1.29.2006

The U.S. "Exporting" Democracy

On the misleading term "exporting democracy," which is used frequently by the American media and some think tanks, I have found an interesting related material written by Professor R.J. Rummel on his blog.

I have previously commented on this term from a Middle Eastern perspective in an earlier post pointing out how much this term is misleading and, in reality, makes no sense. It is actually used to transmit a hidden implication targeting the U.S. administration's achievements and policies in this regard.

I will quote here the Rummel's post as an American view on this subject:

Not Imposed—Freedom’s a Right

By Professor R.J. Rummel

President Bush’s Inauguration speech has generated a lot of commentary, some excellent, some helpful, but on the average it is the predictable stuff from the liberal and left wing press squeezed into and sometimes overlapping with “news” on what those so-called “militants” are doing with their car bombings and murders of Iraqi civilians. By the way, have you noticed how this nice word “militants” for terrorists has been snuck into the major news these days. Even Fox has used the label. Another clever liberal-left conceptual victory.

Among the comments on Bush’s speech, he is accused of trying or wanting to “export” or “impose” democracy.” See, for example “The dangers of exporting democracy” by Eric Hobsbawn (link here), or “Folly in exporting ‘liberty’” by Michael Desch (link here).

Again, as I have said before (link here), this is a conceptual and even philosophical misunderstanding of Bush’s Forward Strategy of Freedom. He is not exporting (imposing) democracy, but enabling a people to throw off the chains that bind them. Where tyrants rule, people live in fear with virtually no human rights. By international law and multilateral treaties, people should be free. When they are not, Bush intends to help them achieve the freedom that is their right, as he has already been doing.

Bush has made this clear (link here): “There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom . . . . From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.”

However, some of those who use the term “export democracy” know what they are doing. They are opposed to Bush’s policy and want it to appear that he is imposing on a people something alien, something questionable within their moral system—something like trying to export Bibles to the Middle East.

But, a bible is not a people’s right by virtue of being human. Freedom is. No one should live in fear. No one should be denied the freedom of speech, religion, and organization. No one deserves to be ruled by bloody thugs that have imprisoned their whole nation in one gigantic, barbed wire surrounded concentration camp (If you think I exaggerate, take a close look at North Korea).

To say such people have a right to freedom is not my opinion. This is, as I say, a matter of international law, conventions, and treaties. So has spoken the United Nations. And so has spoken the overwhelming majority of nations.

(end)

Some recent related posts:

-The Realities of Promoting Democracy
-Bush, Americans and Spreading Democracy
-Rice, Foreign Policy and Promoting Freedom

U.S. Democracy Promotion, a Round-up

Here are the recent U.S. initiatives and attitudes concerning democracy promotion, especially in the Middle East.

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

New Challenges Call for New Diplomatic Strategies, Rice Says

Transformational diplomacy promotes democracy through partnerships

By Rebecca Ford Mitchell
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – A more integrated world with global threats -- terrorism, weapons proliferation, diseases, and trafficking in persons and drugs -- requires new diplomatic strategies, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington January 18, Rice said the United States is now engaged in transformational diplomacy, which means working with foreign citizens to help them “build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.”

“Let me be clear,” she added. “Transformational diplomacy is rooted in partnership, not in paternalism; in doing things with people, not for them.”

Rice said today’s diplomatic challenges, such as encouraging democracy to the Middle East, are difficult, but that America has met formidable challenges in the past.

“In 1946 and 1947, Germans were still starving in Europe. In 1946, Communists won big minorities in Italy and in France. In 1947, there was civil war in Greece; there was civil conflict in Turkey. In 1948, Czechoslovakia fell to a Communist coup; Germany was permanently divided in Berlin. And, in 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule, and the Chinese Communists won. This wasn't just a kind of minor setback for democracy, these were huge strategic setbacks,” she said.

Now, however, Europe is whole, prosperous and at peace, Rice said, because of the U.S. commitment to democratic values.

In Iraq, she said, “It's difficult for people who have solved their differences, their entire existence by fighting and by coercion and by repression and by violence, it's really hard for them to find a way to resolve their differences by politics instead, and by compromise. It's really hard in Afghanistan, where you still have terrorists who will blow up innocent children at a moment's notice. It's really hard to go to a place like Jordan and see this hotel where this wedding party, of all things, was blown up by a suicide bomber. It's hard to see the difficulties that the Palestinian people live with every day. It's really hard. But it's been hard before for countries that made it.”

We have seen the alternative to democracy, she said, in Afghanistan under Taliban-rule where al-Qaida freely operated and in the Darfur region of Sudan.

“Democracy is hard and democracy takes time,” she said, “but democracy is always worth it.”

TRANSFORMATIONAL DIPLOMACY INITIATIVE

Today’s diplomats must do more than report on countries and analyze policy, Rice said; they must support the growth of democracy and be “first-rate administrators of programs, capable of helping foreign citizens to strengthen the rule of law, to start businesses, to improve health and to reform education.”

The secretary said that the new front lines of U.S. diplomacy are in the transitional countries of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and the emerging regional leader nations like India, China, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia and South Africa. The U.S. diplomatic corps should be repositioned to reflect that reality, she said.

In 2006, Rice said, the United States will move 100 positions from Europe and Washington to countries like China, India, Nigeria and Lebanon. Another of the goals, she said, is to spread the U.S. diplomatic presence beyond foreign capitals.

“There are nearly 200 cities worldwide with over 1 million people in which the United States has no formal diplomatic presence,” she said. “This is where the action is today, and this is where we must be.”

The State Department, she said, will develop more American presence posts, like those currently in Egypt and Indonesia, where diplomats live and work in communities outside the embassy, engaging in discussions with private citizens as well as government officials. In addition, the department is exploring virtual presence posts in which foreign citizens can meet with U.S. diplomats via the Internet.

A transcript of Rice’s remarks and fact sheet on transformational diplomacy are available on the State Department Web site.
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State's Fried Says United States, Europe United on Freedom Agenda

Discusses Balkans, Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Middle East, Iraq, Iran

The United States and Europe are “essentially united” in the task of advancing freedom around the world, a senior State Department official said January 18 in a wide-ranging foreign policy speech.

“Support for freedom is not just a tactic or tool in America’s national security strategy -- it is THE core concept of our national grand strategy and, I believe, has been so for a century,” said Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried in a speech to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs.

Fried outlined how the United States and Europe are working on a freedom agenda worldwide – not only in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Eurasia, but also in the broader Middle East, including Iran.

“America cannot advance freedom alone. Nor are we alone. Europe and the United States are essentially united in this great task. Together, we are putting the political, economic and security assets of the transatlantic community to work outside Europe in support of freedom-seekers around the world,” he said.

Fried spoke of “a growing consensus that the purpose of U.S.-European cooperation is not to manage problems, or serve as a regulator of value-free competition, but to support common action in the pursuit of freedom.”

GOALS FOR 2006

In 2006, the trans-Atlantic alliance hopes to “bring the Balkans from post-war to pre-Europe”; to support and consolidate democracy in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan; “to help the Belarusian people achieve democracy; and to encourage countries such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to move more decisively and consistently in the direction of democracy.”

“In Eurasia, we will have to demonstrate clarity about our goals -- democracy, and, through democracy, stability and strengthened sovereignty -- while being realistic about what we can achieve in any given year and in any given election,” he said.

In the Middle East, the trans-Atlantic alliance stands ready to help Palestinians “develop effective instruments of governance,” to support the Iraqi people and their elected government, and to reach out to the Iranian people.

Regarding Iraq, Fried said Europeans have come to realize that failure in Iraq would be “a grave blow to our common security and to the prospects for reform and stability throughout the Middle East,” while success would set the stage for the advancement of the freedom agenda throughout the region. “It is critical that Europeans act on that realization,” he added.

The new Iraqi government “deserves the support of democratic allies around the world,” Fried said. “This will give Europeans the chance to support fully the Iraqi people and their elected government. That support can take many forms -- military, capacity-building, political support -- but it needs to be unstinting.”

Fried also spoke of the United States and Europe reaching out to the Iranian people and offering an “agenda of hope for Iran.”

The Iranian government, he said, is determined to develop nuclear weapons, supports terrorism and is “hostile to democracy in principle,” and the anti-Semitic statements of its president are “ugly.”

But “we should not now accept that theocracy and isolation are the fate or desire of the Iranian people,” Fried said. “International pressure on the regime may increase in 2006, as surely it should, but the world's democracies should at the same time reach out to the Iranian people. In addition to our efforts to deal with the nuclear challenge, in 2006 the United States and Europe should offer an agenda for hope for Iran.”

Finally, in 2006 the United States and Europe should “reach out, assist and empower reforms in the Broader Middle East,” Fried said. “We must not be impatient, but we have started and we must keep faith with our values and with those in the region who share them.”
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U.N. Security Council Wants Militias in Lebanon Disarmed

State's Bolton says council's statement outlines Syria's failures

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The U.N. Security Council issued a formal presidential statement putting pressure on Syria and Lebanon to comply with the council's 16-month-old resolution designed to restore Lebanese independence.

The statement, which reflects the unanimous agreement of the 15 council members, was issued January 23. It said that significant progress has been made toward implementation of Resolution 1559 since it was issued September 2, 2004, as a result of the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon and Lebanon holding free and credible parliamentary elections in May 2005 and June 2005.

But the council noted with regret that other provisions of Resolution 1559 have yet to be implemented, "particularly the disbanding and disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and the extension of government control over all Lebanese territory and free and fair presidential elections conducted according to the Lebanese constitutional rules without foreign interference and influence," the statement said.

"The council calls on the Lebanese Government to sustain its efforts to achieve progress on all these issues in accordance with Resolution 1559 and to pursue a broad national dialogue and the council calls on all other parties concerned, in particular the Government of Syria, to cooperate to this end," the council said in the statement read by Council President Ambassador Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton characterized the council's statement as "a clear delineation of Syria's failure to comply with many significant aspects" of the resolution as well as a "clear, unanimous signal from the Security Council on what Syria still has to do."

Bolton specifically mentioned Syria's "failure to disarm the Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, the failure to allow free and fair presidential elections, the continued terrorist attacks."

"The Syrians need to take it very seriously," the ambassador said of the presidential statement.
Resolution 1559 set out the Security Council's support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon. It also set out a number of specific requirements that must be met to end foreign influence in that country including the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, the disbanding of all militias and extension of government control throughout the country.

Bolton also listed other actions Syria must undertake to establish normal relations with Lebanon, including the exchange of ambassadors and demarcation of the border.

The United States is "paying particular attention" to presidential elections, he said.

The Security Council's presidential statement "makes it very clear that the election of the next president should be pursuant to constitutional procedures that are not unduly influenced by foreign pressure. It ought to be a Lebanese decision about a Lebanese president," Bolton said.

The statement did not set a deadline for either Syrian or Lebanese compliance. But Bolton said that he is "waiting for the sound of Syrian compliance."

The text of the Security Council president’s statement is available on the U.N. Web site.

Some related posts:

-Bush, Americans and Spreading Democracy

-Rice, Foreign Policy and Promoting Freedom

-WORLD FREEDOM 2005

-The Realities of Promoting Democracy

-Promoting Freedom and Democracy is a Vital Part of the War on Terror

-The bases of the U.S. Mideast policy

-Terror and democracy in the Middle East

-U.S. National Intelligence Strategy Highlights Democracy Promotion

-Iraq and Lebanon: Ongoing Liberation

1.26.2006

The Realities of Promoting Democracy

The President Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom" is working across the world. The progress has been acknowledged by the Freedom House through its annual survey of 2005. And according to the Freedom House, the 2005 was "one of the most successful for freedom" since the survey was begun in 1972.

The Middle East, as the Freedom House has indicated, has the notable progress in the last year's survey. I can assure that the Middle East has the best freedom situation ever after the Bush's initiative. Nonetheless, it is just the beginning and there is a lot must be done in the next years.

The Washington Post has published a report on the realities of promoting democracy worldwide. Apart from its conclusion of the mixed progress, (!) it has made a huge and intolerable mistake when it titled the report "The Realities of Exporting Democracy." Exporting!

I need to make something clear here. Democracy is not a commodity for sale or export. If so, we would buy it a long time ago. These terms used and promoted by some American media and think-tanks are misleading and make no sense.

In fact, the issue is that we want to establish, develop, or sustain a democratic system in our countries. For that, we want and need the international support, this needed support has many aspects and ranges from political cover to pressuring the de facto repressing regimes, and including the technical assistance. We can not deal with the brutal tyrants but the international community can, this must be clear to everyone concerned or interested in the question of promoting democracy and the Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom."

The current American administration clearly understands that and deals with successfully but many others do not get it, maybe they do not want.

Some related posts:

-WORLD FREEDOM 2005
-Bush, Americans and Spreading Democracy
-Rice, Foreign Policy and Promoting Freedom

Here is the Washington Post's report:


The Realities of Exporting Democracy

A Year After Bush Recast Foreign Policy, Progress Remains Mixed

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 25, 2006; Page A01

Sitting in a prison cell halfway around the planet, an Egyptian opposition leader forced President Bush this month to confront the question of how serious he was when he vowed to devote his second term to "ending tyranny in our world."

Ayman Nour, who dared challenge Egypt's authoritarian leader in manipulated elections, was sentenced on Christmas Eve to five years on what U.S. officials consider bogus charges. Inside the administration, a debate ensued over whether to shelve a new trade agreement with Egypt in protest. In the end, the trade talks were suspended and an Egyptian negotiating team invited to Washington last week was told it was no longer welcome.

In the year since Bush redefined U.S. foreign policy in his second inaugural address to make the spread of democracy the nation's primary mission, the clarion-call language has resonated in the dungeons and desolate corners of the world. But soaring rhetoric has often clashed with geopolitical reality and competing U.S. priorities.

While the administration has enjoyed notable success in promoting liberty in some places, it has applied the speech's principles inconsistently in others, according to analysts, activists, diplomats and officials. Beyond its focus on Iraq, Washington has stepped up pressure on repressive regimes in countries such as Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe -- where the costs of a confrontation are minimal -- while still gingerly dealing with China, Pakistan, Russia and other countries with strategic and trade significance.

In the Middle East, where the administration has centered its attention, it has promoted elections in the Palestinian territories such as today's balloting for parliament, even as it directed money aimed at clandestinely preventing the radical Islamic group Hamas from winning. And although it has now suspended trade negotiations with Egypt, it did not publicly announce the move, nor has it cut the traditionally generous U.S. aid to Cairo.

"The glass is a quarter full, but we need more of it," said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House, a group that promotes democracy. "The administration deserves credit, but it's just a start."

In its annual survey ranking nations as free, partly free or not free, the group upgraded nine nations or territories in 2005 and downgraded four. Among those deemed freer were Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, where peaceful revolutions overthrew entrenched governments; Lebanon, where Syrian occupation troops were pressured to withdraw; and Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, where trailblazing elections were held. Overall, Freedom House concluded, "the past year was one of the most successful for freedom" since the survey began in 1972.

At the same time, Human Rights Watch released its annual report, upbraiding the Bush administration for undermining its credibility in promoting freedom abroad through its embrace of abusive interrogation tactics in the battle with terrorists. "There's no question that the issue of torture in particular has compromised the U.S. voice, and not only torture but a manifold list of other human rights issues," said the group's associate director, Carroll Bogert.

The broader question is the degree to which Bush's speech marked genuine change in policy rather than so much talk. In many parts of the government, democracy promotion seems still to take a back seat to other goals.

After the government in Uzbekistan massacred hundreds of protesters in Andijan, for instance, the Pentagon resisted any tough response to protect its military base there. Ultimately, even the restrained statements by the U.S. government alienated the autocratic Uzbek president, Islam Karimov, who threw out the U.S. military.

"They come into conflict every day," a senior official said of rival priorities inside the administration. "The question becomes the weight given to the intangible interest in freedom versus the tangible interest in having a base in Uzbekistan, for instance."

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity citing administration rules, called Bush's speech "a weapon in the hands of everyone in the administration who is pushing for a stronger and stronger democracy agenda."

"Anytime there's a question, should we say this or say that . . . someone can pull out a copy of the president's speech and say, 'Wait a second, may I quote from what the president said?' " the official added.

Outside the United States, the speech inspired many fighting for freedom but also raised expectations that are hard to fulfill. "All they do is talk right now," said Gulam Umarov. His father, Sanjar Umarov, head of the opposition Sunshine Coalition in Uzbekistan, has been in prison since October. "I don't know what actual moves they take. But they are talking, which is really good."

In other places, the United States has done more than talk. In Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. government funded pro-democracy groups and provided generators to print an opposition newspaper before its revolution. Edil Baisalov, director of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, can quote extensively from the Bush inaugural speech. "The Kyrgyz people are much, much better off today than they were a year ago, and I think the U.S. government should take pride in taking credit for that," he said. "And [it] should never apologize that it wants the people to be free."

In Belarus, another former Soviet republic ruled by an iron-fisted leader, Bush's words also stir hope. "We draw strength from these statements," said Vladimir Kolas, chairman of the Council of the Belarusian Intelligentsia opposing President Alexander Lukashenko. "We understand there are limits to what the U.S. can do. But we do need strong and decisive statements . . . that they will not recognize falsified election results."

The Bush administration has been willing to stay tough on Belarus and others it labeled "outposts of tyranny," such as Burma and Zimbabwe. Bush lobbied Asian leaders at a November summit in South Korea to bring Burma before the U.N. Security Council, and as a result the council had an unprecedented discussion last month. The United States also renewed economic sanctions adopted in 2003.

Opposition activists in Burma said they were grateful for U.S. efforts to highlight repression in their country. But despite these measures, little has changed, and some diplomats believe the situation has deteriorated. More than 1,100 political prisoners are behind bars, according to Amnesty International, and all regional offices of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy remain shuttered.

In Zimbabwe, U.S. Ambassador Christopher W. Dell has been so outspoken about President Robert Mugabe's government that he has been threatened with expulsion. David Coltart, an opposition member of parliament, said Zimbabwe has been on the Bush administration's radar screen, even if not the president's. "George Bush is too preoccupied by Iraq to be personally engaged in the Zimbabwe crisis," he said. "But Colin Powell certainly was a friend of those struggling to bring democracy. It's too early to say whether Condoleezza Rice is focused on Zimbabwe."

Elsewhere, the U.S. hand is not seen as readily. In East Africa, newspapers are filled with columns asking why the Bush administration ignores their undemocratic leaders. After violence spilled into the streets of Uganda's capital when President Yoweri Museveni changed the constitution to run for a third term, Washington was silent. Museveni also jailed his opponent on what critics call trumped-up charges of treason and rape.

In Ethiopia, where 40 people were killed by government forces firing into crowds protesting fraudulent elections, Ethiopians complained that it took months for U.S. officials to speak out. "Does the Bush administration care about fighting terrorism for its citizens or does it care about the political situation in a Third World country like Ethiopia?" asked Tamrat G. Giorgis, managing editor of Fortune, one of Ethiopia's few independent newspapers. "I think Africans are asking that question, and we know the war on terror is more important."

When it comes to places such as China and Russia, the Bush administration prefers private friendly advice to ringing public denunciations. Sometimes it passes on both. Although U.S. officials have said they would like Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who took over Pakistan in a military coup, to give up his army post and govern as a civilian, Musharraf said last year that Bush has never raised the issue with him.

"I know presidents and diplomats are not dissidents and when they say they can achieve more in private talks, they may be sincere," said Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, a human rights organization under pressure from the Kremlin. "But I would still like to hear more. And maybe it will have an effect on our president."

Then there are Iran and North Korea, the two top enemies on Bush's list. The president appointed a special envoy on human rights in North Korea, but Abdollah Momeni of the Office for Fostering Unity, an Iranian student group, wants more constructive help. "If they only make noises about this, or if they think that through military action democracy can be achieved, they are moving on the wrong path," said Momeni, who is appealing a five-year prison sentence. "Military action against a country would dry up the democratic blossoms." But, he added, "more action and less talking is needed."

And there is Egypt, one of the most problematic places for the Bush democracy push. When President Hosni Mubarak agreed to let challengers run against him for the first time, a visiting Laura Bush praised the "wise and bold" move. But shortly after she left, Mubarak supporters orchestrated attacks on democracy demonstrators. The presidential election was manipulated, and a subsequent parliamentary election degenerated into violence and mass arrests.

The arrest of Nour, who won an unprecedented 7 percent against Mubarak, presented a singular challenge to Bush, who promised in his inaugural address to stand with "democratic reformers facing repression, prison or exile." The White House pronounced itself "deeply troubled" and demanded Mubarak "release Mr. Nour from detention."

Nour remains behind bars.

Correspondents Peter Finn in Moscow, Ellen Nakashima and Alan Sipress in Jakarta, Craig Timberg in Johannesburg, Karl Vick in Tehran, Emily Wax in Nairobi, and Daniel Williams in Istanbul contributed to this report.

When Iranians Break Silence

The totalitarianism could not produce but brutality and terror. The dictators who murder and destroy their own peoples, are, by their nature, support and export terror to terrorize the free world and support the other dictators whom in need of their support to maintain the regional tyranny. In the totalitarian states, the domestic and foreign policy are connected and integrated by the same objective and the same decision-making, they maintain one nature.

Many times, I pointed out that totalitarianism, by its nature, constitutes one integrated and interdependent system. The terror is one aspect of this system, and it is integrated into this system by the alliance of convenience and operation.

Read this op-ed on the Washington Post:

A Web Witness to Iranian Brutality

By Anne Applebaum

The Washington Post
Friday, January 20, 2006; Page A17

Enter the Web site: http://www.abfiran.org/ . Click on "Omid: A Memorial," and then "Search." Enter a name -- or a religion, a nationality, an alleged crime. One by one, the stories will transfix you.

Atefeh Rajabi , a 16-year-old schoolgirl: Executed by hanging in Neka, Aug. 15, 2004, for "acts incompatible with chastity."

Azizullah Gulshani : Executed by the state in Mashad , April 29, 1982, for "promoting the dirty, non-Islamic sect of Bahaism."

Ali Akbar Tabatabai : Executed by extrajudicial shooting in Maryland, July 23, 1980, for an "unknown revolutionary offense."

Many of the entries are frustrating. There is "no information on this case," or else the information -- from official sources, exile groups, human rights groups -- is sparse. Dates are missing, photographs are missing, and although the site has English and Farsi links to nearly 10,000 political victims of the Islamic Republic of Iran, thousands more haven't even been entered yet.

But this, say Ladan and Roya Boroumand, is only the beginning: Their "Omid" Web site, named for the word "hope" in Farsi, is a living project that will expand as relatives of the victims of the Iranian Islamic regime add to it, correct it, change it. The launch today -- on the 25th anniversary of the Iranian students' release of American hostages -- is in part a bid for the support and the readers they need to expand the site further. It's also a bid for successors. "If the regime kills us," explains Ladan matter-of-factly, "we hope someone else will take up the task."

The Boroumands are sisters, both with French PhDs, both with other (now abandoned) careers, both daughters of Abdorrahman Boroumand, an anti-Shah, anti-Islamicist Iranian democrat. Boroumand was murdered by agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Paris on April 18, 1991, and the sisters know they could meet the same fate: The Iranian regime has a record of killing its opponents outside the country, usually with impunity. In less serious moments, the sisters tease each other, using jokes that admittedly don't sound funny in print ("Don't worry, you will have a privileged place among the extrajudicially murdered on the Web site.")

The project that endangers them is also one they found psychologically necessary. "When you are a witness to something terrible and you don't do anything about it, you are ashamed," explains Ladan. "How many nightmares I had: My father is in prison, and I cannot get to him, I cannot bring him food. . . . Since we started this project, I feel calmer." They believe that thousands of Iranians are consumed by the same shame and will want to help build this online archive -- or even someday, in a democratic Iran, a real victims' archive.

In their more optimistic moments, the Boroumands also hope that the mere act of participating in the project will remind Iranians that even in a totalitarian society, people are not entirely powerless. They can remember crimes, they can name the perpetrators and they can try to hold them to account. For that reason, the site also links to an extensive library of human rights documents, some translated into Farsi for the first time. Too many Iranians, the sisters say, feel that the terrible things that have occurred since the Islamic revolution of 1979 are "not their fault." But if you take responsibility for remembering the regime's crimes, soon you might also want to take responsibility for halting them. And that, of course, is the truly revolutionary thought behind the Boroumands' project.

Even if they don't achieve quite so much -- even if the regime successfully blocks access in Iran, or if Iranians remain too afraid to contribute -- the sisters are betting that their online archive will embarrass those members of the Iranian regime who still try to hide the true nature of their revolution from the outside world. At least until last week, when the Iranian president announced his intention to start enriching uranium, many in the United States and especially Europe were still arguing that Iran's government had mellowed, that Iran should be treated as a normal trading partner and a normal member of the international community. If nothing else, http://www.abfiran.org/ should make outsiders forever wary of that claim.

"At the minimum," Ladan says, "we are creating a database which academics and scholars will find useful. At the maximum, we start a real public debate about the regime's crimes in Iran -- and ultimately about accountability, due process and democracy." It is, she says, "a gamble." In more ways than one, she is right.

1.22.2006

FOR THE FREE LEBANON


Forty days ago, the Representative and journalist Gebran Tueni was assassinated for freedom and for the free Lebanon in the string of killing and terror Lebanon undergoes. It was painful and hurting with no cure. We lost a hero, striver and guide; we lost the brave-and-free-until-death word. He had known by official memos from Lebanese and international sources that his name is on the killing list, but the fearless man wanted to liberate Lebanon and paid his life for liberating Lebanon besides the other Lebanese freedom's martyrs.

They killed Gebran but they can not ever kill freedom and the free Lebanon, which Gebran paid his life for. Gebran died for Lebanon to live and for freedom to prevail. I have just watched the Gebran's memorial Mass at the Orthodox church of St. George in Beirut on the TV. The metropolitan (bishop), who has known Gebran for a long time, talked of Gebran's freedom, love, courage and transparency, the always-free Gebran who always loved Lebanon and strived for until death. Apparently, that the Lebanese knows the problem and got the message, the freedom and transparency are forbidden in Lebanon under death penalty. But the Lebanese rejected it and chose freedom, the Gebran's way, because he lighted up the way and made the paradigm.

Nobody can take Gebran off our hearts, he will live there forever, and he will always be our guiding light. When he died, he got our ultimate promise that we will stay the course, his course, and Lebanon will be always free and from it, the freedom will spread to where he wanted it to spread.

Gebran Tueni, rest in peace; Lebanon is free.

Rice, Foreign Policy and Promoting Freedom

Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, wrote an extremely important article "The Promise of Democratic Peace: Why Promoting Freedom Is the Only Realistic Path to Security." Besides her statecraft acknowledged by the world, she illustrates her scholarship as a professor of political science and specialist in international relations.

This article is must read, it illuminates key facts and norms of the international system in their historical context, explains the way the U.S. is dealing with the world affairs and problems --especially in the Middle East-- and the concepts it rests on and informs about the notions and foundations of the U.S. national security as perceived by the administration.

I have previously written something alike in many earlier posts, but this article is the best to explain and clarify the perspective I adopt. It is the professor and practitioner's article.

This article would be a historic document. Remember that I said that.

Some related posts:

-Defining the Iraqi Question
-Bush, Americans and Spreading Democracy
-Promoting Freedom and Democracy is a Vital Part of the War on Terror
-The bases of the U.S. Mideast policy
-Terror and democracy in the Middle East
-U.S. National Intelligence Strategy Highlights Democracy Promotion


Here is the Rice's article:

The Promise of Democratic Peace:
Why Promoting Freedom Is the Only Realistic Path to Security

By Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Secretary of State

Soon after arriving at the State Department earlier this year, I hung a portrait of Dean Acheson in my office. Over half a century ago, as America sought to create the world anew in the aftermath of World War II, Acheson sat in the office that I now occupy. And I hung his picture where I did for a reason.

Like Acheson and his contemporaries, we live in an extraordinary time -- one in which the terrain of international politics is shifting beneath our feet and the pace of historical change outstrips even the most vivid imagination. My predecessor's portrait is a reminder that in times of unprecedented change, the traditional diplomacy of crisis management is insufficient. Instead, we must transcend the doctrines and debates of the past and transform volatile status quos that no longer serve our interests. What is needed is a realistic statecraft for a transformed world.

President Bush outlined the vision for it in his second inaugural address: "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." This is admittedly a bold course of action, but it is consistent with the proud tradition of American foreign policy, especially such recent presidents as Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Most important: Like the ambitious policies of Truman and Reagan, our statecraft will succeed not simply because it is optimistic and idealistic but also because it is premised on sound strategic logic and a proper understanding of the new realities we face.

Our statecraft today recognizes that centuries of international practice and precedent have been overturned in the past 15 years. Consider one example: For the first time since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the prospect of violent conflict between great powers is becoming ever more unthinkable. Major states are increasingly competing in peace, not preparing for war. To advance this remarkable trend, the United States is transforming our partnerships with nations such as Japan and Russia, with the European Union, and especially with China and India. Together we are building a more lasting and durable form of global stability: a balance of power that favors freedom.

This unprecedented change has supported others. Since its creation more than 350 years ago, the modern state system has always rested on the concept of sovereignty. It was assumed that states were the primary international actors and that every state was able and willing to address the threats emerging from its territory. Today, however, we have seen that these assumptions no longer hold, and as a result the greatest threats to our security are defined more by the dynamics within weak and failing states than by the borders between strong and aggressive ones.

The phenomenon of weak and failing states is not new, but the danger they now pose is unparalleled. When people, goods and information traverse the globe as fast as they do today, transnational threats such as disease or terrorism can inflict damage comparable to the standing armies of nation-states. Absent responsible state authority, threats that would and should be contained within a country's borders can now melt into the world and wreak untold havoc. Weak and failing states serve as global pathways that facilitate the spread of pandemics, the movement of criminals and terrorists, and the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons.

Our experience of this new world leads us to conclude that the fundamental character of regimes matters more today than the international distribution of power. Insisting otherwise is imprudent and impractical. The goal of our statecraft is to help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system. Attempting to draw neat, clean lines between our security interests and our democratic ideals does not reflect the reality of today's world. Supporting the growth of democratic institutions in all nations is not some moralistic flight of fancy; it is the only realistic response to our present challenges.

In one region of the world, however, the problems emerging from the character of regimes are more urgent than in any other. The "freedom deficit" in the broader Middle East provides fertile ground for the growth of an ideology of hatred so vicious and virulent that it leads people to strap suicide bombs to their bodies and fly airplanes into buildings. When the citizens of this region cannot advance their interests and redress their grievances through an open political process, they retreat hopelessly into the shadows to be preyed upon by evil men with violent designs. In these societies, it is illusory to encourage economic reform by itself and hope that the freedom deficit will work itself out over time.

Though the broader Middle East has no history of democracy, this is not an excuse for doing nothing. If every action required a precedent, there would be no firsts. We are confident that democracy will succeed in this region not simply because we have faith in our principles but because the basic human longing for liberty and democratic rights has transformed our world. Dogmatic cynics and cultural determinists were once certain that "Asian values," or Latin culture, or Slavic despotism, or African tribalism would each render democracy impossible. But they were wrong, and our statecraft must now be guided by the undeniable truth that democracy is the only assurance of lasting peace and security between states, because it is the only guarantee of freedom and justice within states.

Implicit within the goals of our statecraft are the limits of our power and the reasons for our humility. Unlike tyranny, democracy by its very nature is never imposed. Citizens of conviction must choose it -- and not just in one election. The work of democracy is a daily process to build the institutions of democracy: the rule of law, an independent judiciary, free media and property rights, among others. The United States cannot manufacture these outcomes, but we can and must create opportunities for individuals to assume ownership of their own lives and nations. Our power gains its greatest legitimacy when we support the natural right of all people, even those who disagree with us, to govern themselves in liberty.

The statecraft that America is called to practice in today's world is ambitious, even revolutionary, but it is not imprudent. A conservative temperament will rightly be skeptical of any policy that embraces change and rejects the status quo, but that is not an argument against the merits of such a policy. As Truman once said, "The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred." In times of extraordinary change such as ours, when the costs of inaction outweigh the risks of action, doing nothing is not an option. If the school of thought called "realism" is to be truly realistic, it must recognize that stability without democracy will prove to be false stability, and that fear of change is not a positive prescription for policy.

After all, who truly believes, after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that the status quo in the Middle East was stable, beneficial and worth defending? How could it have been prudent to preserve the state of affairs in a region that was incubating and exporting terrorism; where the proliferation of deadly weapons was getting worse, not better; where authoritarian regimes were projecting their failures onto innocent nations and peoples; where Lebanon suffered under the boot heel of Syrian occupation; where a corrupt Palestinian Authority cared more for its own preservation than for its people's aspirations; and where a tyrant such as Saddam Hussein was free to slaughter his citizens, destabilize his neighbors and undermine the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians? It is sheer fantasy to assume that the Middle East was just peachy before America disrupted its alleged stability.

Had we believed this, and had we done nothing, consider all that we would have missed in just the past year: A Lebanon that is free of foreign occupation and advancing democratic reform. A Palestinian Authority run by an elected leader who openly calls for peace with Israel. An Egypt that has amended its constitution to hold multiparty elections. A Kuwait where women are now full citizens. And, of course, an Iraq that in the face of a horrific insurgency has held historic elections, drafted and ratified a new national charter, and will go to the polls again in coming days to elect a new constitutional government.

At this time last year, such unprecedented progress seemed impossible. One day it will all seem to have been inevitable. This is the nature of extraordinary times, which Acheson understood well and described perfectly in his memoirs. "The significance of events," he wrote, "was shrouded in ambiguity. We groped after interpretations of them, sometimes reversed lines of action based on earlier views, and hesitated long before grasping what now seems obvious." When Acheson left office in 1953, he could not know the fate of the policies he helped to create. He certainly could never have predicted that nearly four decades later, war between Europe's major powers would be unthinkable, or that America and the world would be harvesting the fruits of his good decisions and managing the collapse of communism. But because leaders such as Acheson steered American statecraft with our principles when precedents for action were lacking, because they dealt with their world as it was but never believed they were powerless to change it for the better, the promise of democratic peace is now a reality in all of Europe and in much of Asia.

When I walk past Acheson's portrait upon departing my office for the last time, no one will be able to know the full scope of what our statecraft has achieved. But I have an abiding confidence that we will have laid a firm foundation of principle -- a foundation on which future generations will realize our nation's vision of a fully free, democratic and peaceful world.

(end)

1.19.2006

Bush, Americans and Spreading Democracy

There was an article on the LA Times about President Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom" or the new American strategy of promoting democracy worldwide.

I will post it in addition to my comments:


Skepticism at Home Threatens Bush's Vision

· Americans like the idea of spreading democracy; they just don't believe it will work, polls show.

By Tyler Marshall, Times Staff Writer
Nearly a year after President Bush declared that America had to push the boundaries of democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere to assure the survival of its own freedom, his initiative has met with stiff resistance abroad.
Dictators can not embrace freedom or democracy, they can just fight them and their supporters.


But the real Achilles' heel of Bush's grand vision may lie in a lack of support at home.

A task that Bush has called "the concentrated work of generations" requires enough backing both in Congress and in the general population to carry the idea beyond Bush's own presidency, U.S. foreign policy specialists argue.

To succeed, Bush needs the kind of solid, unchallenged backing the nation gave over four decades to the strategy of containing the Soviet Union and its allies, said Steven A. Cook, a leading expert on democracy in the Middle East who directed a recent study for the New York city-based Council on Foreign Relations.

"There needs to be the same agreement on political change in the Middle East," Cook said. By most accounts, Bush has a long way to go.


Particularly, what President Bush and the supporters of this strategy need is that the Advance Democracy Act (The House bill HR 1133 and the Senate bill S 516) be passed by the Senate.

As I know, the American people support or do not object this bill.


Bush said last January in his second inaugural address that U.S. policy was "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture."

Opinion polls indicate Americans are not averse to Bush's idea. They just don't think it can work. Only one-third of Americans believe expanding democracy in the Middle East is a good idea that can succeed, according to a survey published in November by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington. The rest either consider it a bad idea or think it stands no chance of success.

"There's almost no evidence the public, even Bush's strongest supporters, have embraced or are enthusiastic about spreading democracy," said Andrew Kohut, Pew center executive director.

Kohut described public support among Americans for the idea as about the same today as it was a decade ago. It's not hard to understand why.

Those are understandable indicators. The American people, although they like the idea of spreading democracy, know a little about the Middle East, authoritarianism and the serious effects of the current situation in the Middle East on the American security and national interests. Considering that the American people did not experience ever the authoritarianism and tyranny.

Furthermore, the myth of isolationism constitutes a conventional belief to the public. That causes a public indifference to the international affairs due to the thought that America can solely maintain its prosperity and security with no concern for the world realities. This conception was fallen in 9/11 but it will need some time to the public to comprehend the new facts and their implications.

In this sense, President Bush's vision is advanced and progressive initiative, responds transparently and outright to 9/11 in a strategic pursuit to handle the U.S. security and the related structural instabilities in the Middle East and the world order's deficit in a sustainable way and to decades to come. Who think that solely tactical response can handle successfully the security issue is definitely shortsighted and do not realize the nature and scope of this issue.

President Bush has adopted this advanced strategy because he is a brave and devoted man and has insightful and enlightened position through depending on distinguished scholars like Professor Rice the Secretary of State who taught the political science and has the scholarship in the totalitarian Soviet Union.

Remember clearly that this opinion came from the Middle East.


In a world awash in anti-American sentiment, the administration's push to promote democracy abroad has brought new electoral influence to Islamist parties in the Middle East and to other groups elsewhere holding anti-U.S. views.

Did the world ever love its prime power or only-super power? I do not think so. However, the international relations of love are something would not interest me at all. The international power, I believe, has international responsibilities must undertake and international challenges must face and cope with, to get the world fallen in love with it, is not of them.

On the electoral influence, do we have in the Middle East free and fair elections? Did any of these elections take place without a pressure by the Bush administration? Do the peoples of the Middle East including Islamists need the anti-Americanism or their freedom?


Just as problematic for Bush are the hurdles at home. He has been so focused on halting the erosion of public support for the Iraq war that once-frequent promotion of democratic advances, including references to countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon and Egypt, have been omitted from his recent speeches.

And with Washington sharply divided on partisan lines, promotion of democracy remains closely associated with Bush personally in the public mind.

"When he goes, it will go," predicted a senior administration official who declined to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the issue. "We haven't sold the policy as well as we should have."

Bush's initiative faces other hurdles, such as possible failure in Iraq and a growing public resistance to extending the United States' global commitments beyond Iraq.


It is also our responsibility, we the Middle East reformers, to communicate with the Americans to illuminate the importance of this policy and its prospects and achievements here in the Middle East.

I think that many think tanks, scholars and politicians from the two parties believe in the democratic peace and will embrace this policy. Furthermore, Bush's legacy, which is exceptional in the post-cold war period, would be a watershed in the U.S. and Middle East and a cornerstone to the post-9/11 policies and international order because of its realistic identification of the international problems and challenges and their solutions. Besides, does anybody believe that freedom march could be stopped?

The foundation of change in the Middle East has become a reality, and the geopolitics of the Middle East is progressively evolving. And the old regional system could not be backed up, the Arab dictators' system was breached and seriously damaged, so the freedom march proceeds there.


Despite all this, some moderate Republicans and Democrats in Congress are eager to embrace the core of Bush's view that greater political freedom enhances stability and thus reduces the potential dangers to the nation.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo), the senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, last year introduced a bill that would make promoting democracy a fundamental component of U.S. foreign policy. The bill was passed by the House in August and is awaiting action by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where its chances are viewed as good."

On a bipartisan basis, there are enough of us in Congress to keep this idea going," Lantos said in an interview.

Lantos added, however, that expectations must be reduced.

"The use of the term 'democracy' must undergo a dramatic transformation in dealing with countries like Iraq, Afghanistan or many other countries in the world," he said. "No one who is rational would expect to see Jeffersonian democracy in the short run.

"When you define the goal in more realistic terms — less brutality, fewer killings, fewer gulags, a society that's somewhat more open and tolerant — that's not just a plausible long-term policy, but the only long-term policy for the United States."


It would be great to America and the world if the majority of democrats have the Rep. Lantos' experience and insight.


Still, Bush's ability to build a lasting consensus for his democracy initiative remains unclear. In the recent congressional fight over renewing the Patriot Act and a debate over electronic surveillance, Bush's political instincts have been more to push back than reach out.

"He needs to reach out more to Democrats to actively solicit and foster the kind of bipartisanship that we had in the Cold War," said Larry Diamond, an expert on democracy development at Stanford University's Hoover Institution who served as a senior advisor in the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. "If he tries to involve Democrats, gives them a sense of ownership with what we are doing on these kinds of policies, I think he'll have success."


When we are talking about the U.S. national security and its role, interests and responsibilities in the world, I suppose that normally concerns the both parties. And the "sense of ownership" could not be granted in democracies. The issue is, given that many democrats have pathological hatred for Bush, whom should be blamed for that?



Diamond and other specialists also believe Bush must do more to involve allies. Americans tend to be more supportive of U.S. involvement overseas when traditional partners are involved.

The European Union runs a parallel democracy promotion program for the Middle East, and many Europeans resent pressure to join the U.S.-sponsored counterpart.

"We're doing the same thing, working in the same areas, so don't ask us to use our checkbook twice," said a Washington-based European diplomat who declined to be identified by name or nationality because of the subject's sensitivity.

They are doing what? After ten years of the Barcelona Process, can this European diplomat tell us about their achievements concerning the Middle East political reform? Did they include a region in which the violence became a culture; more intense dictatorships; imprisoned and endangered liberals and reformers and destroyed civil society? Very far from a ten months of Bush, because the Europeans, we believe in the Middle East, are not sincere in this pursuit and do not have the required relevant means. Otherwise, they would join the American efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East, especially that the American administration is trying to create international institutions like the Forum for the Future, and to internationalize these efforts through introducing related initiatives at the UN, NATO and G8.


Tamara Wittes, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington, faults Bush for trying to sell democracy more as a tool for moderating extremist behavior than for stabilizing nations.

The democratic system, by its very nature, is a stabilizing structure, embracing freedom, providing advanced political means for compromise and ruling in the state, and acknowledges and applies the peaceful means and isolates and punishes the extremists and political violence.

It is very useful for many to read a publication of the Department of State on the basics of democracy in addition to a careful read of President Bush's speeches. And to pay attention to the simple fact that the American people, at first, concerned for their security before stabilizing nations. The connection between these two is a responsibility of the real scholars and researchers to explain aside from propaganda and propagandists.


"By emphasizing the argument that this changes the way people think, that people won't want to blow up Americans, you could envision support for the democracy agenda collapsing in another terrorist attack," she said. "When you're talking about making a generational effort vulnerable to one attack, I don't think it can work."
Nonsense and irresponsible mixing between the security tactics and the generational strategy; has the Middle East become free and democratic?
Do the Germans and Japanese want to blow up Americans?

The terrorist activity and the associated totalitarian and authoritarian governments in the world are reasons for which we should support the democratic agenda all the way.

1.17.2006

News Concerning Middle East Reform

This is the news section of the current issue of the Arab Reform Bulletin Published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:


Iraq: Parties and Platforms in Parliamentary Elections

More than 7,700 candidates ran as independents or as members of political parties in 19 coalitions in December 15 elections for the first full-term Iraqi parliament since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. The 275-member assembly will serve four years and form a new government. Results are expected in late December.

Major political alliances resemble dominant groupings in January 2004 elections, but new groups have also entered the scene. The elections will be contested by a major Sunni alliance known as the Iraqi Concord Front, composed of three Sunni parties that boycotted the January elections: the Iraqi People's Gathering, the Iraqi National Dialogue, and the Iraqi Islamic Party. The list calls for withdrawing U.S. troops, amending the constitution, and releasing all “detainees and prisoners of war.” The Iraqi Front for National Dialogue led by Saleh Al Mutlaq, a secular Sunni businessman with reported links to Sunni insurgents, will also participate. The participation of Sunni parties will probably guarantee greater representation of Sunni Arabs, who currently occupy only 6 percent of parliamentary seats.

The United Iraqi Alliance retains its position as the main Shiite list. It is not expected to win an outright majority on its own this time (it took nearly half of the 275 seats in the transitional parliament). Led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, it is composed of 18 Shiite Islamist groups including the three major Shiite movements: the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Dawa party, and the movement led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr. The list has promised to crack down on the insurgency and corruption after criticism of its failure to handle both issues during its ten months in office. Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq, has not explicitly backed the alliance.

The Kurdistan Alliance is still the main Kurdish bloc, composed of eight groups but dominated by Iraqi President's Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party. Its priority is maximizing the autonomy of the Kurdish region and controlling the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, which has a mixed Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen population. It is also expected to win fewer seats than the 75 it currently has and it will face competition from the Kurdistan Islamic Union, an Islamist group that has left the alliance.

Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi continues to lead the secular Iraqi National List, although he expanded it to include Sunni figures as well as communists and liberals. The list calls for national unity and an open Iraqi society that renounces sectarianism in political work. It also advocates revising the de-Baathification laws to return more former officers in the Iraqi army to the new security forces. Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi also leads a secular party, the National Congress for Iraq. It stresses the need for Iraq to regain full sovereignty and fight the insurgency by improving intelligence. The Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq includes complete lists of candidates.


Egypt: Parliamentary Election Results and Nour Trial

Official results of the November/December elections for the People's Assembly (the lower house of parliament) are as follows:

National Democratic Party 311 seats

Muslim Brotherhood independents 88 seats

Unaffiliated independents 22 seats

Wafd Party 6 seats

Tagammu Party 2 seats

Karama Party independents 2 seats

Ghad Party dissidents 1 seat

Postponed races 12 seats

Appointees 10 seats

Total 454 seats

According to the electoral commission, 26 percent of eligible voters participated in the elections, which were held on a winner-take-all system, with two candidates (one of whom had to be a worker or farmer) elected in each district.

Election monitors organized by civil society groups reported numerous violations, particularly in the second and third rounds. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights complained of NDP-organized violence to discourage opposition voters and criticized the Egyptian authorities for closing off many polling stations. Click here for detailed reports by the organization on electoral irregularities. The Independent Committee on Election Monitoring, a coalition of sixteen NGOs led by the Ibn Khaldun Center for Human Rights, condemned the arrest of opposition candidates and reported that election observers were denied access to polling stations. An earlier joint statement by the National Campaign for Monitoring Elections, the Shadow Committee for Monitoring Elections, and the Civil Society Election Monitoring Observatory reported incidents of voter-coercion and vote-buying. Media watchdog groups such as Reporters without Borders voiced alarm at attacks on journalists covering the elections by security forces.

President Hosni Mubarak appointed ten additional members to the People's Assembly, including five Christians and five women, and will address the new People's Assembly and the Shura Council on December 17. Mubarak is also expected to reshuffle the cabinet by the end of December.

Ayman Nour, leader of the Liberal Al Ghad Party, was jailed once again on December 6, along with several other defendants. His trial on charges of forging signatures on his party's application for licensing is due to conclude December 24. Nour, who recently lost his parliamentary seat to a former security officer backed by the ruling NDP, has begun a hunger strike to protest his treatment.


Palestine: Confusion in Fatah after Primaries, Final Round of Municipal Elections, Judicial Law Overturned

There was confusion in the Palestinian Fatah party following the primaries due to a dispute over candidates for the January 25 Palestinian Legislative Council elections. Held in two rounds between November 25 and December 3, the primaries marked a major victory for Fatah's young guard leadership, led by jailed leader Marwan Barghouti. Barghouti, who received 95 percent of votes in Ramallah, demanded the top slot on Fatah 's list. Angered by President Mahmoud Abbas's decision to include senior members in the final electoral list even though lost their races, Barghouti presented his own list to the Palestinian Central Election Committee shortly before the December 14 deadline for registering candidates. Barghouti's Al Mustaqbal (Future) list includes prominent Fatah members such as Mohammad Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub Kadoura Fares, and Samir Masharawi. There were reports, however, that Fatah also placed Barghouti at the top of its official list. It is unclear how the Central Elections Commission will respond to Barghouti's name appearing on both lists. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie resigned on December 15 to run for a parliamentary seat on Fatah's list.

The Fatah primaries were marked by violence and violations of voting procedures, with voting in Hebron, Jerusalem, Tulkarem, Salfit, and Rafah aborted. Losers from the primaries challenged the validity of the results in nearly every district.

Hamas also announced its list of candidates on December 14. Headed by Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's List for Change and Reform consists of 62 members, many of whom are academics, physicians, and university professors, and includes prominent Hamas leaders such as Mahmoud Zahar. Some independent lists have also been formed, such as that of Salam Fayyad, the recently resigned finance minister, activist Hanan Ashrawi, and Yasser Abd Rabbo. Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestine Initiative party who ran in the presidential elections, also formed his own list. The election campaign is scheduled to begin on January 3.

The final phase of municipal elections began on December 15 in several West Bank cities and Gaza amid tight competition between Hamas and Fatah. Competition is centered on the West Bank's largest cities of Nablus, Ramallah, Beira and Jenin, and in three small towns in Gaza . Observers believe the poll will give clear indications about balance of power between Hamas and Fatah ahead of the legislative elections. Phased municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza have been going on for almost a year.

In the latest episode of the ongoing rivalry between the Palestinian judiciary and the executive, the Palestinian High Court overturned the 2005 Judiciary Law on November 27. Claiming jurisdiction as a constitutional court, the High Court declared the Judiciary Law unconstitutional because it contravenes the Palestinian Basic Law. The Judiciary Law changed the composition of the judicial council and the appointment procedure for the attorney general in order to transfer authority from the judicial council (which has been accused of abusing its power) to the Ministry of Justice. The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and several Palestinian nongovernmental organizations claim the High Court's decision is illegitimate because it is not entitled to look into constitutional appeals. They also accuse the court of acting on personal motives; the law diminishes the power of those who currently dominate the High Court. This is the first time a piece of PLC legislation has been declared unconstitutional. Click here for more information on the debate.


Jordan: Political Changes after Amman Attacks

Significant political changes have taken place in Jordan following the terrorist attacks in Amman on November 9. After dismissing many of his security advisers and dissolving the 55-member senate, King Abdullah appointed a new cabinet on November 27. Prime Minister Ahmad Badran was replaced by General Marouf al Bakhit, a change many observers believe signals the government's new focus on security. In response to fears that the new security-oriented government will ignore political reforms, King Abdullah's letter of designation calls for a rapid passage of new political laws governing elections and political parties. Prime Minister Bakhit's reply affirmed the government is “committed to placing reform as a top priority” and that it will “maintain a balance between safeguarding security and preserving public freedoms.” Bakhit also pledged to follow the National Agenda that was presented to the King on November 23 after a long delay. The new 23-member cabinet includes fourteen new ministers and nine ministers from the previous cabinet. Click here for a complete list of the new cabinet. There is also speculation about an impending dissolution of parliament.

The government is drafting new anti-terrorism legislation that, according to Interior Ministry officials, will set harsh penalties for anyone who condones or supports acts of terror and will allow authorities to hold any terror suspect indefinitely. Interior Minister Awni Yervas said the new legislation is based on British laws and laws in some Arab states.

New media legislation is also pending. The king will be presented with an amendment of the 1998 Press Association Law that seeks to abolish the provision that prohibits anyone from practicing as a journalist unless they are a member of the Jordanian Press Association. The press association, which is dominated by journalists in media companies that are wholly or partially government-owned, has the authority to punish or expel journalists who express opinions deemed unacceptable under the association's rules.


United Arab Emirates: First Elections Announced

For the first time in its history, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will hold elections for public office. On December 1 President Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan announced that half of the members of the Federal National Council (FNC), the closest body the country has to a parliament, will be indirectly elected. The ruler of each of the seven emirates will form local assemblies which will then elect half the FNC members from among themselves. It is unclear how the local assembly members will be chosen. The other half of the council's members will continue to be appointed by the leaders of the emirates. The 40-member FNC serves in an advisory capacity and lacks legislative powers. No date has been set for elections. The UAE is the only country among the six Gulf Cooperation Council members that has yet to hold any form of elections.


Yemen: Government Crackdown on Media

Yemeni authorities are clamping down on media activity, according to local and international media watchdog groups. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists cites several cases of defamation lawsuits and legal harassment of opposition and independent newspapers in the past month, including the closure of opposition weekly Al Tajammu for six months. Many journalists have also been physically attacked and threatened in recent months for investigating corruption.

The deterioration of press freedom comes as the Yemeni government is preparing to push its draft Press and Publications Law through the Shura Council. The revision to the 1990 law was set in motion in 2004 when President Saleh called for the abolition of prison sentences for journalists. The Yemen Journalists Syndicate opposes the draft law on the grounds that it is even more restrictive than the existing bill. While it eliminates imprisonment of journalists, it still allows journalists to be prosecuted under the penal code, which sanctions prison terms for libeling Yemen's president or foreign leaders. It also allows courts to sentence journalists to death. Click here for a detailed commentary on the draft law by the media advocacy group ARTICLE 19. Observers believe recent restrictions on the media aim at stopping critical reporting, including on the issue of whether President Saleh will honor his pledge to step down next year.


Saudi Arabia: Strategic Dialogue, First Women Elected

The United States and Saudi Arabia inaugurated a strategic dialogue on November 13 to expand cooperation on six issues: counterterrorism, military affairs, energy, business, education and human development, and consular affairs. According to U.S. officials, the dialogue aspires to institutionalize meetings at the senior level in order to address problems that now rely heavily on personal relationships and ad hoc contacts. Political reform is not on the agenda for the dialogue.

In a separate development, two Saudi women, Lama Sulaiman and Nashwa Taher, won seats on the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce on November 30. These are the first elections in Saudi Arabia that allowed women to vote and run for office.


Morocco: Equity and Reconciliation Commission

After two years of investigations, the Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission, presented its findings on human rights abuses committed between 1956 and 1999 to King Mohummad VI. Established by the king in January 2004, the commission will determine the forms and amounts of reparation the state is to provide the 30,000 applicants. A November 28 report by Human Rights Watch offers the Moroccan authorities recommendations on handling the commission's findings.


Foundation and Fund for the Future Announced

Two new foundations to promote political and economic reform in the Middle East were established at the second meeting of the Forum for the Future held in Bahrain on November 11-12. The Foundation for the Future will provide grants to local nongovernmental organizations and the Fund for the Future will provide loans to small businesses in the region. Both will be financed by the United States and by European and Arab governments, but managed by independent boards of directors from the region. The Foundation for the Future will be launched with $50 million in capital, $35 million coming from the U.S. government. The Fund for the Future, which has a target capitalization of $100 million, will focus initial efforts on small enterprises in Egypt and Morocco. Both countries have pledged $20 million to the fund's startup capital and the U.S. has pledged $50 million.

The meeting failed to release a final declaration, partly due to the Egyptian government's disagreement over the language. Egyptian officials pressed for stipulations that only organizations legally registered with their governments would be funded by the Foundation for the Future. Saudi Arabia and Oman initially supported Egypt, but then agreed to take out language that would have given them control over the grants. Founded by the Group of Eight Industrialized Nations (G-8) at their June 2004 summit, the forum has become the centerpiece of the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative. The first Forum for the Future meeting was held in Morocco in December 2004.


Arab Public Opinion Poll on U.S. Foreign Policy

The majority of Arabs doubt that spreading democracy is the real U.S. objective in the region, according to a new public opinion poll, Arab Attitudes towards Political and Social Issues, Foreign Policy and the Media.” Conducted jointly by Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, and Zogby International in October 2005, the survey's findings include the following: 77 percent of those surveyed say Iraqis are worse off now than before the war began in 2003; 58 percent believe the U.S. intervention has produced less democracy in Iraq; 78 percent think there is more terrorism because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The survey, which was released on December 2, also finds that Al Jazeera is the most popular television network for international news, favored by 45 percent of those polled.


New Middle East Freedom Index

A new Economist Intelligence Unit lists Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories as the most democratic Arab countries. On the other hand, Libya received the lowest rating, below Syria and Saudi Arabia. The index ranks 20 countries in the Middle East based on 15 indicators of political and civil liberties. Click here for the complete ranking released November 18.


Upcoming Political Events

  • Iraq: Parliamentary election results, new government, late December
  • Egypt: Verdict in trial of Ayman Nour, December 24; cabinet reshuffle expected late December
  • Palestine: Palestinian Legislative Council elections, January 25, 2006

1.12.2006

Iraq and Lebanon: Ongoing Liberation

Iraq is undergoing a wave of deadly terrorist attacks caused hundreds of civilian casualties. I predicted that in my article posted here on December 17, 2005. I said, "At this point, (the success of the latest elections in Iraq with high and inclusive turnout) the final stake of the totalitarian and terrorist project on the exclusiveness and partiality of the Iraqi political system as a cover for the instability and violence in Iraq has failed. This will be a turning point in their destructive effort towards the chaotic and random violence against civilians".

It was easy to me to predict that given I have lived all my life in a totalitarian state. Hence, the totalitarian means, ways and tactics are well known to me and predictable too. We must not forget that jihadist terror is a one aspect of the totalitarianism and it may be included in the comprehensive totalitarian system and alliance of convenience. I would like to advise the Americans, specially those so-called antiwar, not to speculate a lot on the totalitarian tactics; ask the victims instead, they are more informed and accurate.

On something else, I think it is the first time the American administration gives a definition of the "victory" in Iraq. I consider that as positive and required and indicates an increasing statecraft in the administration's dealing with the situation in Iraq. President Bush in his address to the veterans of foreign wars on January 10, 2006 said, "Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy. Victory will come when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens. Victory will come when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation".

I have previously indicated in my article Defining the Iraqi Question the importance of providing a definition of the victory term in the war in Iraq. And in the same sense of the administration's definition I wrote, "the 'victory' is the establishment of the Iraqi democratic state. This is to say, the establishment of the functioning state institutions under democratic guarantees and foundations, and through a comprehensive and inclusive political process" stressing on the political process and indicating the Iraqis' role on security, "The violence is something familiar and somehow normal in the qualitative and historic changes in the political history. Building the first ever democracy in Iraq and the region in this comprehensive authoritarian environment is something could not be done in 20 months and smoothly. Nobody has expected that. Nevertheless, after establishing the state's new democratic political institutions, the security issue and its implications and requirements, including the political dues, is an Iraqi affair and is of the Iraqis' duties and responsibilities. Here the U.S. will just provide a supportive role inside Iraq and an essential role outside Iraq".

On Lebanese question, the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has made an encouraging and necessary statement to the terrorized Lebanese people after the assassination of the journalist and Representative Gebran Tueni, a symbol of the Cedar Revolution and Lebanese freedom. I described the situation of Lebanon in an earlier post with term "the besieged Lebanon". The timing of this statement is excellent and simultaneous with regional move to restore the old Arab system, the system of pre-Iraq era, which I call the Middle East dictators' system. Just in vain, the freedom could not be stopped.

Here is the related information:

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

Rice Calls on Syria To Comply with U.N. Security Council Demands

Seeks Syrian cooperation with Hariri investigation, disarmament of Hizballah

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Syria to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions that it cooperate with the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and end its support of armed militias and terrorist groups inside Lebanon.

“Syria must cease obstructing the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and instead cooperate fully and unconditionally, as required by U.N. Security Council resolutions,” she said in a January 11 statement. “We intend to refer this matter back to the Security Council if Syrian obstruction continues.”

She also called on Syria to comply fully with the requirements of Resolution 1559, which included the disarmament and disbanding of Hizballah and other militias.

“Syria's continuing provision of arms and other support to Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups serves to destabilize Lebanon, makes possible terrorist attacks within Lebanon, from Lebanese territory, and impedes the full implementation of Security Council resolutions,” she said.

The secretary called on Syria to put an end to all of its interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon.

Following is the text of Rice’s statement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
January 11, 2006

STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE

Syria's Continuing Refusal to Comply with Security Council Resolutions

The United States has grave and continuing concerns about Syria's destabilizing behavior and sponsorship of terrorism. The Syrian regime is obligated to implement UN Security Council resolutions 1546, 1559, 1595, 1636, and 1644. It has failed to do so.

Syria must cease obstructing the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and instead cooperate fully and unconditionally, as required by UN Security Council resolutions. We call upon the Syrian regime to respond positively to the requests of UN Independent International Investigation (UNIIIC). We intend to refer this matter back to the Security Council if Syrian obstruction continues.

The United States stands firmly with the people of Lebanon in rejecting any deals or compromises that would undermine the UNIIC investigation, or relieve Syria of its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. We are firmly committed to seeking justice and pursuing the investigation to its ultimate conclusion.

The United States also calls for the full implementation of all parts of UN Security Council resolution 1559, including the disarmament and disbanding of Hizballah and other militias. Syria's continuing provision of arms and other support to Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups serves to destabilize Lebanon, makes possible terrorist attacks within Lebanon, from Lebanese territory, and impedes the full implementation of Security Council resolutions.

As Resolution 1559 demands, Syria must once and for all end its interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon. Continuing assassinations in Lebanon of opponents of Syrian domination, including most recently the murder of journalist and Member of Parliament Gebran Tueni on December 12, 2005, create an atmosphere of fear that Syria uses to intimidate Lebanon. Syria must cease this intimidation and immediately come into compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions.

(end text)

Related post: The International Community Unifies Over Political Crimes in the Middle East

1.07.2006

U.S. National Intelligence Strategy Highlights Democracy Promotion

Bolstering the growth of democracy in other countries is a top strategic mission for the nation's intelligence agencies, according to the National Intelligence Strategy of the United States of America released on October 26. The document states that the intelligence community must support diplomatic and military efforts when intervention is necessary and forge relationships with new and incipient democracies that can help them strengthen the rule of law and ward off threats to representative government. It must also provide U.S. policymakers with an analytic framework for identifying both the threats to and opportunities for promoting democracy, as well as warning of state failure.

John D. Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, said of this document, "This strategy is a statement of our fundamental values, highest priorities and orientation toward the future, but it is an action document as well. For U.S. national intelligence, the time for change is now.”

The strategic objectives of the National Intelligence according to the National Intelligence Strategy of the United States of America are:


  • Defeat terrorists at home and abroad by disarming their operational capabilities, and seizing the initiative from them by promoting the growth of freedom and democracy.
  • Prevent and counter the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
  • Bolster the growth of democracy and sustain peaceful democratic states.
  • Develop innovative ways to penetrate and analyze the most difficult targets.
  • Anticipate developments of strategic concern and identify opportunities as well as vulnerabilities for decision-makers.

According to the The New York Times

Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, said the rankings were intended to align the work of intelligence agencies with the administration's broader national security goals. . . . At a briefing, Mr. Negroponte said he did not believe that the priorities reflected a significant change from those in place before the overhaul of intelligence agencies and the establishment of his post six months ago. But another senior intelligence official, speaking at the same briefing, said the emphasis reflected an acknowledgment that American agencies needed to do "a better job" in understanding the role played by "soft power."

The Bush administration has seized upon the expansion of democracy abroad as a central theme of foreign policy, especially since President Bush devoted much of his second inaugural address to pledging support for democratic movements "in every nation and culture."

Among other things, the strategy says that "collectors, analysts and operators" within the 15 American intelligence agencies should seek to "forge relationships with new and incipient democracies" in order to help "strengthen the rule of law and ward off threats to representative government."

This is another sign of the American administration's commitment to democracy promotion worldwide and particularly in the Middle East. This commitment rests on the administration's conviction of the necessity of promoting freedom and democracy to the U.S. national security in the post-9/11 international context.

Here are some related statements by U.S. top officials:

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

U.S. Will Continue To Press for Expansion of Freedom in Mideast

The Bush administration will continue working to expand liberty and freedom in the Middle East as part of the U.S. effort to help countries and peoples transform their capabilities to govern themselves, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said January 5.

In the interview with the State Department press corps Rice said:

Obviously, last year and now this year, probably the dominant story in foreign policy has been the changing Middle East. I noted a few days ago when I was watching CNN that there actually is a series about the Middle East and it starts with, "The Middle East is Changing." And I think I would make the argument that indeed the Middle East is changing and changing very dramatically. The President, in his Inaugural Address, Second Inaugural Address, made very clear that it was going to be the policy of the United States to insist that the policies that we followed worldwide about liberty and freedom would also be pursued in the Middle East, and I think something has been unleashed in the Middle East.

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State's Burns Outlines U.S. Trans-Atlantic Agenda for 2006

"Our goal in 2006 is to broaden NATO's mandate and extend its global reach."

By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- A senior State Department official says the U.S. agenda for the trans-Atlantic relationship in 2006 is to broaden NATO’s mandate and extend its global reach; to advance democracy in Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia; and to cooperate with Europe in every region of the world through political, economic and security partnerships.

R. Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, outlined U.S. goals for a European Institute audience December 15 in Washington. The State Department released his remarks December 27.

Burns characterized 2005 as the year Europe and the United States stopped the trans-Atlantic war of words, rediscovered each other and got back to work on the world’s problems, having recognized they are “wed together in a long-term marriage with no possibility of separation or divorce.”

He cited a long list of U.S.-European achievements in 2005, ranging from Lebanon and Syria, where the United States and France led the way to “unprecedented and constructive U.N. action,” to Belarus, where the alliance is “delivering a united message for freedom against Europe’s last dictator.”

In 2005, the entire trans-Atlantic agenda shifted “from an inward focus on Europe to an outward focus, and U.S.-European relations are increasingly a function of events in the Middle East, Asia and Africa,” Burns said.

This profound shift, Burns said, will drive the United States and Europe more closely together, not further apart.

“Europe will be our most important partner as we confront the central security challenge of the coming generation -- the global threats flowing over, under and through our national borders: terrorism; the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear technologies; international crime and narcotics; HIV/AIDS; and, climate change,” Burns said. “Our interests are nearly identical on all these issues,” he added.

SPREADING FREEDOM IN EUROPE, CENTRAL ASIA

Turning to the agenda for 2006, Burns said the United States wants to continue to work through NATO as the core trans-Atlantic link but to broaden and extend NATO’s mandate to Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In working with the European Union, “the next great mission for us together is spreading the freedom we enjoy in Europe and America,” Burns said.

“We also need to complete our work in Europe by attending to the Balkans, Ukraine and Russia,” he said. “We need to continue fostering democracy and opposing repression in Central Asia and the Caucasus. And, most importantly, the United States and Europe need to intensify our efforts in the broader Middle East, as well as Africa and Asia.”

Finally, Burns discussed U.S.-European cooperation around the world, including in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Asia and Africa.

About the Balkans, he said, “U.S. leadership is indispensable and we have revitalized our efforts.”

He reiterated the U.S. commitment “to pursuing the Freedom Agenda in Russia and Ukraine.”
In Central Asia, he said, “we must engage Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and demand reform from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.”

IRAQ, IRAN, AFGHANISTAN

Regarding Iraq, Burns urged Europe to play a constructive role: “Whatever our past disagreements over removing Saddam Hussein from power, the Europeans must now recognize that democracy's failure in Iraq would be a grave blow to our common security, and to the prospect for reform and stability throughout the Middle East.”

He urged Europe to support the new Iraqi government that emerges from the mid-December elections and to engage with the new Iraqi leaders.

On Iran and its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, he said the United States is working closely with Europeans, Russia, India, China and other countries “with the hope of forming one increasingly united and purposeful coalition to deter Iran's efforts.”

Regarding Afghanistan, he said the United States is committed to ensuring that that Central Asian country never again is a haven for terrorism. But it will take European troops and commitment to extend the national government's reach into the provinces, he said. The narcotics trade threatens to destroy all of the political, military, and economic progress that has been made in Afghanistan, he said, adding: “We hope European governments will recognize the threat and respond appropriately by significantly funding alternative livelihood programs.”

In Asia, the United States and Europe “need to develop a strategic consensus on how to engage a rising India and China.”

Regarding Africa, Burns said supporting that continent’s development is and will continue to be a new priority area for the United States. In Sudan, the United States is working with the EU and NATO to provide support to the African Union (AU) to help it carry out its mission in Darfur. “When the AU makes a request, we hope that NATO and the EU will continue to respond quickly and favorably,” Burns said.

The text of Burns’ remarks