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  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The following sampling of comments by Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt explains the group's position in the current crisis and its attitudes towards the United States, Israel, and the rest of the Arab world.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) is perhaps the key actor in the current crisis. Although it has largely remained aloof from the struggle in the streets and has yet to show its hand regarding the fate of the regime, many are counting on it to act in the nation's interest, force President Hosni Mubarak from power, and facilitate a smooth transition to a successor government. This places a great deal of responsibility on the EAF and makes understanding its role in the process essential. Observers inside and outside Egypt should not take for granted that the military will either do "the right thing" or act monolithically. It is an actor with many faces and capacities, and one whose internal motivations and processes can be seen only dimly at the moment.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the situation in Egypt continues to unfold, U.S. policy has evolved with breathtaking speed. Just last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Mubarak regime was stable, but by Tuesday evening, President Obama was making the remarkable statement that Egypt's transition needs to begin "now." This is not only the most serious foreign policy challenge to this U.S. administration, but also one in a list of unforeseen and improbable challenges. Unlike scenarios involving, for example, a North Korean provocation against the South or even a catastrophic terrorist attack -- for which the United States plans and prepares -- the swift demise of Hosni Mubarak's presidency, along with the virtual disappearance of the ruling National Democratic Party and the potential fall of a regime that has been a pillar of U.S. standing in the Middle East for thirty-five years, is an unimagined challenge.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Daniel Green
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 2, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, declared that he would not press for a constitutional amendment allowing him to seek another term during the next election, currently scheduled for 2013. He also pledged that he would not pass power to his son, Ahmed, head of the country's Republican Guard. His remarks were apparently intended to preempt a "day of rage" in the capital, Sana, scheduled by opposition groups for February 3. In addition to parallels with Tunisia and Egypt, Washington will be watching with great attention given Yemen's reputation as a sanctuary for al-Qaeda and its supporters.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Mohammed ElBaradei
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: "For years, the West has bought Mr. Mubarak's demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood lock, stock and barrel, the idea that the only alternative here are these demons called the Muslim Brotherhood who are the equivalent of Al Qaeda's... I am pretty sure that any freely and fairly elected government in Egypt will be a moderate one, but America is really pushing Egypt and pushing the whole Arab world into radicalization with this inept policy of supporting repression."
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Arabia, Egypt, Vienna
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The current wave of protests in Egypt has pitted thousands of demonstrators against the police and Central Security Forces (CSF). The performance of these forces is key to the outcome of the crisis. If they can contain the demonstrations without excessive violence, the protests will likely burn themselves out over time. But if the demonstrations continue or escalate into greater violence, the police and CSF could break down, either dissolving entirely or engaging in undisciplined violence that further exacerbates the situation. Such a scenario, or even the likelihood of it, would probably spur the government to deploy army personnel to support the security forces, deter further demonstrations, and, if necessary, put down the protests through force. That would be a true crisis for the government, one with an uncertain outcome.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Inspired by events in Tunisia, tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on January 25 in major cities from Alexandria to Cairo, the largest demonstrations to hit the country since the bread riots of the 1970s. The government, which did not initially confront demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square, finally took forceful action to remove them late last night. Today, January 26, the Interior Ministry announced that public gatherings and protests will no longer be tolerated; there were further clashes in Cairo and Suez. More protests are anticipated after Friday prayers (January 28). Will the government's tactics quell the demonstrations or cause them to spread? And what approach should Washington take?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Washington, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Cairo
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Twenty years ago, at the close of the 1991 Gulf War, the imposition of a UN-mandated no-fly zone contributed to the formation of a safe haven for Iraqi Kurds, resulting in the liberation of nearly three million people from Baathist dictatorship a full decade before the rest of Iraq. In 1992, new UN-mandated no-fly and no-drive zones were established in southern Iraq and the Balkans to contain rogue regimes and protect civilians from government repression. Given the current developments in Libya, it is natural to consider employing such options once again. Yet history shows that exclusion zones are particularly tricky operations. If not configured properly, they can be worse than useless, signaling fecklessness instead of resolve while providing little real protective value to civilians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, United Nations, Balkans, North Africa
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The uprising in Libya has evolved into a significant military struggle. The Qadhafi regime and, to a lesser extent, its opponents are employing substantial levels of violence, including the use of heavy weapons. Thousands have been killed and wounded.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt caught Israel by surprise. Awe-inspiring as they are to Israel's government and people, these revolutions and the ongoing troubles in Bahrain and Libya are also of immense concern to Israel because of their potential strategic ramifications. Going forward, developments in Egypt will be particularly important given Cairo's traditional role in the region and the special nature of its diplomatic, security, and economic relations with Israel.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 16, Bahraini security forces used brute force to clear democracy protestors from Manama's Pearl Square, on orders from a regime seemingly undaunted by international media coverage and the near-instantaneous self-reporting of Twitter-generation demonstrators. Although the relatively small size of the crowds (compared to recent protests in Egypt and Tunisia) facilitated the crackdown, the action is best explained by the regime's long-held mindset regarding dissent. Specifically, the Bahraini ruling elite believe that any political challenge by the island's Shiite majority must be quickly suppressed -- a view backed by the royal family in neighboring Saudi Arabia and violently enforced in Bahrain despite significant Sunni participation in the protests. This Saudi factor, and the looming presence of Iran across the Persian Gulf, elevates the Bahrain crisis to a U.S. policy challenge on par with events in Egypt.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Island, Tunisia
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Following this weekend's widespread disturbances in Libya, Muammar Qadhafi could lose power within hours or days as his military units and security services crumble in the face of popular discontent. Alternatively, he could decide -- in the ominous words of his son Saif al-Islam -- to "fight to the last bullet," which suggests even more horrific levels of violence and anarchy. In a rambling television broadcast today, February 22, the colonel pledged to "die as a martyr."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A few hours after the official demonstration marking the February 11 anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated, "Was the presence of tens of millions of motivated and aware people in the festival of the thirty-first anniversary of revolution enough to awaken [to their mistakes] the internal enemies and deceived individuals who sometimes hypocritically speak of 'the people'?" Khamenei had spent months worrying that the opposition Green Movement would hijack the anniversary. Yesterday, he seemed to regain his self-confidence by proving that he could manage Tehran's streets. In light of this development, how will the Supreme Leader deal with both Iran's political crisis and the nuclear dossier?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Nearly three months have passed since Iran's bloody crackdown on the mass protests over the controversial June 12 presidential election. The Obama administration, however, has yet to determine a strategy to support the first serious challenge to the regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Last week's statement by Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- that he saw no proof the British or the West were behind the protests -- should encourage the United States to pursue a more assertive approach to support Iranians working for change. Nevertheless, the State Department's Iran Democracy Fund -- currently the only tool available for promoting democracy in Iran -- has been extremely cautious in its funding decisions since President Barack Obama's inauguration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Diplomacy, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 18, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak travels to Washington for a White House meeting with President Barack Obama. The trip -- Mubarak's first visit to the United States in six years -- marks the culmination of a six-month effort by the Obama administration to hit the reset button with Cairo. After years of tension resulting from the last administration's focus on human rights and democratic development, the traditional U.S.-Egyptian bilateral "bargain" has been effectively restored. In exchange for cooperation on key mutual interests -- the peace process and the Iranian threat --Washington appears to have shelved longstanding concerns over internal Egyptian governance. While the new dynamic may help mitigate some regional crises, the political and economic challenges Cairo faces will not age well, particularly as the state enters its first period of leadership transition in twenty-eight years.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 29, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) issued the provisional results of last month's presidential and parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan. The election outcome -- the traditionally entrenched political bloc losing ground to a newly formed party -- has exposed an opening in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Consequently, the region has taken a step away from a fully "managed democracy" toward a more fluid and unpredictable political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Kurdistan
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Six weeks after the pro-West March 14 coalition defeated the Hizballah-led alliance in Lebanon's parliamentary elections, no new government has been formed in Beirut. Although March 14 leader Saad Hariri was given a mandate back in early June to become prime minister and form a cabinet, he has still not completed the sensitive and contentious negotiations with the opposition. Hariri's difficulties in allocating seats among his coalition allies and political adversaries were anticipated, and to a certain extent are routine for Lebanon. But the calm that followed the free and fair elections is eroding, as Hizballah and its allies in Damascus press for more political concessions from Hariri. These developments, coupled with the apparent failure of Saudi-Syrian reconciliation efforts, are elevating tensions, threatening a banner tourism season, and raising the possibility of a return to violence in Beirut.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 25, Iraqi Kurds go to the polls to vote in a joint parliamentary and presidential election. Although a heated competition in January produced massive change at the provincial level throughout the rest of Iraq, the electoral system produced by the incumbent Iraqi Kurdistan parliament prevents such sweeping changes in the north. Both the current coalition governing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the current KRG president, Masoud Barzani, will most likely be reelected. Despite the lack of change, the postelection period will create an opportunity for Baghdad, Washington, and the KRG to resolve outstanding issues that cause increased tension between Arabs and Kurds. Resolution can occur only if all parties take advantage of new political openings, however narrow.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji, David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, Kuwait's nearly 400,000 voters -- more than half of them women -- will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. The incoming body will replace the 2006 parliament that was dissolved by the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, for failing to work together with the cabinet. Kuwait's parliament is relatively powerful compared to others in the region, but tension with the royal family has often produced only deadlock. Still, the elections are an important and interesting exercise in Arab democracy and may even produce a more constructive political environment.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 19, Kuwaiti emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah dissolved the country's parliament and called for new elections to be held on May 17. This drastic step reflects two distinct sets of tensions, both of which Kuwait has overcome in the past: tensions between the executive branch and parliament, and tensions between fundamentalists from the Sunni majority and the Shiite minority. The conjunction of these divisions is unusual and poses a serious political test for this small but strategically vital state -- a nation that borders Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, pumps more oil than Iraq, and quietly hosts about 70,000 U.S. troops at any given moment. The political troubles have become all the more sensitive because many Kuwaitis suspect Iran of fomenting new sectarian strife within their borders.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the Middle East, it is widely believed that Syria is obstructing the election of a new Lebanese president. Amid this crisis, many are beginning to doubt whether the next Arab League summit, scheduled to open in Damascus at month's end, will take place at all.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, around 400,000 Omani men and women are expected to vote in elections for eighty-five seats on the nation\'s Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council. Among the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Oman -- a key U.S. ally and exporter of oil and gas, strategically positioned opposite Iran -- is often considered to be the most politically progressive, perhaps even evolving slowly toward a constitutional monarchy. But the country remains dominated by its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and for now, the council is limited to advice on public services and infrastructure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Oman
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 31, in a contest widely seen as a tune-up for November's parliamentary balloting, Jordanians went to the polls for municipal elections. Amman had hoped these would showcase Jordan's relatively advanced style of representative democracy in the Middle East. Instead, in a surprise development, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) -- the political party of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood -- withdrew hours into the voting, claiming that government-sponsored fraud had "overstepped the bounds." Subsequently, independent and progovernment candidates swept the elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordanians go to the polls tomorrow to elect nearly 1,000 local representatives and 92 mayors. On their own, these elections are of minimal interest to Washington: municipalities have small budgets, limited responsibilities, and scant independence from the central government. But the voting comes just a month after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, during a spike in the violence in Iraq, and a week after a landslide victory for the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish national elections. Adding to the significance of the Jordanian ballot is the fact that, after boycotting the 2003 contest, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will participate in this year's elections. A potential IAF victory highlights growing concern that Islamists are on a political roll throughout the Middle East, and that Jordan may be vulnerable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Gaza, Jordan
  • Author: Andrew Exum, Zack Snyder
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 26, 2006, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak proposed a package of amendments to the Egyptian constitution with the purported aim of introducing more democratic freedom into Egypt's sclerotic political system. In effect, however, these "reforms" will serve only to strengthen the ruling party's stranglehold on Egyptian politics and send Egypt farther down the road toward authoritarian rule. On Monday, March 26, after minimal public debate, the Egyptian populace will vote on this package of amendments through referendum. Opposition groups are expected to boycott the vote.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 29 parliamentary elections in Kuwait achieved international media coverage because women were allowed to stand for office and vote for the first time in the sheikhdom. Less well reported were the local political divisions that had brought about elections a year earlier than expected. The results of the balloting—in which, incidentally, none of the women candidates won office—worsened the divisions between the Kuwaiti government and the National Assembly and could lead to greater public disagreement about the character of the country's alliance with the United States.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 7, Lebanese Druze leader and member of parliament Walid Jumblat told reporters in Cairo that Hizballah should disarm. These comments came just four days after Jumblat offered his assistance to the Syrian opposition in establishing "a democratic and free Syria." Jumblat has always been an enigmatic and unpredictable interlocutor, and his recent statements on Syria and Hizballah typify his disregard for the conventions of the Lebanese political establishment. While many Lebanese may quietly support Jumblat's truth telling, his statements are sure to increase his list of powerful enemies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At a time when attention is focused on the problems democracy has brought in one part of the Middle East, such as the Palestinian territories, it has been easy to overlook how democratic processes were key to resolving a crisis in another Middle Eastern country: Kuwait. The January 15 death of Kuwait's emir, or ruler, Sheikh Jaber brought to power the physically and mentally incapacitated Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah. But the crisis engendered by his ill health and his refusal to abdicate was resolved quickly through democratic processes. On January 24, the parliament of the oil-rich Persian Gulf state of Kuwait exercised a previously unused constitutional power and voted to oust Sheikh Saad. The new emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, is expected to be confirmed by parliament on January 29, and is now under pressure from some members of parliament to choose a prime minister from outside the ranks of the ruling al-Sabah family.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Eunice Youmans
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 11, Bahrain will welcome government officials and civil society groups to the second meeting of the Forum for the Future. The forum was founded at the 2004 G-8 summit at Sea Island, Georgia, as the centerpiece of the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative to promote change in the region. Political reform tops the forum's 2005 agenda with two-thirds of the conference sessions set to address political reform, human rights, women's empowerment, and the rule of law. The agenda, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs Scott Carpenter says, reflects the Bahraini government's willingness to discuss sensitive issues of reform, and U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice will address the conference.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Georgia, North Africa
  • Author: Khairi Abaza
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: November 9 marks the start of legislative elections in Egypt. These are the first elections to be contested after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak pledged to implement political reforms during his presidential campaign in September. The political opposition maintains that the legislative elections will not reflect the true will of the Egyptian people and that the political environment is still not conducive to truly democratic politics.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Khairi Abaza
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 27, Hosni Mubarak will be sworn in for a fifth consecutive term as president of Egypt. Mubarak was reelected according to new electoral procedures introduced earlier this year that allowed for a competitive election between multiple candidates. The opposition, united in its calls for more democracy, criticized the reforms, claiming that they only aimed at strengthening the regime's grip on power. For his part, Mubarak pledged to introduce further political reforms during his fifth mandate. What would a reform program look like and what would its prospects be?
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Egypt
  • Author: Khairi Abaza
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 7, Egyptians voted in their country's first multiparty presidential election. Though results are not yet final, preliminary tallies point to a victory for the incumbent president, Hosni Mubarak. Observers reported irregularities, and turnout did not seem to meet the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) expectations. More than half a century of authoritarian rule, including twenty-four years under emergency laws, have stifled political activities in Egypt. The NDP's control of all branches of government and the media made it difficult for the election to reflect the true and free will of the people of Egypt.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Khairi Abaza
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: August 17 is the official start of the campaign for Egypt's first multicandidate presidential election; voting is scheduled for on September 7. President Hosni Mubarak, who has held office for twenty-four years, has been elected without opposition four times. In the upcoming election, only party leaders can be candidates; no independent candidates are allowed. Authoritarian rule and emergency laws have limited opposition parties' ability to interact with the public and atrophied their presence in the street. If Egypt's election is free and fair, it will be despite, not because of, the electoral procedures established by the Mubarak regime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 19, Lebanon's incoming prime minister, Fuad Siniora, announced the formation of a new Lebanese cabinet, a move praised in Washington as another step toward democratic reform. At the same time, the State Department warned that it would not be able to maintain contact with newly appointed Minister of Energy and Water Muhammad Fneish, who is a member of Hizballah. Beyond the fact that U.S. officials are prohibited by law from dealing with members of officially designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations like Hizballah, Fneish's appointment raises the larger question of how to deal with the extensive presence of active terrorist groups in a Lebanon no longer dominated by Syria.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mohsen Sazegara
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 29, 2005, Iran's Guardian Council confirmed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as winner of the June 24 presidential election, as dictated by Iran's constitution and in accordance with the wishes of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He will take office on August 4. The fact that Ahmadinejad won the election would have meant nothing unless Khamenei approved the results. While the president is titular head of the Iranian government, he is at most second-in-command after the Supreme Leader. In order to understand how the Ahmadinejad presidency will unfold, then, one must first realize that Khamenei will now have even more direct powers than before.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Human Rights, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mohsen Sazegara
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Once again the Iranian nation is at a fork in the road: a choice between worse and worst. It is not clear when it will have the possibility of choosing, under a democratic structure, between better and best. A problematic election and the intervention of the armed services in politics have created a bitter equation, on one side of which stands a fascistic reading of religion. The people of Iran, in shock and fearful of the nightmare before them, are being invited to the other side of the equation, namely, to support Hashemi Rafsanjani. If they do so, in two months time they will have to add another disappointment to the many that have afflicted their nation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Naysan Rafati
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranians will head back to the polls on June 24 to decide an unprecedented presidential runoff pitting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Ahmadinejad, mayor of Tehran, defied pre-election forecasts by reportedly finishing with 5,710,354 (19.5 percent) of the 29,317,042 ballots cast in the original election on June 17. Rafsanjani, president from 1989 to 1997 and current chairman of the Expediency Council, reportedly received 6,159,452 votes (21 percent). The following is a survey of each candidate's recent statements on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues. It should be noted that their past statements on some of these issues may differ with what they have said in the past few weeks.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Tehran
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a relatively calm first round of Fatah primaries in five of the West Bank's eleven electoral districts, a second round of primaries in five additional districts—four in the West Bank and one in Gaza—held between November 28 and December 3 have caused increased tensions within the movement. Where the victories by the younger generation of Fatah leaders in the primaries could have represented a watershed moment in Fatah's evolution, they have been marred by a haphazard system of voting and numerous accusations of fraud. Moreover, repeated incidents of violence at polling stations demonstrate Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's difficulty in enforcing his principle of One Authority, One Gun even within his own movement. Rather than unifying Fatah, the primaries have highlighted the party's disorganization and divisions. The old guard represented by Fatah's Central Committee, which dominates a committee of the wise tasked to determine Fatah's final electoral lists, will now have greater leverage in that process to place its own members high on Fatah's national list of candidates in Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections scheduled for January 2006.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East