On November 12-13, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Italian Istituto Affari Internazionali, in partnership with the German Herbert-Quandt-Stiftung, organized a two-day workshop in Rome to discuss the policy preferences and reform strategies of non-violent Islamic movements in different Arab countries.
In Egypt’s first-ever multicandidate presidential election on September 7, opponents to President Mubarak’s regime performed poorly, and Mubarak swept the election with 88.6 percent of the vote to secure his fifth presidential term. But is this landslide victory a mandate for the ruling party’s power and policies?
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski took his scalpel to the administration’s national security strategy in an opinion piece Oct. 13. Former State Department chief of staff Larry Wilkerson assisted in the surgery with an October 19 speech. The war in Iraq has hurt “America's ability to cope with nuclear nonproliferation,” Brzezinski says.
Mubarak's victory represented a step toward opening up a persistently autocratic regime. It revitalized the political scene and partially minimized citizens' apathy toward politics. However, to describe the election as a historic breakthrough or as a shift toward a new pattern of state-society relationship is misleading. The election was not competitive and its conduct clearly undemocratic.
Arabs indisputably desire more predictable, responsive, and fair laws, even as the Middle East presents acute challenges to rule-of-law reform. To achieve the most success, the United States should focus less on the performance of courts and concentrate on building a broad social understanding of legal rights and respect for the law’s authority.