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The POMED Wire Archives
Category: US foreign policy
President Obama Condemns Violent Repression of Protesters
February 18th, 2011 by Kyle
President Barack Obama, issued a statement condemning the violence that took place across the region on Friday in Yemen, Bahrain and Libya. President Obama stated: “I am deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur.” He went on to say: “Wherever they are, people have certain universal rights including the right to peaceful assembly.” President Obama urged these governments to use restraint in their response to peaceful protesters and to respect their rights.
Posted in Bahrain, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, Libya, Protests, US foreign policy, Yemen | Comment »
POMED Notes: “After Mubarak: What do the Egyptian People Really Want?”
February 18th, 2011 by Kyle
On Wednesday, the Middle East Institute hosted an event focused on the public opinions of Egyptians in the wake of Mubarak’s fall from power, entitled, “After Mubarak: What do the Egyptian People Really Want?” The Middle East Institute hosted two speakers; Steven Kull, Middle East public opinion expert and director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, along with, Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution.
For full notes, click here for pdf. or continue below.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Diplomacy, Egypt, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Mideast Peace Plan, Military, Muslim Brotherhood, Protests, Public Opinion, Reform, Sectarianism​, US foreign policy | Comment »
Bahrain: After Violence US Analyzes Military Aid
February 18th, 2011 by Kyle
Following the Bahraini security forces’ attack on sleeping protesters in Lulu Square, U.S. officials are calling for a re-examination of aid to Bahrain and an investigation to determine whether U.S. aid was used in the attack.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, “has asked State officials…to identify the equipment and units involved in the attacks,” Leahy’s spokesman David Carletold POLITICO Thursday. Under the “Leahy Law,” aid will be cut off to any forces determined to have perpetrated human rights abuses; the United States gives aid to the Bahraini military.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) stated: “Using tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors is the worst kind of response to a nonviolent demonstration… I urge the government of Bahrain to put an end to the violence and allow the Bahrainis to voice their call for greater political freedom.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged restraint in a Thursday phone call with her Bahraini counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa , she said: “The United States strongly opposes the use of violence and strongly supports reform that moves toward democratic institution building and economic openness.”
Posted in Bahrain, Congress, Diplomacy, Military, US foreign policy | Comment »
The U.S. Must Support the Green Movement
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Writing in The Washington Post, Ray Takeyh argues that the only way the U.S. can hope to change Iran’s behavior is to empower the Green Movement.  Russia and China are unlikely to agree to more economic sanctions and the Arab states preoccupied with their own revolutions will be reluctant to participate in efforts to isolate Iran.  Additionally, the military option is no longer feasible, Takeyh states, as it would likely “radicalize the Arab populace just as forces of moderation and democracy seem ascendant.” The Middle East, he states, is undergoing a momentous transformation that is absent of any ideology but rather speaks to people’s frustrations over repression and corruption.  The Green Movement which began in 2009 was “a harbinger of this new epoch,” he says, as it highlights the opposition’s success to de-legitimize the theocratic regime as “a significant portion of the population” contemplates “life beyond the parameters of clerical despotism.” The disenchantment of the populous is also “mirrored by the steady stream of defecting regime loyalists” which may point to inability of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to enforce rule by fear. The challenge for the U.S., Takeyh states is to find ways to connect with the Green Movement and points to the model of Eastern Europe where the West covertly funneled assistance to dissidents through institutions like churches and labor unions.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Iran, Islamist movements, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Notes: “After Mubarak”
February 17th, 2011 by Alec
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday entitled, “After Mubarak,” discussing the difficulties that lay ahead for Egypt in the aftermath of Hosni Mubarak’s ouster by protesters and implications for U.S. policy.  Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment and former Foreign and deputy Prime Minister of Jordan, moderated the panel.  Marina Ottaway, Director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Program, and Michele Dunne, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment and editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin, also spoke on the panel.  Amr Hamzawy, Research Director and Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, was scheduled to be teleconferenced in live from Cairo, but technical difficulties prevented his participation.
For full notes, continue below or click here for PDF.  For video, click here.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Egypt, Event Notes, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Obama Administration Worried Egyptian Military Not Doing Enough
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Paul Richter, writing in the Los Angeles Times, reports that the Obama administration is concerned that the Egyptian military’s plans to reshape the government “may fall short of producing its promised democratic overhaul” given the military leadership’s failure to lift the emergency law and dismiss the old cabinet, as well as its condensed schedule for constitutional reform and elections which may not provide enough time for political parties to organize.  While the army is a respected institution that safeguards stability, it is more inclined toward the status quo and protecting its commercial interests, Richter writes. Egypt’s protest movement also seems worried by the army’s increased authority.  POMED Executive Director Stephen McInerney, who has served as an informal advisor to the White House and has been in regular contact with Egyptian groups and activists states, “Groups that have been skeptical are becoming a little bit more skeptical” and that the administration is ”clearly pleased with some steps, and want to be supportive publicly. But they do have concerns.” The administration has been privately applying “friendly but steady pressure” on Egyptian leaders to ensure the transition does not lose momentum and that promises to make irreversible changes towards democracy are upheld.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Military, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
State Department Launches Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Wednesday marked the launch of the U.S. State Department’s launch of Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society.  Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns opened the event by stating: “In recent weeks, we have been awed by the power of committed citizens to effect change in their societies.  We’ve borne witness to a remarkable triumph of human spirit and human courage in Cairo and in Tunis. ”  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed his remarks and also expressed U.S. support for democratic change stating: “Our support for democracy and human rights is not about siding for or against either governments or citizens. This is about standing up for universal principles and for those in and out of government who support them.”  Clinton also discussed the use of diplomatic channels “to engage with civil society as a cornerstone of our diplomacy,” stating that “the transition to democracy is more likely to be peaceful and permanent when it involves both the government in power and the broad cross-section of the governed.”  She said that the Strategic Dialogue will focus on issues like governance, accountability, democracy, human rights and women’s empowerment.  USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah also discussed the agency’s new approach to development which prioritizes democratic governance and its desire to continue to work with and support civil society organizations.
Sherif Mansour, a prominent Egyptian activist, also made a statement calling for the U.S. aid package to Egypt to reflect the administration’s commitment to civil society.   He criticized the State Department for conceding to “pressure from the Egyptian government to cut down funds for democracy and to make it only available for government-approved NGOs.”
Posted in Civil Society, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Foreign Aid, Protests, Reform, Tunisia, US foreign policy | Comment »
Why Bahrain May Be Next
February 17th, 2011 by Naureen
Writing in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof argues that Bahrain is a reminder that “authoritarian regimes are slow learners.” The Bahraini government, he states, has failed to learn the lessons of Tunisia and Egypt that the use of violence will “undermine the legitimacy of the government.”  Kristof states that while at first the protesters were demanding the release of political prisoners, an end to torture and less concentration of power in the al-Khalifa family that controls the country, the violence against protesters have led to calls for the overthrow of the ruling family with some calling for a British-style constitutional monarchy, where King Hamad would reign without power, and others calling for the ouster of the king. “All of this puts the United States in a bind,” Kristof says, as Bahrain houses a U.S. navy fleet and has been considered a model in the region by U.S. government officials, who maintain close ties to the al-Khalifa family.  Kristof calls on the U.S. to be cautious of that “our cozy relations with those in power won’t dull our appreciation that history is more likely to side with protesters being shot with rubber bullets than with the regimes doing the shooting.”
Posted in Bahrain, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
POMED Executive Director Interviewed on the Role of MEPI in Egypt
February 16th, 2011 by Alec
POMED Executive Director, Stephen McInerney, was interviewed on Tuesday by Lisa Mullins on Public Radio International’s The World about the role of the United States’ Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in funding Egyptian civil society groups and the influence this had on the protest movement.
For full audio, click here.  Download the mp3 here.
On democracy and governance assistance to Egypt in comparison to military aid:
“Proportionally, support for democracy assistance is in the neighborhood of 30 million dollars annually, through a variety of different accounts in Egypt, which is quite small.”
The role of MEPI funds on the protest movement:
“It has played some role in helping, kind of, support and sustain some of the young organizations that have wanted to be more politically active.”
“The protest movement is overwhelmingly indigenously Egyptian, and I think we would have definitely seen this protest movement emerge without any U.S. support or any U.S. involvement.”
“Some of the actors who have been involved with the protest movement have been more effective and more organized, connected, and networked than they might have been without our support.” 
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, Foreign Aid, POMED, US foreign policy | Comment »
Rice Says Democracy in Egypt Is In America’s Interests
February 16th, 2011 by Alec
In an op-ed piece for The Washington Post, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Riceargues that the primary lesson from Egypt for other Middle Eastern governments is that they should “accelerate” long delayed political and economic reforms. Rice also indicates that the reform process is not reversible and that attempts to reverse course after initiating such reforms will eventually build up into a situation that resembles Egypt’s revolution.  She goes on to say that although the Muslim Brotherhood does in fact represent the “most organized” opposition force in Egypt, in accordance with democratic principles, they should be forced to defend their own political and economic vision for the country before ordinary Egyptians in free and fair elections. Looking at the examples of Hamas and Hezbollah, Rice argues that extremists struggle when faced with the tasks of governance.  Dismissing popular parallels in the West between Egypt and 1979 Iran, Rice declares that Egypt’s institutions are stronger and its secularism deeper.  Ultimately, long term U.S. interests are better served by promoting democracy in Egypt rather than holding on to the false stability of authoritarianism, she says.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Egypt, US foreign policy | Comment »
Bahrain: Protesters Hold Lulu Square
February 16th, 2011 by Kyle
Anti-government protesters continue to occupy Pearl (Lulu) Square in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, after two days of violent clashes left at least two demonstrators dead. Two protesters have been killed so far by attacks from riot police. On Tuesday, Bahrain’s ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa made a television appearance in which he expressed his condolences for “the deaths of two of our dear sons” and said a committee would investigate the killings. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley responded to the protest violence stating: “The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain.” Crowley also supported Al-Khalifa’s comments and called for a quick investigation into the killings of protesters and urged, “all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.”
Posted in Bahrain, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, US foreign policy | Comment »
More Amendments Proposed to Cut State and Foreign Operations Funding in the House
February 16th, 2011 by Kyle
By Monday evening, members of the House proposed their final amendments to H.R.1, the continuing resolution to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) proposed cutting funds appropriated to the president’s economic support fund by $200 million. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) called for cutting all funds for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, the Foreign Military Financing Program which includes grants to Israel, Jordan and Egypt,  as well as the International Security Assistance Funds appropriated to the president. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) called for an amendment which would condition economic aid to Egypt so far as “the new Government of Egypt fulfills its commitment to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed on March 26, 1979, and to freedom of navigation of the Suez Canal.”
Posted in Congress, Egypt, Foreign Aid, Israel, Jordan, US foreign policy | Comment »
President and Foreign Aid Experts Lobby for Caution in Cutting Foreign Aid
February 16th, 2011 by Kyle
In response to the cuts that have been proposed for the budget of FY 2011 the Office of Management and Budget has stated: “If the President is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the President will veto the bill.” The House Republican leadership’s version would cut $11.7 billion, or 21 percent, from the president’s 2011 budget request for the State Department, USAID, and foreign operations, as well as $16 billion from the Defense Department’s fiscal 2011 request. House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee ranking member Nita Lowey (D-NY) said on the House floor on Tuesday: “Despite broad agreement that U.S. national security is supported by a three-legged stool of defense, diplomacy, and development, this bill dramatically weakens diplomacy and development.”
Charles MacCormack​, President of Save the Children, offered support for foreign aid: “When times are tough, some say we should cut back on overseas initiatives and focus instead at home…In fact, when the United States invests in helping vulnerable children in poor countries grow up healthy and educated, it’s helping build a better and more secure world for American children as well.”
Posted in Congress, Foreign Aid, US foreign policy | Comment »
Iran: Senators Call for Special Human Rights Monitor
February 16th, 2011 by Kyle
On February 15th, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and 23 other Senators submitted a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for the creation of an independent U.N. human rights monitor on Iran when the U.N. Human Rights Council convenes this March. Sighting the numerous human rights abuses that have occurred in Iran especially in response to the democratic uprising in late 2009 the letter states:“Establishing an independent U.N. human rights monitor charged with monitoring and reporting on Iran’s human rights violations is an important effort to provide some protection for Iran’s human rights and democracy movement.”
Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council Policy Director supported this effort stating: “Iran’s destiny can only be decided by the Iranian people, but as human rights violations continue in Iran, the international community must be loud and clear that universal rights must be respected.”
Posted in Congress, Democracy Promotion, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, US foreign policy, United Nations | Comment »
Sen. Mark Kirk Calls for a Middle East Stability Package
February 15th, 2011 by Kyle
As the debate continues this week in the House of Representatives on proposed budget cuts, including those to State and Foreign Operations, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)  and other senators are “looking to add a generous foreign aid package for Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries.” In an interview at The Cable in Foreign Policy, Kirk stated, “A [continuing resolution] that had full year funding for the troops plus an Egypt, Israel, and Middle East stability package of full year funding would send the right signal from the United States.” Kirk states that senators on both sides of the aisle support the initiative which would “fully fund foreign aid accounts for a host of countries in the region at the level requested by the president and pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.”
Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) the ranking Democrat on the House of Foreign Affairs Committee also supports the proposed plan including increased aid for U.S.-based organizations that promote civil society in Egypt such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Posted in Civil Society, Congress, Diplomacy, Military, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
USGLC Applauds Obama’s Proposed International Affairs Budget FY 2012
February 15th, 2011 by Kyle
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition recently commended the Obama administration’s proposed budget for International Affairs in FY 2012 as “a critical investment in America’s national security.” The USGLC goes on to state: “At a time of intense pressure to cut spending and in the context of an overall freeze on non-security funding, the President has presented an International Affairs budget that protects America’s security interests and maintains U.S. global leadership while also encouraging more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”
The USGLC listed the direct effects of the proposed international affairs budget cuts currently being debated in the House of Representatives: Jeopardize critical national security investments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq; reverse efforts of the Bush and Obama Administration to bolster civilian capacity and assume responsibilities that have been carried out by our military at a higher cost; diminish America’s ability to uphold its moral obligation by responding quickly and effectively to global disasters, such the Haiti earthquake last year; cripple the Feed the Future Initiative (a food security investment program); endanger lives (through reductions in global health spending); constrain U.S. leadership and limit the ability to leverage resources from other nations that address common global challenges.
For full USGLC report, click here.
Posted in Civil Society, Congress, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, US foreign policy, US politics | Comment »
President Obama Speaks About Unrest Across the Middle East
February 15th, 2011 by Kyle
President Barack Obama made statements to the press on Tuesday in regards to his proposed budget as well as the current uprisings taking place across the Middle East. When asked about the recent uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain, and Egypt and whether the US values stability over freedom Obama responded by stating that there is a lot of work to be done in Egypt, but “we’re seeing the right signals coming out of Egypt” including the military’s reaffirmation of Egypt’s treaties and their initial work in seeking free and fair elections.  For the rest of the region he reaffirmed the US’ beliefs in universal rights and stated that he urged all allies not to use “violence as a form of coercion.”  Obama went further to state that he was concerned about stability in the region but that a “young, vibrant generation” in the Middle East is looking for change and he urged Arab leaders “you’ve got to get out ahead of change.  You can’t be behind the curve.”
On Iran, Obama stated, “And my hope and expectation is, is that we’re going to continue to see the people of Iran have the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedoms and a more representative government,” and condemned the regime’s response to protests, “which is to shoot people and beat people and arrest people.”
Posted in Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, US foreign policy, Yemen | Comment »
State Department Presents FY2012 Budget
February 15th, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Thomas Nides presented the 2012 budget for the Department of State and USAID stating that this is “a lean budget for lean times” in which foreign assistance and programs in several countries have been eliminated. He stated that this budget differs from those presented in the past as it is divided into two parts. The first is the core foreign assistance and operations budget which constitutes $47 billion and the second part which covers “extraordinary temporary costs” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Nides stated that the budget addresses the QDDR recommendations that “we move forward on an integrated national security budget.” He also noted that the budget will include funding to support allies such as Israel, the West Bank and Jordan and for military-to-military partnerships with countries like Egypt, where funding will be contingent on how the situation evolves. In response to a question on aid to Egypt, Nides stated that $1.57 billion dollars had been allocated with $1.3 billion going to the military and $250 million for economic assistance and that ”We are willing and ready to help the Egyptian people. As it relates to 2011, we’ll have funds available as well until we hear exactly what the Egyptian people will need.”
Posted in Egypt, Foreign Aid, Israel, Jordan, US foreign policy | Comment »
Granger Applauds Cuts to FY2011, Clinton Warns That Cuts Will Devastate National Security
February 15th, 2011 by Naureen
Last week, Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) praised House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers for his leadership in the largest reduction in discretionary spending in U.S. history to complete the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations, which constitutes an 8 percent reduction from 2010 appropriations and a 21 percent reduction from the President’s 2011 budget request. She stated that it will set the tone for the FY2012 appropriations cycle “when cuts will go even deeper.” Granger also stated that as Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations she “will ensure that our foreign aid is not used a s a stimulus bill for foreign countries. This bill is about our national security and the funding levels reflect that” and that “the spending priorities reflect the fluid and tenuous situation in the Middle East. Volatility in the region highlights the importance of reaffirming our strategic partnerships and commitments.”
In response to the committee’s proposed cuts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrote a letter to Rogers stating, “Cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters, and will damage our leadership around the world…Across the Middle East, the Committee’s proposed cuts would force us to scale back our efforts at this particularly crucial time.” She also writes, “The Administration is committed to working with Congress to reduce the deficit in a balanced manner that does not impede our economic growth or risk our national security.”
Posted in Congress, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Clinton Applauds the Egyptian People and Chastises the Iranian Regime
February 15th, 2011 by Kyle
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a recent interview with  Al Jazeera, addressed the recent overthrow of Hosni Mubarak: “The Mubarak era is over. There is a new effort that is just beginning, and I think it is an – it’s important that the United States be seen as supporting the transition to democracy, and that is where we stand.” When asked about the current status of the military run government and the presence of former Mubarak supporters within this group, Clinton urged the Egyptian people to stay steadfast in their movement for change and that they must take part in the transitional process.
In another recent interview with Al Arabiya, Secretary Clinton applauded the Egyptian people for their ability to bring about political change without the interference of external forces.  She stated, “This was all about the Egyptian people, and I think the Egyptian people themselves made it clear that they wanted no violence, they wanted their human rights respected, and they wanted a transition to democracy.” When asked about Iran’s support for Egypt, Clinton responded: “We’ve seen this ironic hypocrisy coming from the Iranian regime that was trumpeting what was going on in Egypt and is now oppressing their own people.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Iran, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
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