6.25.2006

U.S. Democracy Promotion, a Round-up

Here is a recent policy watch of the U.S. efforts, stances and statements concerning democracy promotion worldwide, especially in the Middle East:

(Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

Headlines:
  • Hungary a Model for Iraq, Bush Says in Budapest
  • Terrorist's Death in Iraq Is Victory for Freedom, Bush Declares
  • U.S. Envoy Bolton Pledges Increased Push for U.N. Reforms; Effectiveness of world body to be seen by actions on Darfur, Lebanon, Iran
  • U.N. Hariri Assassination Probe Encouraging, Syria's cooperation still questionable, U.S. Envoy Says
  • U.S. President Arrives in Baghdad for Surprise Trip; Bush Pledges Security, Economic, Diplomatic Support to Iraq
  • House Passes $21.3 Billion Fiscal 2007 Foreign Aid Spending Bill; Representatives reject proposal to cut assistance to Egypt

Hungary a Model for Iraq, Bush Says in Budapest

Bush commemorates 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet tyranny

Washington -- Speaking on a hill from which Soviet forces fired on Budapest in 1956 to put down a 12-day-old revolution, President Bush extolled Hungary June 22 as a country that “represents the triumph of liberty over tyranny” and provides a model for emerging democracies in the Middle East, particularly Iraq.

Earlier in the day, Bush laid flowers at a memorial to thousands of victims of the 1956 uprising.

Bush noted the presence in the audience of some of those who participated in the uprising, which was crushed half a century ago by Soviet tanks and troops. “America honors your courage,” he said. “We've learned from your example, and we resolve that when people stand up for their freedom, America will stand with them.” (See related article.)

Iraq, too, faces determined enemies, Bush said. “Defeating these enemies will require sacrifice and continued patience -- the kind of patience the good people of Hungary displayed after 1956.”

He praised Hungarians for returning to the streets in 1989 and playing an instrumental role in bringing down the Iron Curtain that separated the communist bloc from the free world.

“The lesson of the Hungarian experience is clear: Liberty can be delayed, but it cannot be denied,” Bush said. “The desire for liberty is universal, because it is written by our Creator into the hearts of every man, woman, and child on this Earth. And as people across the world step forward to claim their own freedom, they will take inspiration from your example, and draw hope from your success.”

Bush pledged that the United States will stand by its commitment to help Iraqis rebuild their country and defeat the enemies of freedom. “Our commitment is certain, our objective is clear. The new Iraqi government will show the world the promise of a thriving democracy in the heart of the Middle East,” he said.

Bush came to Budapest after participating in the U.S.-European Union Summit in Vienna, Austria. (See related article.)

During his speech in Budapest, Bush noted that Hungary is a member both of NATO and the European Union. “You know that the democratic journey is not easy, but you continue to make the tough decisions that are necessary to succeed,” he said. “America admires your perseverance, we welcome your progress, and America values our alliance with the free people of Hungary.”

He recounted instances of Hungarian leadership in advancing freedom, including the launching of the International Center for Democratic Transition in 2005 in Budapest and the deploying of Hungarian troops in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

By supporting the young democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush told the Hungarians, “you are strengthening two new allies in the war on terror, and you're bringing hope to millions of people in a vital region of the world.”

The transcript of Bush’s speech is available on the White House Web site, along with transcripts of his press availability with Solyom at Sandor Palace, his press availability with Gyurcsany at the Parliament Building.
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Terrorist's Death in Iraq Is Victory for Freedom, Bush Declares

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, operational commander of al-Qaida in Iraq, is an important victory for the Iraqi people and in the global war against terrorism, President Bush said in his weekly radio address to the nation on June 10.

"Freedom has achieved a great victory in the heart of the Middle East," Bush said.

Although violence might escalate in the weeks ahead, Bush warned, "Coalition and Iraqi forces are seizing this moment to strike the enemies of freedom in Iraq at this time of uncertainty for their cause."

The president expressed confidence in the steps that the new government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken to address its most urgent priorities of reconciliation, reconstruction, and suppressing terrorist violence -- especially now with the completion of the Cabinet by naming ministers of defense, interior and national security.

"Together we will determine how to best deploy America's resources in Iraq and achieve our shared goal of an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," Bush said.
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U.S. Envoy Bolton Pledges Increased Push for U.N. Reforms

Effectiveness of world body to be seen by actions on Darfur, Lebanon, Iran

Washington – U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says there will be an increased U.S. effort in the coming weeks and months for needed reforms at the United Nations.

Bolton told an audience in London on June 8 that the United States is pursing a reform agenda motivated by the need for “ a stronger United Nations” that is better able to solve existing international problems. (See related article.)

The U.S. representative to the United Nations told the Centre for Policy Studies that the issue is whether it is possible for the United Nations to perform as its founders intended. “Can it solve problems like Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the humanitarian tragedy of Darfur, and the critical efforts to make Lebanon a free and independent country again?” he asked. U.N. reform will be judged against the answers to these questions, Bolton said.

Bolton said that an important priority is finishing the job of disentangling Syria from Lebanon. The United States expects Syria to cooperate with the international investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, he said, as well as the assassinations of another 14 anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians.

However, he said, “The Syrian government has not cooperated with that investigation,” and Syrian government officials continue obstructing the inquiry. Should that pattern continue, Bolton said, it will test the U.N. Security Council’s resolve to back up the investigation. (See related article.)

The claim by Syrian officials that they have no documents on Hariri is not credible, given his past alignment with Syrian military and security forces, Bolton said.

The United States is prepared to see the investigation continue for as long as the investigators deem necessary, he said. Bolton praised the work of the independent probe as “excellent and thorough,” although the Syrians continue to block full access to the evidence needed by the investigators.
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U.N. Hariri Assassination Probe Encouraging, U.S. Envoy Says

U.N. Ambassador Bolton says Syria's cooperation still questionable

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The United States is pleased with the progress of the U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and will support the investigators' request to expand the scope of the probe and extend its mandate for one year, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said June 14.

However, Syria's cooperation with the investigation remains questionable, Bolton told journalists outside the U.N. Security Council chambers.

In his report, "Brammertz (head of the International Independent Investigation Commission, UNIIIC) does not say that Syria has fully cooperated," the U.S. ambassador pointed out, quoting from the report that Syria's cooperation was "generally satisfactory."

"Maybe in a pass/fail system that is a pass for this reporting period, but that is hardly a ringing endorsement," Bolton said.

"I take the report at its worth that there has been satisfactory cooperation [from Syria] in this period, but far from the full active cooperation that the Security Council has required," the ambassador said.

Bolton said UNIIIC's report "shows the continuing progress and professionalism of the investigation." The commission, he said, "shows encouraging signs of moving ahead in a variety of areas."

A draft resolution currently circulating in the council [passed] will back Brammertz' request to extend the life of his commission and its mandate, the ambassador said.

Brammertz' request for the year extension and his willingness to remain on the job "shows me that preparations are proceeding in a very methodical fashion," Bolton said.

What the latest report -- UNIIIC's fourth -- demonstrates, Bolton said, "is the systematic progression toward the preparation for trial, toward the selection of defendants, and the preparation of cases."
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U.S. President Arrives in Baghdad for Surprise Trip

Washington -- President Bush made an unannounced five-hour visit to Baghdad June 13 for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, and other Iraqi leaders, and paid a visit to U.S. troops serving in Iraq.

In remarks with the Iraqi prime minister, Bush said they had discussed al-Maliki’s security, economic and construction strategies, “and all of it made sense to me.”

“It’s an impressive group of men and women,” the U.S. president said of the new government. “And if given the right help I’m convinced that you will succeed and so will the world.”

Bush said he had come in order to meet face-to-face and to “tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word.”

Describing Iraq as a “central front” in the War on Terror, he said it is in the interests of the United States and the international community, as well as the Iraqi people, that the new democratic government succeeds.

The success of democracy in Iraq deals “a serious blow to those who have a vision of darkness, who don’t believe in liberty,” Bush said to the Iraqi leaders.

Transcripts of the Bush’s remarks with the prime minister and his speech to U.S. troops in Iraq later in the day are available on the White House Web site.

Bush Pledges Security, Economic, Diplomatic Support to Iraq

The United States will continue to provide security, economic and international assistance to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as it seeks to accomplish its objectives for Iraq, President Bush pledges.

Speaking in his weekly radio address to the American people June 17, Bush said al-Maliki’s “top priority” is to secure Baghdad, and U.S. and coalition troops will help improve security by continuing to embed transition teams in Iraqi army and police units. “[W]e will help the new Iraqi Ministers of Defense and Interior improve their command and control, root out corruption, and investigate and punish human rights violations,” he said.

The United States also will support Prime Minister al-Maliki’s efforts to “rein in illegal militias, build a judicial system that will provide equal justice to all, and promote reconciliation among the Iraqi people,” according to the president.

To help revitalize the Iraqi economy, President Bush intends to send additional U.S. experts to help the Iraqi government develop an economic framework to promote job creation and business opportunities for all Iraqis. The United States also will help increase oil and electricity production by working with Iraqi authorities to protect key infrastructure from terrorist attacks, and to help quickly restore oil and electricity production should attacks occur.

The United States also will encourage international donors to fulfill the monetary pledges they have made to Iraq, and will help al-Maliki in his efforts to forge a new international compact. “Under this compact, Iraq will take a series of steps in the political, economic, and security areas, and in return, the international community will provide Iraq with more robust political and economic support,” Bush said.

The president recalled his surprise June 13 visit to Iraq and said he had undertaken the trip “to personally show our nation's commitment to a free Iraq,” adding it is “vital” for the Iraqi people “to know with certainty that America will not abandon them after we have come this far.”

Bush, Advisers Draw Up Plan To Support New Iraqi Government
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House Passes $21.3 Billion Fiscal 2007 Foreign Aid Spending Bill

Representatives reject proposal to cut assistance to Egypt

By Kathryn McConnell
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $21.3 billion in foreign assistance spending for the fiscal year beginning October 1 (fiscal year 2007) after defeating a proposal to reduce by $100 million aid for Egypt.

The bill passed June 9 by a 373-34 vote would provide 10 percent less than the Bush administration had requested but approximately 3 percent ($597 million) more than approved for fiscal year 2006.

The bill would fund fully Bush's request of $3.4 billion for the international fight against HIV/AIDS, $2.5 billion in aid to Israel, $1.8 billion for Egypt and $450 million for Sudan.

For the bill to become law, the Senate now must complete its version and the differences between the two worked out by a joint House-Senate committee. A final compromise bill then must be approved again by each chamber and sent to the president for signature or veto.

The contested amendment, defeated 225-198, offered by Wisconsin Representative David Obey, would have shifted $100 million away from Egypt to help fight HIV/AIDS and assist refugees in the Darfur area of Sudan. Obey is the leading Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

The amendment was intended to signal unease about Egypt's human-rights record. Opponents said a reduction in aid would punish unfairly an important ally in the Middle East. (See related article.)

The measure would provide $2 billion -- or one-third less than requested -- for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which rewards countries for economic progress and political and social development efforts. (See Millennium Challenge Account.)

It also would provide $522 million for Iraq reconstruction, $227 million less than the administration requested, and scale back funding for Afghanistan from the requested $1.1 billion to $962 million.

Jordan would receive $217 million for its security needs and $251 million in economic assistance. That total is $11 million more than requested and $9 million above the current level.

The measure does not provide the president's requested $150 million for development in the West Bank and Gaza but would allocate $80 million in humanitarian assistance to the area, provided the funds would not be used to support Hamas.

All U.S. assistance for Palestinians in those regions would go to nongovernmental organizations or contactors selected and monitored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The bill also would provide $507 million for the next stage of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, established in 2000 by Congress to fight illegal narcotics in Latin America, primarily in Colombia. Total anti-narcotics funding for the region would be $704 million.

An amendment offered by Democrat Jim McGovern would have shifted $30 million from the Andean initiative to refugees assistance programs. McGovern said the program is not working and supports a Colombian military accused of human-rights abuses. Opponents of the amendment said the anti-drug program is making progress; the amendment was rejected 224-174.

The spending measure would appropriate $371 million for former republics of the Soviet Union and $228 million for Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. It provides no military aid to Uzbekistan, accused of widespread human-rights violations; the Uzbek government has demanded the United State remove its military air base that had been supporting U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Overall the bill would appropriate $1.3 billion for multilateral development assistance; $1.3 billion for international financial institutions, such as the World Bank; $750 million for migration and refuges assistance; and $522 million for a new Trade Capacity Enhancement Fund to help nations qualify for and implement free-trade agreements.

The bill also would provide $70 million in economic assistance, $10 million less than requested, and $5 million in military assistance and training funds for Indonesia.

It would fund the Peace Corps at $325 million.

An amendment to bar any aid to Saudi Arabia was approved 312-97. An earlier version of bill contained some funds for military training and education.

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