- DemocracyDevelopmentHuman RightsReform Issues
- November 24, 2009
- 2 minutes read
Middle East Democracy Promotion
Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has released a new policy brief entitled, “Middle East Democracy Promotion Is Not a One-way Street.”
Ottaway enumerates three factors that have changed the political landscape of democracy promotion in the Middle East. One, Islamist movements, who represent the strongest opposition forces, are both losing the ability and interest in participating in political processes. Two, Arab citizens remain politically active, especially in the use of new media, but have failed to leverage their energy on traditional political institutions. Three, Arab governments are increasingly unable to adapt to new challenges while a few states have a hard time governing at all.
So far, President Obama has necessarily focused on Afghanistan and Iran, as well as the Middle East Peace Process, as opposed to pushing for democratic reform. But given the unlikelihood of near-term solutions on any of these issues, Ottaway contends “the issue of political reform must be addressed” as well. She proposes that the Obama administration should follow the example of the Helsinki process by creating a comprehensive two-way dialogue between Arab states and the United States that delineates universal principles agreeable to both sides.