27 February, 2008

The New Middle East

A short overview of the situation in the Middle East by the Carnegie Endowment. (PDF file)

[.....In the end, U.S. pressure on Egypt and other countries was short- lived. By mid-2006, with the situation in Iraq deteriorating and concern about Iran mounting, the administration forgot its previous criticism of friendly autocratic regimes, redefined them as moderates, and sought to forge an anti- Iranian alliance with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, plus Egypt and Jordan. The failing attempts to promote reform from the top were abandoned in the name of security.
Well aware of the United States’ troubles in the region and the strategic leverage it gives them, rulers such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Mubarak of Egypt have pushed for nothing less than a return to pre-9/11 American policies, i.e., ignoring the domestic behavior of Arab allies and concentrating on their regional and international actions.
One indicator of the success of Arab pressure against democracy promotion has been the remarkable decrease since 2006 of critical statements by the Bush administration about domestic politics in Arab moderate states, despite clear signs of backsliding, particularly in Egypt and Jordan. Repressive measures against opposition movements, predominantly the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Jordanian Islamic Action Front, as well as undemocratic constitutional changes have been publicly ignored by the Bush administration....]

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