Foreign democracy assistance organizations working directly with political parties have come into the line of fire as some Arab governments have pushed back against democratization initiatives over the past two years. In Algeria, Bahrain, and Egypt in particular, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) have been among the first to feel pressure.
The release of six foreign medics from a Tripoli prison in July 2007, after E.U. and French mediation ended an eight year ordeal, provoking sighs of relief across Europe. In Brussels, E.U. bureaucrats promptly got to work on pushing toward formal relations.