In the last few years, Arab liberals have been gradually reaching out to moderate Islamists and engaging them in campaigns calling for reforms. These are steps in the right direction and the U.S. and Europe should learn from this example. The cause of political transformation in the region is best served by bringing in Islamist movements and their popular constituencies.
Talking to the Muslim Brotherhood and other mainstream Islamist organizations should be a central, ongoing task for American diplomats in the Middle East. It would do more to restore the tarnished image of the United States in the Arab world than any public diplomacy initiative launched so far.
The Carnegie China Program and the Asia Foundation co-sponsored a lunch seminar featuring Mr. Gong Xiaobing, the Director-General of the Department of Judicial Assistance and Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Justice of China. Dr. Veron Hung of the Carnegie Endowment moderated the discussion and commented on Mr. Gong's presentation.
In a startling development this month, the Egyptian Judges Club decided to boycott their constitutionally mandated role of supervising upcoming elections. Is the Egyptian judiciary on a quest to transform Mubarak’s regime? Rather than a bold move toward regime change, this is a calibrated confrontation with narrower aims: to secure judicial reform and support electoral reform.
The best hope for long-term peace and prosperity in the region is for the international community to press the Karimov regime to change.
The situation in this strategically located Central Asian state can no longer be answered with platitudes about Islamic threats or empty exhortations to democratic reform. If the Uzbek regime can't or won't fix its problems, then the world community will soon face the choice between intervention and chaos.
George Perkovich testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a hearing titled "Iran: Weapons Proliferation, Terrorism and Democracy."
While many aspects of recent events in Uzbekistan remain unclear, one thing is perfectly obvious. Unless the government of President Islam Karimov quickly moves to introduce economic and political reforms, it will not regain public confidence.