Iraq’s newly elected National Assembly (NA) will soon take up its major task—although hardly its only one—of drafting a permanent constitution. The task is to be completed in time to submit the draft constitution to a national plebiscite by October 15, 2005.
Marina Ottaway assesses the significance of the January 30 elections for the longer term process of building a democratic Iraqi state. No matter how flawed, the voting will force the various ethnic, religious and political groups in Iraq to confront each other and decide whether they can stay together in one country.
The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), part of the Bush’s policy of promoting reform, is falling short and should be relaunched as a private foundation funded by the government. Such a relaunch would permit MEPI to develop greater expertise in the region, use more flexible, effective aid methods, and gain some independence from other U.S. programs and policies that serve conflicting ends.
The most direct way to break the grip of inefficient, self-serving interests on state power is through the election of new political players not beholden to the same interest groups that supported their predecessors. This is true regardless of political bent and is demonstrated by recent history in postcommunist Eastern Europe.
The upcoming Palestinian presidential elections have raised a variety of questions. Here, experts discuss how the process has worked, what is at stake, and why other Palestinian elections are potentially more important.
The United States faces no greater challenge today than successfully fulfilling its new ambition of helping bring about a democratic transformation of the Middle East. Uncharted Journey contributes a wealth of concise, illuminating insights on this subject, drawing on the contributors’ deep knowledge of Arab politics and their experience with democracy-building in other parts of the world.
Although the United States and Europe share in interest in promoting political reform in the Middle East, they have not yet worked out whether they can work productively together on this task. Recent efforts to forge joint initiatives have demonstrated a tendency to devolve into lowest common denominator approaches that generate only lukewarm commitment.