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Middle East International Refounded
Middle East International Refounded
The Middle East International has restarted its printing press after a six-year hiatus, releasing a free PDF issue online in commemoration. According to the Arabist, MEI offers “long articles and analysis from writers based in-country who [know] what they [are] talking about.”
Tuesday, November 10,2009 10:25
by Jason pomed.org

The Middle East International has restarted its printing press after a six-year hiatus, releasing a free PDF issue online in commemoration. According to the Arabist, MEI offers “long articles and analysis from writers based in-country who [know] what they [are] talking about.”

There are several articles in the first issue related to democracy in the Middle East.  David Gardnerexplores why “the Arab world is mired in despotism” and blames America’s “morbid fear of political Islam” for its failure to promote democracy in the region. While the Bush “freedom agenda” is no more, the realization that “tyranny, connived in by the West, breeds terrorism, instability, and societal stagnation” still holds true. Therefore, “President Obama needs to rescue that insight before it is swept away in a backlash of shallow realism.” Gardner continues, “support for autocracy and indulgence of corruption in this region, far from securing stability, breeds extremism and, in extremis, failed states.” Yet while the U.S. must do more to promote democracy, Gardner reminds us that ultimately Arab citizens must lead the effort to democratize their respective countries.

In addition to Gardner’s article, Ginny Hill  identifies economics as the primary challenge to Yemen’s crumbling state, a view further fleshed out by Abigail Fielding-Smith.  Nicholas Blanford details the political impasse in Lebanon that has yet to produce a cabinet, and he also questions whether deteriorating relations between Hezbollah and Israel might lead to another war.

Moving on to Iraq, Jim Muir fleshes out the political impasse (now solved) over an Iraqi election law and the status of Kirkuk. In a second article, Muir argues that Iraqis have begun to reject sectarianism and have “developed a taste for democracy.” But at the same time, Iraq is still plagued by violence and difficult political questions, such as the status of the Kurds and a national oil law. Therefore, there still remains the possibility that “the embers glowing under the ahses might burst once again into flames when the Americans are no longer [there] to provide any support.”

Nicolas Pope describes Turkey’s newly assertive foreign policy that has been made possible by a shift in the internal balance of power between the Justice and Development Party versus the secularists and the military. Paul Sampson argues that “Iran’s failure to approve the nuclear deal […] exposed the political divisions among the ruling elite” and suggests that only Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani can stem “Iran’s drift towards all-out dictatorship.” Eileen Byrne discusses the sham elections in Tunisia.

Issandr El Amrani details the rise of Gamal Mubarak and his official platform of liberal economics and gradual political reform. El Amrani then explores the opposition’s cynicism to Gamal’s apparent ascendancy and other potential presidential candidates like Omar SuleimanMuhammad ElBaradeiAhmad Zewail and Amr Mousa. Finally, El Amrani describes the schism in the Muslim Brotherhood over the failed appointment of Essam al-Erian to the Guidance Bureau.

Wafa Amr and Adnan Salem discuss how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas‘ decision to hold elections on January 24, regardless of whether Fatah and Hamas can achieve a reconciliation deal puts pressure on Hamas to negotiate or face further political isolation.  Meanwhile, Deena Jawhar reports that Bahrain’s parliament has approved a bill banning all contacts between Bahraini citizens and Israelis, with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. The move has put pressure on Bahrain’s government, which sees the legislation as an “infringement of its authority and control over foreign policy.”

George Joffe elaborates on the growing role of Muammar  al-Qadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, in Libyan politics. This October, Saif was declared leader of Libya’s Socialist Popular Leadership (SPL), effectively making him the second most powerful figure in the country and heir apparent.  However, Joffe argues that the SPL may prove a difficult vehicle for Saif to enact the political reforms he desires, such as the establishment of a constitution. Furthermore, conservatives within the political elite continue to present Saif with obstacles against his reform agenda.

tags: Middle East / PDF / Arabist / political Islam / democracy / Obama / terrorism / Turkey / Iran / Gamal Mubarak / Omar Suleiman / Muhammad ElBaradei / Bahrain / Abbas / Arab League / Bahrain / Democracy Promotion / Diplomacy / Egypt / Elections / Freedom / Gulf / Human Rights / Iran / Iraq / Islamist movements / Israel / Lebanon / Legislation / Libya / Muslim Brotherhood / NGOs / Neocons / Oil / Political Islam / Political Parties / Publications / Reform / Sectarianism / Secularism / Turkey / US foreign policy / Uncategorized / United Nations / sanctions / Libya / SPL
Posted in Development , Iraq , Iran , Democracy  
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