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  • Author: Alex Thurston
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Islamists have become an important political force in Mauritania since formal Islamist associations first emerged in the 1970s. Islamist activism has contributed to the ongoing Islamization of Mauritanian society, as is evident from the proliferation of mosques and Islamic associations in the capital, Nouakchott, and elsewhere. In the 1990s, political liberalization allowed Islamists to participate in elections as independents, and since its legalization in 2007, Tewassoul, the strongest Islamist party in Mauritania today, has become a significant minority voice in the country's politics and has built ties with Islamists elsewhere in the Arab world. These moderate Islamists who participate in elections hold different beliefs and goals from Mauritania's jihadist fringe. Overall, Mauritanian Islamism does not currently pose a threat to the United States. The mainstream of the movement appears committed to democracy and, even so, is unlikely to take power. Islamist parties like Tewassoul have never captured a large share of the vote in elections, and moderate Islamist leaders have explicitly rejected using violence to take over the state. Indeed, the United States may even find an upside to the Islamists' rise: Mainstream Islamist leaders publicly condemn the Muslim terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which the Mauritanian government has been combating since 2005.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, North Africa
  • Author: Jonas Wolff
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Bolivia offers a critical, but atypical, case for international democracy promotion. The ongoing political transformation initiated by President Evo Morales constitutes one of the few experiences in the world of a serious effort to build a democracy different from the existing Western liberal models. And this presents a significant challenge to democracy promotion efforts.
  • Topic: Democratization, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Bolivia
  • Author: Thomas Carothers, Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The emergence of a multipolar world gives Western democracy advocates cause for both optimism and anxiety. China's success sparks fears of the spread of an autocratic development model. Yet democratic states such as Brazil, Indonesia, India, South Africa, and Turkey are also gaining ground. These countries serve as powerful examples of the universal appeal of democracy and possess unique experiences with democratization. The United States and Europe understandably hope that rising democracies will use their growing prominence to defend democratic values abroad, potentially revitalizing international democracy support.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Human Rights, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Indonesia, Turkey, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Thomas Carothers
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Pessimism about the progress of democracy in the developing and postcommunist worlds has risen sharply in recent years. Negative developments in a variety of countries, such as military coups, failed elections, and the emergence of antidemocratic populist leaders, have caused some observers to argue that democracy is in retreat and authoritarianism on the march. A broad look at the state of democracy around the world reveals however that although the condition of democracy is certainly troubled in many places, when viewed relative to where it was at the start of this decade, democracy has not lost ground in the world overall. The former Soviet Union is the one region where democracy has clearly slipped backward in this decade, primarily as a result of Russia's authoritarian slide. The Middle East has also been a source of significant disappointment on democracy but mostly in comparison with unrealistic expectations that were raised by the Bush administration. In most of the rest of the world good news with respect to democratization is found in roughly equal proportion to bad news and considerable continuity has prevailed as well.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Communism, Democratization, Development, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East
  • Author: Thomas Carothers
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Bush's administration's highly problematic legacy on democracy promotion and general pessimism about the global state of democracy create pressure on the Obama administration to pull the United States substantially back from supporting democracy abroad. Although dissociating U.S. democracy support from the errors of the Bush approach is crucial, a broad realist corrective of U.S. policy is not necessary. The way forward for Obama will be more about changing how the United States goes about supporting democracy abroad than about what emphasis to place on democracy relative to other interests. Cardinal values of Obama's political philosophy and style—non-confrontational, measured, persistent, bipartisan, cooperative, effective, and empowering—provide a natural basis for a new framework to help the United States regain its place as a respected, trusted, and influential ally of democracy around the world.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Yezid Sayigh
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As they emerge from conflict, states can rarely commence the arduous task of reconstruction and consolidate their governments until they undertake extensive restructuring of their security forces. Palestine, Lebanon, and Yemen are all fractured, quasi-democratic states with divided societies, and deep disagreement over what constitutes the national interest. Successful reform in each will require security institutions that answer to democratically-elected civilian leaders, but the U.S. and European approach has thus far focused largely on providing military training and equipment, targeted toward counterterrorist capabilities.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Thomas Carothers
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: President Obama and his foreign policy team are only just starting to confront the challenge of reformulating U.S. democracy promotion policy. Crucial to any such effort will be revitalizing democracy assistance, a domain that has expanded greatly over the past 25 years but risks not adapting adequately to meet the challenges of the new landscape of democratic stagnation in the world. As the largest source of U.S. democracy assistance, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a natural starting point for such a process of revitalization.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, International Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Marina Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Bush administration's democratization rhetoric was never buttressed by an unambiguous, sustained policy to promote political reform. Concerns about security and stability have now virtually halted U.S. democracy promotion efforts. This is a short-sighted policy because political reform is imperative in countries where political systems remain stagnant in the face of rapid societal change. The United States needs to renew its efforts, taking into account that past policies have undermined its credibility in the region. It thus must abandon the empty rhetoric of the last few years in favor of modest goals developed and pursued in cooperation with regional and local actors, rather than imposed from Washington.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Even as the United States is preoccupied with how to stabilize and withdraw from Iraq, it risks missing another important opportunity to promote democracy in the Middle East. Among Arab countries Egypt is uniquely positioned to make a transition from authoritarian rule to a more liberal system and eventually to democracy. A looming presidential succession in Egypt makes such changes more feasible. But after several years of modest reforms, the Egyptian government is now backtracking and enshrining illiberal measures in its revised constitution. The United States faces a critical decision about whether to pursue reform seriously with Egypt or to abandon the project of promoting Arab democracy, at least for now.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: By electing a parliament dominated by Hamas, Palestinians have sharply challenged U.S. policy. The initial American reaction—undermining the new government—will leave the population in chaos, with various Palestinian groups vying for influence. Political constraints preclude anything but a Hamas government in the short term. But the Hamas victory should not be viewed as a defeat for the American vision of reform—which, indeed, may offer a path out of the current deadlock. The United States should develop a policy for the longer term to continue calming the Israeli- Palestinian conflict; maintain the Palestinian Authority; and work for political reform by focusing on the judiciary, media, and other institutions that are independent of the current regime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Israel, Palestine