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The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Public Opinion
Egypt: Are the Anti-Mubarak Protesters Losing Support?
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
Nona El-Hennawy​, writing for AlMasry AlYoumsays that vocal disapproval of continued anti-government protests is rising out of concern for security and economic stability.  She traces the split in opinion on continued protests to Hosni Mubarak’s speech on Tuesday that he would not seek another term in office.  Nona al-Sawy, a 39 year old resident of the upper middle class Mohandessin neighborhood in Cairo said: “I went to the demonstration because I wanted stability. Enough with protests; the country is collapsing […] What they [anti-Mubarak protesters] asked for has already been achieved.”  That al-Sawy comes from an upper middle class neighborhood may not be a coincidence.  El-Hennawy quotes Ashraf al-Sherif, a political scientist at The American University in Cairo, who argues that the Mubarak regime initiated a “counterrevolution” amongst the higher classes of Egyptian society whose interests depend heavily on the stability of the Mubarak regime.
Posted in Egypt, Protests, Public Opinion, Uncategorized | Comment »
Latest Images and Commentary From Tahrir Square
February 1st, 2011 by Kyle
Posted in Egypt, Protests, Public Opinion | Comment »
Voices From Tahrir Square - Continued (Feb 1)
February 1st, 2011 by Alec
POMED is regularly continuing to speak with activists on the ground at Tahrir Square in Cairo. Two of our contacts today gave us permission to share audio of their comments, which are available here:
Soha Abdelaty - Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
“Everyone is making fun of him [Hosni Mubarak], mocking him, and saying this is nowhere close to satisfying our demands.”
“They are completely disconnected from the people here. No one here is backing the [traditional] opposition [Wafd Party]…They are working on their own.”
Basem Fathy - Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA)
“They [the army] will not stand against the people, they will not use violence.”
Posted in Egypt, NGOs, Protests, Public Opinion | Comment »
An End to Arab Victimhood
February 1st, 2011 by Kyle
Roger Cohen, writing in the New York Times, comments that Israel has notably been left out of the conversation regarding popular uprisings and protests across the Middle East.  He states: ”It is an immense journey from a culture of victimhood to one of self-empowerment, from a culture of conspiracy to one of construction.” He argues that the dichotomy between Muslim suicide bombers and Arabs who have recently self-immolated, shows that the directions of grievances of Arabs in the Middle East have truly shifted inward toward their own regimes rather than Israel and the West. Cohen believes this renewed spirit will play an important role in bringing democracy and freedom to the region and that a democratic Egyptian government will, “carry a vital message for Arabs and Jews: Victimhood is self-defeating and paralyzing — and can be overcome. “
Posted in Egypt, Freedom, Israel, Protests, Public Opinion | Comment »
Voices From Tahrir Square
January 31st, 2011 by Alec
Despite an internet blackout by the Egyptian government, POMED has been regularly in touch with contacts on the ground in Egypt by telephone.  Now that the cell phone networks are mostly back up, we are now able to speak with a variety of human rights activists live in Tahrir Square.  Three of our contacts today gave us permission to share audio of their comments, which are available here:
Esraa Abdelfattah - Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA)
“They don’t care about any change in the government […] they want Mubarak to go first.”
“Until Mubarak leaves, we cannot move.”
“All Egyptian people don’t want Mubarak as President!”
Gamal Eid - Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
“The people were calling and screaming against Omar Suleiman and against Ahmed Shafiq, we refuse.”
“We’ll never forget who can support the dictator.”
Soha Abdelaty - Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
“People don’t care about the new ministers, they just want to see him [Hosni Mubarak] gone.”
“They want the U.S. to come out and say it, that he needs to go.”
“It’s not about the government, it’s about him. It’s very personal.”
Posted in Egypt, Protests, Public Opinion | Comment »
Egyptians Want New Social Contract, Calls on US Government to Support Activists
January 28th, 2011 by Naureen
Writing in Foreign Policy, Yasser El-Shimy states that the social contract that former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser formed with Egyptians–to liberate Arab lands from colonial powers, food stables, and guarantees of employment for university graduates–has been unraveling over the last three decades and that Hosni Mubarak has thus far refused to offer Egyptians a new social contract based on democratic representation and political freedoms, which has led to protests. El-Shimy says that, “like Tunisia, Egypt is flirting with a democratic revolution, not an Islamist takeover” and calls on U.S. officials to consider “cutting off its lifelines to Egypt’s autocratic regime and paying more attention to Egyptians’ demands for their fundamental rights.” While it is unclear what the immediate outcome of the protests will be, it is clear that they represent the end of Mubarak’s regime and when regime changes occur, “populations often do not forgive those who worked to prop up the old guard.”
Posted in Egypt, Protests, Public Opinion, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Tunisia: Invest in Emerging Actors with a Democratic Mindset
January 20th, 2011 by Cole
After decades of oppression, Tunisia was ripe for revolution and the notion of “Arab exceptionalism” has been discredited, writes Nabila Hamza, a Tunisian gender-equality activist who is currently the President of the Amman-based Foundation for the Future Although Arab public perception of the possibility for change has shifted dramatically, Arab regimes will likely placate the frustrations of the masses through controlled political openings and reinstating or raising economic subsidies.  The U.S. and Arab civil society must seize this crucial moment to reinvigorate the public discourse to press for real political change in the region.
See also the previous contributions to the Democracy Digest​-​POMED Tunisia symposium from Amr HamzawySteven Heydemann​Larry DiamondArun KapilShadi Hamid, and Kamran Bokhari.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, Democracy Promotion, Foreign Aid, NGOs, Public Opinion, Reform, Tunisia, Tunisia Symposium, Unions | Comment »
Doha Debates Choose Democratic Reform over Economic Liberalization
November 12th, 2010 by Anna
At a recent round of the Doha Debates – a monthly, televised event in which panelists debate a controversial issue before an audience drawn primarily from Qatar’s student body – 63% of audience members said that democratic reform should take precedence over  economic liberalization. Although it was not a scientific poll, the vote “offer[ed] a clear rejection of the philosophy of the region’s so-called moderate Arab states, where economic incentives are offered in place of meaningful political reform,” the Los Angeles TimesMeris Lutz reported. One of the panelists debating the topic, Georgetown University academic Jean-Francois Seznec, argued that immediate democratization might lead to Islamist rule, which could mean more restrictions on freedom of speech. Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas responded that “you need to achieve participatory politics. […] If the government keeps shutting up leftists, Nasserites, liberals and democrats, the Islamists will win.”
Posted in Civil Society, Freedom, Gulf, Islam and Democracy, Public Opinion | Comment »
Egypt: New Election Website, IRI Delegation to Egypt
November 3rd, 2010 by Jason
Al Masry Al Youm has set up an English language website focusing on the upcoming elections. The website includes sections for photos, video, and media monitoring. Al Masry Al Youm also has a report on the arrival of an International Republican Institute (IRI) delegation in Cairo. The delegation met with members of the National Council of Human Rights (NCHR) including the head of the parliamentary elections unit, Makram Mohamed Ahmed, and Mahmoud Karem, NCHR secretary-general. According to the report, the delegation from IRI asked why NCHR had denied international election monitors access to the country. “‘It’s a popular decision coming from people, not the state,’” said Ahmed. Ahmed’s statement seems belied by polling data showing that the Egyptian people due, in fact, support international election monitors.
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Middle Eastern Media, Public Opinion, Technology | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Iraq’s Development Challenges”
November 2nd, 2010 by Jason
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held a roundtable discussion Tuesday titled “Iraq’s Development Challenges.” The discussants were Christine McNab, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General & UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, John Desrocher, Director, Office of Iraq Affairs, US Department of State, and Leslie Campbell, Regional Director for the Middle East & North Africa, National Democratic Institute (NDI). The discussion was moderated by Frederick Tipson, Director of UNDP/Washington.
 (To read full notes, continue below the fold or click here for pdf.) Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, DC Event Notes, Elections, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Iraq, Political Parties, Public Opinion, Reform, Sectarianism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge”
October 14th, 2010 by Jason
The New America Foundation (NAF) held an event today marking the release of Hooman Majd’s new book, “The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge.” Majd was introduced by Steve Clemons, Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at NAF.
 (To read full notes, continue below the fold or go here for pdf)
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Posted in DC Event Notes, Elections, Freedom, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Islam and Democracy, Political Islam, Protests, Public Opinion, Reform, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
Lebanon: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop
October 7th, 2010 by Jason
The anticipated UN Special Tribunal on Lebanon indictments are stoking tensions in the Levant. Mona Yacoubian writes at the Middle East Channel that the situation “embodies all the complex challenges that confront Lebanon: Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions, Hezbollah’s weapons, confessional power-sharing, the influence of regional players particularly Syria […] and broader proxy battles between the West and the Hezbollah/Syria/Iran alliance.” Yacoubian argues that, of all the concerns, the reaction of Hezbollah to the possible indictment of several of its members is the most worrying because it has the most to lose: “…Hezbollah’s culpability in the Hariri assassination will deal a fatal blow to Hezbollah’s professed raison d’etre of ‘resistance’ against Israel, instead reducing the organization to nothing more than a sectarian militia among many in Lebanese confessional politics.”
A main point of contention in Lebanon presently is the issue of “false witnesses”–those who initially testified that Syria was responsible for the assassination. “(M)inisters loyal to Berri’s Development and Liberation bloc announced on Wednesday they would suspend their participation in future Cabinet sessions if a session scheduled for Tuesday did not tackle the issue of false witnesses,” Nafez Qawas reports in the Daily Star. Several members of the Cabinet, including Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Shami, refused to participate in sessions until the subject was addressed and warned that not addressing the issue would lead to “civil strife.”
Posted in Civil Society, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Political Parties, Public Opinion, Sectarianism | Comment »
Contradictory Messages Make Middle East “Cynical” About Democracy
October 6th, 2010 by Anna
In an interview with the New Internationalist magazine, Middle East correspondent for The Independent​Robert Fisk says that there is “a good deal of cynicism about the word [democracy]” among people in the Middle East. Although the West rhetorically promotes democracy in the region, many Western governments do not always support democratic principles in practice, even at home. Fisk asserts that what people in the Middle East seem to want is justice, adding that although foreign leaders preach justice, it is “something that I don’t think we’re interested in giving the Middle East.” Calling the effects of elections in the region “grotesque” and “a mockery,” he observes that “people seem to think it adds legitimacy to have an election even if it’s totally rigged.”
Fisk also criticizes Western support for authoritarian regimes in the Middle East who merely “play democracy.” In addition, he challenges the assumption that publics in the region “always want to buy our products, like human rights or democracy,” contending that foreign governments have not consistently supported those values in practice.
Posted in Elections, Foreign Aid, Public Opinion, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Politics of Religious Freedom and the Minority Question: A Middle East Genealogy”
October 5th, 2010 by Jason
Saba Mahmood presented her forthcoming paper entitled “Politics of Religious Freedom and the Minority Question: A Middle Eastern Genealogy” at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center on Monday night. She was introduced by Jose Casanova, Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and the head of the Berkley Center’s Program on Globalization, Religion and the Secular.
 (To read full notes, continue below the fold or click here for pdf.)
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Posted in Civil Society, DC Event Notes, Egypt, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Islam and Democracy, Public Opinion, Sectarianism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Between Religion and Politics”
September 29th, 2010 by Jason
An event was held today at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace celebrating the release of the book “Between Religion and Politics”, coauthored by Amr Hamzawy and Nathan Brown. Marwan Muasher acted as the moderator for the event, where the authors explained the process they utilized in the researching of the book and explored, in depth, the case studies of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
(To read full notes, continue below the fold or click here for pdf.)
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, DC Event Notes, Egypt, Elections, Freedom, Hamas, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine, Political Islam, Public Opinion, Reform | Comment »
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.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in DC Event Notes, Events, Foreign Aid, Hamas, Judiciary, Mideast Peace Plan, Palestine, Political Parties, Public Opinion, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Pakistan: Economic Woe Prompts Criticism From Military, US
September 29th, 2010 by Jason
The recent catastrophic flooding in Pakistan has caused tensions to rise between that country’s civilian government and it’s military. Jane Perlez writes in The New York Times that the seeming incompetence of President Asif Ali Zardari’s government has brought the question of a return to military rule back into play: “In a meeting on Monday[…]the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, confronted the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, over incompetence and corruption in the government[…]the meeting was widely interpreted by the Pakistani news media[…]as a rebuke to the civilian politicians and as having pushed the government to the brink.”
Economic factors have also played a role in the row between the military and civilian leaders in Pakistan. Perlez reports that in a recent meeting, finance minister Hafiz Shaikh told a group of civilians and military officers that the Pakistani government had “enough money to pay only two months’ salaries,” due in part to the country’s inability to collect enough taxes. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton​addressed this very issue yesterday at a gathering in Washington. Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy’s The Cable quotes Sec. Clinton: “‘Pakistan cannot have a tax rate of 9 percent of GDP when land owners and all of the other elites do not pay anything or pay so little it’s laughable, and then when there’s a problem everybody expects the United States and others to come in and help.’”
Posted in Military, Pakistan, Public Opinion, US foreign policy | Comment »
Egypt: What do the Protests Mean?
September 23rd, 2010 by Jason
Protests broke out on Tuesday in Cairo and Alexandria. Hoda Abdel-Hamid explains that the protests are important because “…the protestors voiced what many Egyptians say quietly: no to inheritance of power.” She adds, “…some Egyptians at least, are not intimidated by the system anymore. And what is even less clear is how the government will adapt with the rising voices of opposition.” Issandr El-Amrani​wonders what signal the authorities are trying to send by cracking down harshly on protesters: “For the police, this might indicate new instructions to send a strong message to participants that such protests (not long ago largely tolerated and kept under control) will be handled more firmly from now on.” He shares Hamid’s concern about the governments next steps: “…what if, in the run-up to the succession many expect to happen in the next year, Egypt sees a considerable tightening of political space?[…] It’s worth keeping this in mind, because we’re not in 2005: Egypt’s domestic politics are not a major part of US foreign policy, the world is not watching.”
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Freedom, Human Rights, Protests, Public Opinion | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Evaluating the State of Democracy in Pakistan”
September 23rd, 2010 by Jason
The United States Institute of Peace held a panel discussion Wednesday titled “Evaluating the State of Democracy in Pakistan”. The event was moderated by Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser and manager of the Pakistan program at USIP. The panel members were Mohammad Waseem, currently a visiting fellow at the Brooking Institution and professor of political science at Lahore University, Shahid Javed Burki, a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and current Senior Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and Sheila Fruman, Senior Country Director for Pakistan at the National Democratic Institute from 2006-2010.
(To read full notes, continue below the fold or click here for pdf.)
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, DC Event Notes, Foreign Aid, Freedom, Military, Pakistan, Political Parties, Public Opinion, Taliban, US foreign policy | Comment »
Palestine: Is Fayyidism Viable?
September 21st, 2010 by Jason
“Relying on ‘Fayyadism’…alone will likely lead to failure and disappointment. Technocratic management can probably keep Palestinian institutions afloat and even improve their functioning in some limited ways. But it does not even pretend to offer a solution for the deeper problems afflicting Palestinian politics—division, repression, occupation, alienation, and wide-reaching institutional decay.” This was the conclusion of a paper by Nathan J. Brown two months ago. In a recent article at Carnegie Comment, Brown responds to questions about, and criticisms of, that paper.
The first criticism Brown takes on is the assertion that “limited state building” is the best that can be achieved in the present circumstances. Brown agrees that the situation is “impossible,” but focuses his response on the prevailing wisdom that Fayyidism is the key to state building in the West Bank. “Fayyad’s accomplishments, like his virtues, are real… The real political damage is done when those accomplishments are treated not as a way to keep Palestinian politics on life support but as a cure for the underlying diseases,” which he diagnosis’s as “Hamas, Gaza, authoritarianism, and political decay…” along with a broken legislative process.
Brown goes on to address questions about the reach of Fayyidism, whether its popularity makes it democratic, and why Fayyidism has gained so much support if its ability to effect real change is so limited. In a reveling passage, Brown tries to lay out an alternative to Fayyidism: “The existing approach, based on an assumption that a comprehensive Israeli–Palestinian agreement can be negotiated and then used as a device for ousting Hamas from control of Gaza is implausible… An approach that takes Palestinian politics seriously and prioritizes rather than postpones the issues of Gaza and Hamas would be difficult in its design… But at least it would be grounded in the realities of today rather than pretending that the conditions of the 1990s…still obtain.”
Posted in Civil Society, Hamas, Mideast Peace Plan, Palestine, Political Parties, Public Opinion | Comment »
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Egypt: Transition to Democracy May Face Constitutional Obstacles
Egypt: View of Protesters From Above
Leahy Ready to Freeze Aid to Egypt, Graham and Granger Call for Caution
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Egypt: Banner Hung From Apartment Building in Support of Protests
Egypt: Video of Protests in Alexandria
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