Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Political Parties
Lebanon: Hariri To Join Opposition, Commemorates Father’s Assassination
February 14th, 2011 by Alec
In a speech on Monday commemorating the 6th anniversary of his father’s (former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri) assassination, outgoing PM Saad Hariri announced that his party would be joining the opposition. He also directly challenged Hezbollah, accusing the group of having used the threat of violence to assume power: “Those who are in the leadership position now used their weapons to get there. So good for them. Congratulations on the stolen position.” Hariri spoke to a crowd of about 6,000 people.
U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton
, released a statement
calling Rafik Hariri a symbol for Lebanon: “He transcended sect and stood with the people of Lebanon, giving hope to his country after 15 years of ruinous civil war.” The statement also called on the new Lebanese government to honor its obligations to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and promote justice for the Lebanese people: “Those who would try to block Lebanon’s cooperation should desist and show a measure of human decency. Ultimately, without justice, there can be no peace and stability for Lebanon.”
Tunisia: Ben Ali’s Party Banned As Interim PM Receives Emergency Powers
February 7th, 2011 by Alec
The new Tunisian Interior Minister, Farhat Rahji
ousted President Zine Ben Ali’s former party, the Constitutional Democratic Assembly (RCD), to close its offices and cease all activities. Rahji has been viewed as a “zealous advocate” of forcing regime loyalists from power. The order is viewed as a first step to fully dissolving the party which is viewed as an impediment to reform. Meanwhile, legislation was introduced
into the lower house of parliament to give interim President Foued Mebazaa emergency powers allowing him to rule by decree, thereby sidestepping the RCD dominated legislative body. Rachid Ghannouchi
, leader of the Islamist Ennahda party, has said that the group is being shut out of the interim government. Ghannouchi called for a more inclusive cabinet and the dismantling of the police state. He also stated that Tunisia should adopt the parliamentary system of government in order to ensure that power is not concentrated into a singular head of state and government.
Obama and Nawara Call For Transition, True Recognition of Protest Movement
February 7th, 2011 by Naureen
On Friday, President Barack Obama condemned
attacks on journalists and called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to lead an effective transition based on substantive negotiations with the opposition and reform. Wael Nawara
, an Egyptian activist and founder of the opposition party Al-Ghad, also called for a transition period to begin immediately and for opposition groups to sustain the movement with minimal damage to the Egyptian people. Thus far, Nawara states, Vice President Omar Suleiman “is meeting with opposition parties which are loyal to the regime. So, it’s like being not a dialogue. This is kind of a monologue, because he is kind of speaking to himself. He really now needs to recognize that protest — the protest movement, which [represents] many groups.”
Yemen’s Fate Will Not Be Decided In The Streets
February 4th, 2011 by Alec
Writing at The Guardian’s
Comment is free, Jeb Boone argues that talk of revolution in Yemen is exaggerated and unrealistic. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in order to counter revolutionary sentiments, has already announced this will be his last term (to end in 2013) and that his son will not assume power, the two main demands of the opposition. Boone also notes that the protests in Yemen are being led by the political opposition bloc JMP (Joint Meeting Parties) and that the ordinary citizens of Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest, are aware of the political games “being played by both sides.” Pro-government protesters equaled the number of anti-government protesters (only 10,000 attending) on Thursday which fizzled by noon: “In Yemen, regime change takes a break for the weekend.” Boone argues that Saleh will probably look to solidify his legacy by placating the opposition further, as well as take less harsh measures on Houthi rebels in the north and secessionists in the south. Such actions may incidentally buttress the ruling GPC party’s claim to the Presidency. He ends by stating that both the JMP and the Islamist Islah Party may try to contest elections in 2013, with Islamist chances of defeating the ruling GPC party high as long as the GPC does not stuff the ballot box as it has been apt to do in the past.
Egypt: Official Opposition Ready to Negotiate With Regime
February 2nd, 2011 by Alec
Egypt’s official opposition parties said on Wednesday that they were ready to negotiate with the regime in light of Hosni Mubarak’s speech last night. The parties involved are the Wafd, Taggamu, and Nasserist parties. A joint statement from the three parties stated that they are entering negotiations with the government to provide safety, security, and stability of the nation and its people. They also said they would withdraw from negotiations if the protesters in Tahrir Square were harmed.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the National Association for Change, and other protests groups plan on sticking to their refusal to negotiate until Mubarak steps down. Some independent writers and businessmen have called for Mubarak to delegate all of his authority to his new Vice-President Omar Suleiman and for Mubarak to serve as a “ceremonial” leader during a transition. They also called for the lifting of the emergency law.
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
Tunisia: Leader of Formerly Banned Islamist Movement Returns
January 31st, 2011 by Alec
, leader of the Ennahda movement, previously banned under the Ben Ali regime for being Islamist, returned to Tunisia on Sunday from London. He stated that his movement would help build Tunisian democracy but has ruled out running for elected office himself. Ghannouchi also insisted
that his portrayal in Western media as another “Khomeini” were untrue and that his movement was committed to protecting women’s rights. Prior to his arrival on Sunday, women’s groups in Tunisia protested in the capital of Tunis saying they were worried about an Islamist revival in the country. In an interview prior to his return, Ghannouchi said
the revolt in Tunisia against Zine Ben Ali
was a popular revolution and not an Islamist one.
POMED Notes: “Tunisia: Protests and Prospects for Change”
January 27th, 2011 by Kyle
On Tuesday, the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Institute for Middle East Studies at The George Washington University hosted an event focused on reactions to the popular uprising in Tunisia entitled , “Tunisia: Protests and Prospects for Change.” Marc Lynch, associate professor of political science and international affairs at The George Washington University, and director of the Institute for Middle East Studies moderated the event. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. The two other speakers were Christopher Alexander, Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean for International Programs at Davidson College and John P. Entelis, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at Fordham University.
To read full notes continue below, or click here
Lebanon: Hezbollah Nominates Candidate for PM, Calls for Protests From Hariri Supporters
January 24th, 2011 by Alec
The militant group Hezbollah has won backing
from a majority of Lebanese MPs after Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and six other members of his Progressive Socialist Party switched their allegiance from Saad Hariri
and the March 14th movement. The group nominated Najib Mikati, a former billionaire businessman and Prime Minister, with support from 65 of the 128 members of the Lebanese Parliament. A Hezbollah-dominated government may signal a realignment of Lebanon away from the United States and would likely denounce forthcoming indictments from the STL. Hariri supporters have accused Hezbollah of launching a coup and have called for “day of anger” protests on Tuesday. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley stated that a Hezbollah-controlled government would complicate ties between the two countries and it would be difficult for the U.S. to continue to assist Lebanon.
Lebanon: Renewed Attempts to Mitigate Tension Amidst Crisis
January 19th, 2011 by Kyle
Following the release of sealed indictments by the United Nations Tribunal and the collapse of the Lebanese Government, Saudi King Abdullah
has declared an end to the Saudi-Syrian initiative due to lack of progress. However, the Turkish and Qatari Foreign Ministers, Ahmet Davutoglu
and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, respectively, are attempting to mitigate tension by meeting with Hezbollah and other high-ranking officials in the Lebanese Government. Fears of potential Hezbollah actions in response to the indictments and renewed sectarian violence remain rife. The group conducted a show of force that began early Tuesday in which Hezbollah members silenty patrolled the streets of Beirut in black uniforms, causing fear and panic among city residents. The US State Department responded
to recent events stating: “We do have ongoing concerns that various elements within Lebanon – both inside Lebanon and outside Lebanon – will continue to try to politicize this process.”
Posted in Civil Society, Diplomacy, Hezbollah, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Lebanon, Political Islam, Political Parties, Protests, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Nations | Comment »
Lebanon: Government Collapses With Hezbollah Walkout
January 12th, 2011 by Alec
As Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met
with President Barack Obama today in Washington, Hezbollah resigned from the government in protest of the U.N. tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hariri, however, pledged to continue efforts to resolve the political crisis despite the apparent collapse of the recent Saudi-Syrian initiative to break the political deadlock. Elias Muhanna
, writing at Qifa Nabki, suggested that the walkout might have been planned well in advance and stated: “all they’ve done is ensure that when the indictments do become public, there will almost certainly be no Lebanese government in place to formally denounce them.” Elliott Abramsclaimed that the resignation is another way for Hezbollah to hold the nation hostage with support from Syria and Iran.
Egypt: Internal Dialogue Needed for Reform
January 11th, 2011 by Naureen
, writing at Babylon and Beyond, argues
that despite President Hosni Mubarak acknowledging some violations in recent elections, he has failed to acknowledge the tactics behind the NDP’s success, which have hurt the legitimacy of the regime. ”It is time for the government to let openness toward the opposition override its conceit. It is also time for the opposition to agree on a national agenda that favors dialogue with the government and can form the basis for needed constitutional and political reforms. Both sides must act before Egypt’s next major campaign — the presidential election later this year.”
International calls for political reform have not been favorably received. Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki stated, “We value our friendship with many players around the world including the United States, but we cannot allow any country to dictate to us what it wants us to do or not do. Political, economic and social reform has to be done in a way that preserves stability and the fabric of society. It’s the government’s responsibility to see it happens this way.”
Tunisia: Violent Unrest Continues
January 11th, 2011 by Kyle
In response to continued riots, the Tunisian government has closed all schools and universities indefinitely in an attempt to quell the unrest. Maya Jreibi, a leader of the opposition Progressive Democratic party demanded, “The president should order an end to the firing on protesters, a fight against corruption and a political opening. Two decades of frustration have led to this explosion.” The US State Department recently summoned the Tunisian Ambassador to Washington to express concerns over protests and recent events in Tunisia, and released a statement: “We, again, affirmed our concerns not only about the ongoing violence, the importance of respecting freedom of expression, but also the importance of the availability of information.”
Sudan: Referendum Overshadows Internal Problems in North
January 6th, 2011 by Alec
Andrew Natsios, former Special Envoy to Sudan for the Bush administration, argues internal divisions and pressures in Northern Sudan are being overlooked. He points to growing criticism of President Omar al-Bashir’s government from “Islamist and Arab nationalists” who lament the potential loss of oil resources to an independent South and fear that other rebellious regions will seek to break with the North as well.
Sudanese opposition leaders have threatened to topple Bashir’s government if their demands of political reform are not met. Faruq Abu Issa, coordinator of the National Consensus Forces, has called on the government to hold a “national constitutional conference to create a new democratic constitution” in addition to addressing Darfur, public freedom laws and rising prices of vital commodities. Other opposition party leaders are worried about the potential implications the referendum will have on the North’s territorial integrity and economy.
Egypt: “Rigging With a Hint of Elections”
December 29th, 2010 by Jason
In a new article at Middle East Report Online, Mona El-Ghobashy
details the numerous flaws in Egypt’s recent parliamentary elections saying that they “defied expectations, not because the ruling National Democratic Party again dominates Parliament but because of the lengths to which it proved willing to go to engineer its monopoly.” The elections came at a time of “aggressive economic transformation,” and “intense public anger about corruption scandals involving figures at the peak of the regime,” forcing the regime to rely on its “tool kit of electoral skullduggery.” El-Ghobashy acknowledges that the regime’s desire to “stage manage” the upcoming presidential election was a factor in the heavy handed way in which it went about ensuring overwhelming victory for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), but she adds that a desire on the part of the NDP to set up a “legal framework” that prepares “public assets for delivery into private hands,” was also a driving factor.
Iraq: New Government “Good Basis for Setting Out”
December 28th, 2010 by Jason
In a recent interview
with the Council on Foreign Relations, Joost Hiltermann calls the new Iraqi government “a good basis for setting out,” while also expressing concern about the power-sharing agreement. Hiltermann says the newly established National Council for Strategic Policy has yet to be fully defined, and that it remains to be seen whether “Allawi
feels that it satisfies his earlier demands for having a real check against Maliki’s power as prime minister.” Hiltermann goes on to address how Iraq’s various factions, including the Kurds and the Sadrists, are affected by the power-sharing deal, and says that the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2011 is “definitely on track.”
Egypt: Opposition Fails to Represent Rural, Poor Voters
December 28th, 2010 by Evan
At The Guardian
’s Comment is Free, Roberto Roccu describes the failure of Egypt’s established opposition to connect with workers and rural voters. The highly visible campaign led by Mohamed ElBaradei and the active Egyptian blogosphere have given many observers a distorted view of the potential for change in Egypt, according to Roccu. The “institutional opposition” focuses too much on the urban elites and fails to incorporate the “movements arising from the lower social strata,” ultimately limiting its ability to push for reform.
Egypt: NDP Convention Focuses on Economics
December 27th, 2010 by Evan
Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) held its seventh annual conference in Cairo last weekend. Party luminaries including President Hosni Mubarak
, his son and NDP Policy Committee Chairman Gamal Mubarak, and NDP Secretary for Organizational Affairs Ahmed Ezz
delivered remarks to the assembled party members. In his speech, President Mubarak hailed Egypt’s economic growth, while acknowledging that many working-class Egyptians have yet to see their quality of life improve. The success of a political party depends on how well it responds to constituents’ demands, Mubarak reminded the delegates. The President also praised “junior party members” for their attempts to reform NDP’s internal party structures.
Gamal Mubarak explained, “the political activities and actions of the NDP are working at the local level, to the benefit of the villages, the families and the hard-working people of Egypt. Their needs are for more jobs, better schools, improved healthcare and greater access to basic infrastructure — and that is what our party is working to provide.” Gamal also called for a “second wave” of economic reforms to be implemented quickly. And Ezz defended the government’s economic reforms: “I cannot claim that we have achieved all our aspirations. I cannot say that we could not have done better. But this does not rule out the fact that we made remarkable achievements over the last years.”
Iraq: Government Finally Seated…Now What?
December 22nd, 2010 by Jason
With the Iraqi government finally in place, commentators and average Iraqis are beginning to take stock of the nine-month process and look toward the future. Liz Sly
, writing in The Washington Post
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the claims that he may be “another Iraqi strongman in the making,” noting that his critics say he has an “authoritarian streak.” Sean Kane
of the United States Institute of Peace argues at The Middle East Channel that “Iraq’s Parliament now offers the best hope for political change and progress towards the consolidation of Iraq’s fledgling democracy.” Kane goes on to say that the new found power of Speaker Osama Najafi
of Iraqiyya and his First Deputy Qusayal-Suhail, a leading member of the Sadrist coalition, is “noteworthy and represents an opportunity,” for the parliament to exert itself more prominently into Iraqi politics.
Meanwhile, the BBC
and The New York Times
blog At War both provide perspectives from average Iraqis. One young man from Baghdad told the BBC that the new government “‘is like running a car with cooking oil.’” And a man in Najaf told At War “‘The same people who were against the government and attempting to weaken it by all means portrayed themselves as trouble solvers. […] Now they are part of it. Let’s see what they will bring to the people. I hope they are honest.’”
Lebanon: Khamenei Dismisses STL, “Justice is More Important” Than Stability
December 21st, 2010 by Jason
Speaking during a meeting with the Qatari emir yesterday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) “‘a rubber-stamp one whose verdict is null and void whatever it is.’” The Daily Star
reports that the statement from the leader of Iran was not well received
by many in Lebanon. “Labor Minister Butros Harb criticized Khamenei’s remarks, saying that it was up to the Lebanese to decide, ‘and not for others to dictate to them how to deal with the tribunal.’” Also in The Daily Star
, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir
worries about a possible take over
by Hizbullah: “The way Hizbullah is acting and their talk about becoming a significant force leads us to believe that if the party continues to pursue its plan it could seize power.” The patriarch also contradicted the recent assertion by Roger Cohen
that stability “trumps” justice, saying “‘Justice is justice and if we sacrifice it once, we could sacrifice it many times. Stability is important but justice is more important and guarantees stability.’”
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