifications to the Senate version. Two issues being discussed are whether the sanctions would alienate America’s partners and whether the sanctions will be mandatory or allow the President to exercise discretion in their implementation. Under the House version, the president must seek a waiver in every case the sanctions would not be imposed.
In response to a letter sent by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stating that the sanctions legislation “might weaken rather than strengthen international unity and support for our efforts,” Jennifer Rubin calls the administration “a crowd that’s allergic to leverage.”
Rozen also reports that the State Department has asked the Treasury Department to allow Iranians to download free mass market software that enhances their ability to communicate. In response, NIAC President Trita Parsi lauded the decision that makes sure “the policies of the U.S. government don’t unintentionally aid the Iranian government’s efforts to silence its people.”
In a likely response to the legislation, Iran has test-fired an improved Sejil 2 solid-fuel missile, which has a range capable of striking Israel and U.S. bases throughout the region. Meanwhile, Tehran Bureau reports that the Iran’s Prosecutor General has confirmed the rape of opposition members in prison but rejected the involvement of prison guards. In addition, hundreds of of pro-govenrment and pro-opposition students held rival rallies in Tehran yesterday.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Saeedi has resigned as deputy director of Iran’s atomic energy body. Meir Javedanfar suggests the resignation may indicate infighting within the regime over nuclear negotiations. The regime also seems split over what to do with Mir Hossein Moussavi and other opposition leaders. Mea Cyrus at Tehran Bureau observes “the Islamic Republic of Iran is so fed up with post-election protests that it is willing to adopt extreme measures to bring them to an end,” even if it means imprisoning or assassinating opposition leaders like Moussavi.
Masoud Golsorkhi explains how the regime’s efforts to discredit Majid Tavakoli have backfired because they have failed to understand that the green movement is “a post-modern, post-ideological civic movement” where women are at the “forefront.” Finally, Omid Memarian argues the opposition have “entered a new phase” in protesting the Islamic regime itself, and not just the contested elections.
Posted in Congress, Diplomacy, Iran, Legislation, Military, Multilateralism​, Oil, Protests, Technology, US foreign policy, US politics, sanctions | Comment »
Afghanistan: Delayed Troop Deployment
December 15th, 2009 by Jason
The Christian Science Monitor reports that all 30,000 troops of the Afghan surge will not finish deploying until November, several months after the initially announced timeline.  President Obama is expected to conduct an evaluation of the new Afghan strategy that December, leaving only a month for the surge to take full effect.
In an op ed for the Telegraph, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia explains why his country has decided to send nearly 1,000 troops to Afghanistan, although it is not yet a NATO member. As a nascent democracy that has had success battling corruption, Georgia has a lot of relevant experience to offer in Afghanistan, argues Saakashvili.
George McGovern asks “why do we send young Americans to risk life and limb on behalf of such worthless regimes?” Finally, Juan Cole highlights the increasing militarization of aid in Afghanistan.
Posted in Afghanistan, Foreign Aid, Military, Multilateralism​, Taliban, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
Secretary Clinton: Major Human Rights Speech at Georgetown
December 14th, 2009 by Jason
Secretary Clinton delivered an important address (PDF transcript) on the Obama administration’s approach to human rights today at Georgetown University.
Reinforcing the message of President Obama’s Nobel speech, Clinton affirmed “the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not only the source of our strength and endurance, they are the birthright of every woman, man, and child on earth.” As such, Clinton defined America’s mission as “expanding the circle of rights and opportunities to all people - advancing their freedoms and possibilities.”
Furthermore, a just society must not only respect civil and political freedoms, but also protect its citizens from the “oppression of want - want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and fact.” In fact, “democracies that deliver on rights, opportunities, and development for their people are stable, strong, and most likely to enable people to live up to their potential.” As such, Clinton asserted “supporting democracy and fostering development are cornerstones of our 21st century human rights agenda.”
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Posted in Afghanistan, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, EU, Egypt, Foreign Aid, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Journalism, Judiciary, Multilateralism​, NGOs, Technology, US foreign policy, Uncategorized​, United Nations, Women | 3 Comments »
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.”
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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 »
Nobel: Obama’s Speech and Reaction
December 12th, 2009 by Jason
President Obama accepted his Nobel Peace Prize yesterday in Oslo, Norway. In his acceptance speech (full text), Obama affirmed that the award “speaks to our highest aspirations - that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.” Throughout the speech, Obama balanced the tension between the aspiration for peace and the necessity of war.
President Obama reminded the audience that America’s historical leadership in “constructing an architecture to keep the peace” that has advanced “the ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law.” Through the sacrifice and service of its citizens, the United States has promoted peace, prosperity and democracy “not because we seek to impose our will” but out of “enlightened self-interest, because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.”
Elaborating further, President Obama explained that peace is not simply a lack of conflict, but rather it must “based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual.” Therefore, President Obama promised that “even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice of those aspirations that are universal.” Because that voice sometimes must be delivered directly to authoritarian regimes, Obama rejected “sanctions without outreach, and condemnation without discussion [that] can carry forward a crippling status quo.” As such, the world “must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.”
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Posted in Afghanistan, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, EU, Freedom, Human Rights, Military, Multilateralism​, Neocons, Terrorism, US foreign policy, US politics, al-Qaeda, sanctions | Comment »
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