For three decades, human rights violations in Libya were committed under the rubric of “revolutionary defense.” The government and its extensive security apparatus imprisoned or “disappeared” critics who challenged the ideology of the 1969 revolution that overthrew the monarchy or of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi's system of Jamahariya, the “state of the masses.”
The second of June marked the second anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese writer Samir Qasir, with no indication of who ordered the car bombing that silenced one of the loudest Arab voices criticizing autocratic Arab regimes, particularly the Assad family in Syria.
Until recently Western assistance programs aimed at strengthening political parties were less present in the Arab world than in almost all other areas of the developing world. As part of the heightened U.S. and European interest in promoting Arab political reform, however, such programs are multiplying in the region.
Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi initiated a major shift in economic policy at the turn of the millennium. When early efforts at economic liberalization produced limited results, he stepped up the pressure in June 2003, declaring the public sector a failure, calling for the privatization of the economy, and pledging to bring Libya into the World Trade Organization.
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.
A series of unusual scenes on the streets of the Middle East nurtured an inspiring story line of an emerging “Arab spring” that mimicked the earlier triumph of democracy from the Philippines to Prague: mass demonstrations in Lebanon; joint rallies of Egyptian Islamists and liberals against the Mubarak regime; and elections in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia.
A team of leading nonproliferation experts offers a blueprint for rethinking the international nonproliferation regime. They offer a fresh approach to deal with states and terrorists, nuclear weapons, and fissile materials through a twenty-step, priority action agenda.
If A.Q. Khan is written off as an evil individual, then his deeds can be written off as peculiar sins that do not reflect flaws in the international system. In a review of Gordon Corera’s book, “Shopping for Bombs”, George Perkovich examines its key theme – nuclear proliferation can occur within the limits of international criminal law.