Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
Jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum
  Vol. 5   No. 8-9 Table of Contents
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August-September 2003 

Explaining the Arab Democracy Deficit, Part II: American Policy
by Gary C. Gambill

Egyptian parliament

In the first installment of this article series, I argued that the uniformly authoritarian political climate of the Arab world is not solely, perhaps not even primarily, an outgrowth of endogenous social, cultural, or economic conditions in the region. While Islamic norms may strongly influence Arab conceptions of legitimate governance, they do not explain why corrupt, inegalitarian, and decidedly un-Islamic regimes have managed to flout popular will. Tribal and ethno-sectarian divisions have been exploited by Arab regimes to divide and rule their constituents, but the salience of primordial forms of identification is less a cause than an outgrowth of authoritarian governance. While abundant oil resources may weaken societal pressures for representation, many Arab states have little or no oil and petroleum wealth has not always decisively blocked transitions to democracy in other parts of the world. While further research into these and other factors may yet produce an explanatory breakthrough, underlying societal conditions have not been convincingly shown to account for the Arab "democracy deficit."

How, then, can one account for the fact that none of the 121 nations classified by Freedom House as electoral democracies are in the Arab world? Imagine a botanical experiment in which most of the seeds in one bed of soil sprout and grow into plants, while all of the seeds in a second bed either fail to sprout or quickly wither once they break the soil. One might begin by checking to see whether the seeds in the second group are defective or damaged. If close examination of the seeds reveals no identifiable characteristics that could plausibly account for such sweeping failure to develop, an astute botanist would likely proceed by determining whether differences in soil conditions, temperature, and sunlight account for the anomaly.

Most scholars of Arab politics have spent their time studying seeds. The proposition that authoritarianism in the Arab world is sustained by the absence or weakness of external forces that have facilitated democratization elsewhere has not been rigorously examined. In order to determine whether external conditions can account for the discrepancy, one must first establish whether governments in the Arab world have faced external conditions relevant to democratization that differ significantly from those faced by their counterparts elsewhere in the world. This study contends that they have.

Since the waning years of the Cold War, Western governments and international institutions have made the promotion of democracy abroad a key policy objective, particularly in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. As a result, the post-Cold War political order has been quite inhospitable to regimes in most areas of the world that are branded by the West as having failed to embark (or remain) on the path toward democracy.

In contrast, the policies of Western governments and international institutions regarding democratization in the Arab world have ranged from what one might term "benign neglect" (failure to take action in support of democratization or in defense of the political and civil liberties necessary for its smooth functioning) to deliberate efforts to strengthen authoritarian regimes against the forces of democratic change. While Western support for undemocratic regimes in the Middle East has certainly not gone unnoticed by academics, the degree to which this support is exceptional in the post-Cold War era is frequently ignored or understated.[1] It is not standard operating procedure in Washington to praise manifestly bogus elections or pressure international lending institutions to relax "good governance" conditions outside of the Arab world.

This article outlines the extent of this exceptionalism in American foreign policy. The most pertinent and vexing questions of all - why the Arab world has been exempted from pressure to democratize and whether this exclusion has had a decisive impact on the pace of democratization in the region - will be examined in subsequent installments.

American Foreign Policy and Democracy Promotion

While the United States has long advocated the spread of democratic governance overseas, democracy promotion did not emerge as a central pillar of American foreign policy until the final years of the Cold War. There were, of course, isolated efforts to facilitate democratic transitions abroad dating back to the early 20th century. The United States established electoral systems in Cuba and the Philippines after the Spanish-American war and often portrayed its military interventions in Central America and the Caribbean during the inter-war period as democratizing missions. After World War II, the cultivation of democracy in Japan and parts of Europe was a major American priority, but this did not extend to the world at large.

While the astonishing transformation of the two Axis powers from autocratic rivals to democratic allies of the United States appeared to vindicate the idea that democracies shared a natural harmony of interests, it did not inspire an overarching policy of democracy promotion in the post-war era. In the Third World, where American influence over the political development of other countries was strongest, US foreign policy was driven primarily by the objectives of thwarting Soviet influence and empowering domestic forces that favored American trade and investment. As a result, anti-communist authoritarian regimes that adopted liberal economic policies often received virtually unqualified American backing unless they proved incapable of maintaining political and social stability. In some cases, when democratization in the Third World was regarded as a threat to American economic and security interests, the United States intervened to forestall or reverse the process.

Democracy promotion became a major avowed aim of American foreign policy during the Reagan administration, which framed its ideological challenge to the Soviet Union primarily in terms of democracy and individual freedom. In Eastern Europe, the United States extended diplomatic (and, where possible, financial) support to civil society groups that challenged communist regimes, such as Solidarity in Poland,. The Reagan administration introduced new aid programs designed to facilitate transitions to civilian rule in Latin America. The largest recipients of "democracy aid" were countries where American-backed autocracies were threatened by strong popular opposition movements. American democracy aid, combined with modest levels of pressure for political change, did not materialize until these authoritarian regimes were in crisis. Nevertheless, American pressure during the 1980s was instrumental in bringing about democratic transitions in both Chile and the Philippines.

The end of the Cold War fundamentally transformed official American views on democratization. For starters, Soviet influence in the Third World disappeared (and with the credibility of radical leftist movements). Staunch anti-Communism was no longer a necessary (or even particularly desirable) trait in prospective foreign allies as American strategic interests gave way to the pursuit of open markets. While authoritarian regimes had often proven to be reliable trade partners, they were seen as ill suited to the development of mature market economies, which require transparent and accountable government authority. Moreover, in countries facing severe economic problems, it was believed that democratic regimes could more easily build public support for painful austerity measures.

Such pragmatic considerations evolved under the Clinton administration into a broader doctrine democratic enlargement, which held that the spread of democracy advances American interests because democracies are less likely to go to war with each other, less likely to sponsor terrorism, less likely to unleash waves of refugees, more likely to honor treaties, more likely to abide by international law, more likely to protect the global environment, and more likely to be lucrative trade partners.[2]

This shift in American policy was reinforced by growing consensus among economists that lack of democracy was the main obstacle to economic development in the Third World. In 1990, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) adopted a "sustainable development" formula that made eligibility for economic assistance conditional upon progress toward democratization. International financial institutions in which the United States wields influence, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank followed suit (though they favored the term "good governance").

In addition to strictly economic pressure to democratize, the United States has frequently employed diplomatic pressure (e.g. public criticism by US officials, withholding and declining invitations for official state visits, etc.), which can often have a significant impact on post-authoritarian regimes anxious to prove their democratic credentials both at home and overseas. When coupled with threats to cut off economic aid or rescind trade privileges, the power of the White House to decisively impact political developments abroad has been formidable. In a handful of cases, American military forces have been deployed abroad for the ostensible purpose of facilitating democratic transitions, the most notable cases being Panama (1989), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995), and Kosovo (1999), and Iraq (2003). Each of these cases, however, were unique insofar as democratic institutions were seen as instrumental to American interests due to special circumstances that do not generally apply elsewhere.

The discussion below focuses on five overlapping dimensions of American democracy promotion: free and fair elections, rule of law, civil rights, civil society, and economic liberalization.

Free Elections

During the early 1990s, American democracy promotion focused primarily on support for free and fair elections abroad. Elections were seen in American governmental circles as landmarks in democratic development and, more importantly, were the kind of observable benchmarks of progress favored by government bureaucracies. As a result, elections have figured prominently in the allocation of economic aid from the United States and international financial institutions.

This correlation tends to be strongest in countries where levels of development assistance are large in comparison to alternate sources of income and where competing American economic interests are weakest, like sub-Saharan Africa - the only region of the world where outside economic aid surpasses foreign direct investment. By 1993, the United States had cut economic aid to a succession of autocratic governments for their failure to hold transitional elections, most notably Kenya (1991), Malawi (1992), Togo (1992), Cameroon (1992), Guinea (1993), and Nigeria (1993). As early as 1990, the newsletter Africa Confidential proclaimed that "the principle cause of Africa's wind of [democratic] change is the World Bank and the donor countries."[3] While the contention that conditionality promotes the longer-term entrenchment of democracy is open to question, there is no doubt that it facilitated the proliferation of multi-party elections in sub-Saharan Africa during the 1990s.

Economic aid is not the only "carrot" that has been used by the United States to promote free and fair elections. Throughout the former Soviet bloc, free and fair elections were understood to be a prerequisite for entry into NATO. According to one scholar, "the determination of Slovakia to run a 'good' election in 1998 was overwhelmingly caused by its desire to become a member of NATO."[4]

Governments anxious to prove their democratic credentials are usually provided with electoral aid from the United States, mostly through quasi-governmental agencies. The most important of these is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), established by congress in 1983 to "support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, nongovernmental efforts." Although ostensibly a non-governmental organization (NGO), NED receives virtually all of its funding from the government. Roughly three-quarters of NED funding is in turn granted to a range of other quasi-governmental NGOs (QGNGOs) such as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). American electoral assistance encompasses a broad portfolio of services, including electoral design, technical assistance, and monitoring.

Because democratic credentials are so important for developing countries outside of the Middle East, international observers have been ubiquitous at election time. "Hardly an election occurs outside the developed world today without an international corps of observers flying in to certify the results," writes Eric Bjornlund, a former director of NDI's Asia programs.[5] IFES claims that thirty-one of sub-Saharan Africa's forty-three states have received its assistance.[6] Apart from assessing the integrity of elections in the eyes of the international community, the presence of QGNGO electoral monitors also tends to deter government fraud, encourage higher turnout, and attract greater international media attention.

Rule of Law

The second dimension of American democracy promotion has been support for rule of law abroad. For the most part, American policymakers have vocally opposed constitutional disruptions outside of the Middle East. This trend is most evident in cases where democratizing governments have attempted to expand their power unconstitutionally or have been threatened by military coups. In Latin America, Africa, and Asia, constitutional disruptions have usually been punished by American sanctions (or preempted by the threat of sanctions). Some of the more notable cases, by region, include:

Thailand (1991): New project aid suspended after military coup.

Latin America
Haiti (1991): Overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide is met with complete suspension of American aid.
Peru (1992): All aid suspended after President Alberto Fujimori dissolves the legislature and suspends the judiciary (restored later in the year after Peru's legislative elections).
Guatemala (1993): All aid suspended after President Jorge Serrano dissolves the legislature and the Supreme Court.
Paraguay (1996): After the head of the army, Gen. Lino Oviedo, refused orders to step down and began preparations for a military coup, US officials announced that a break with democratic governance in Paraguay was unacceptable and publicly threatened to cut off military aid.
Ecuador (2000): After President Jamil Mahuad is overthrown by a military coup, the State Department condemned those "seeking to establish an unconstitutional regime." Within days, the leader of the coup, Gen. Carlos Mendoza handed power to the civilian vice-president in order, he said, "to prevent the international isolation of Ecuador." [7]

Burundi (1993): All economic aid suspended after the killing of then-President Melchior Ndadaye.
Gambia (1994): New project aid suspended following military coup.
Lesotho (1994): Aid suspended for duration of short-lived coup.
Burundi (1996): Aid suspended again following military coup.
Niger (1996): All economic aid suspended following military coup.

The October 1999 military coup that brought Gen. Pervez Musharraf to power is the most notable exception (outside of the Arab world) to this trend. Although the State Department issued a statement a few weeks prior to the coup emphasizing its opposition to any attempt to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by "extra-constitutional means," once the deed was done it pressed only for the "earliest possible restoration of civilian rule." Significantly, however, Clinton stopped for just four hours in Pakistan when he visited south Asia the following year, while spending four days in democratic India.

The United States initially strayed from making a categorical condemnation during the short-lived April 2002 coup in Venezuela. Rather than denouncing the coup, the Bush administration chastised President Hugo Chavez for provoking the crisis. However, the U.S. soon endorsed an Organization of American States (OAS) resolution condemning the coup, which fizzled days later. While the United States was sharply criticized in the Latin American media for its initial vacillation, this underscored how otherwise consistent its track record has been - people have come to expect immediate and categorical American opposition to constitutional disruptions in the region.

A second aspect of American support for rule of law is democracy aid designed to strengthen the legislative and judicial branches of government in democratizing states.

Civil-Political Rights

The third dimension of American democracy promotion concerns civil-political rights, understood here to mean human rights that are integral to the proper functioning of a democratic system - primarily freedoms of expression and assembly. Egregious denial of these freedoms, through imprisonment or killing of political dissidents, has not always triggered American sanctions, but it has often evoked some degree of public criticism by US officials. Most recently, on August 27, a State Department spokesman called for the release of Vietnamese dissident Pham Hong Son.

Although successive American governments have come under criticism for relegating concern about human rights in China behind economic and security interests, US policy toward Beijing is the exception that proves the rule - even when major national interests are at stake in a given relationship, public calls for the release of foreign political prisoners, often by name, are not usually seen as detrimental to constructive engagement.

Periodic releases of political prisoners in China have clearly been timed to curry favor in Washington.[8] Indeed, Human Rights Watch has complained that China uses political prisoners as "as pawns to win concessions from the international community."[9] This may be true, but it underscores China's recognition that how it treats political dissidents has an impact, however, marginal, on American policy.

Another trend indicative of increased American support for civil rights abroad during the 1990s was the reduction of American military assistance to regimes responsible for egregious human rights abuses. Military aid to Indonesia, for example, was reduced progressively throughout the 1990s and finally terminated in 1999. While there are exceptions (e.g. Columbia), on the whole allocations of American military aid outside of the Arab world have begun to reflect human rights concerns.

Civil Society

The fourth dimension of American democracy promotion is the strengthening of civil society, commonly understood to mean "organizations which are separate from the state, enjoy autonomy in relation to the state, and are formed voluntarily by members of the society to protect or extend their interests."[10] Civil society aid is understood here to mean economic assistance to foreign NGOs dedicated to advancing civil and political rights through advocacy and civic education. In the 1990s, civil society aid became a standard component of development assistance, alongside traditional aid sectors, such as healthcare and agriculture. Outside of the Middle East, the United States has provided funding, training, and other services to a broad range of NGOs, including human rights organizations, labor unions, student groups, as well as political parties and media. In addition to strengthening NGOs organizationally, civil society aid is a form of recognition that helps protect them from government crackdowns.

Unlike democracy aid designed to strengthen legislatures or train judges, civil society aid essentially bypasses the authorities. Although recalcitrant regimes can block the provision of American aid to local NGOs, rejecting civil society aid undermines a government's democratic credentials. As a result, USAID and QGNGOs tend to have much greater latitude in this domain of democracy promotion. NDI, in particular, has often played a key role in "friendly" countries where USAID is reluctant to provide substantial assistance to advocacy groups. During the mid-1990s, for example, when the United States strongly backed the regime of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, NDI offered extensive training to Croatian opposition parties. After the Croatian president died in 1999, these parties emerged as important political actors. NDI has filled this gap between American interests and American ideals in many other countries, such as Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam.

Economic Liberalization

Just as democratization is seen in Washington as advancing free enterprise abroad, economic liberalization is seen as advancing democracy. A common observation in Washington during the 1990s was that there has never been a constitutional democracy without a market economy. Thus, above and beyond "good governance" requirements for economic assistance, the United States and international financial institutions ostensibly contributed to the spread of democracy indirectly by pressing governments to carry out economic reforms that fundamentally alter state-society relations over time.

Economic liberalization usually necessitates some form of political liberalization for several reasons. First, the regime itself has incentives to provide some kind of political opening in order to co-opt beneficiaries of economic reforms who were hitherto excluded from the decision-making process. Second, economic liberalization increasing the proportion of economic resources in private hands, generating demands for greater political participation from the business community, which has a direct stake in increasing government accountability. Moreover, economic liberalization in the 21st century virtually requires a modern telecommunications infrastructure and the free flow of information, eroding the walls of ignorance that authoritarian regimes have historically built to suppress dissent.

Economic conditions usually associated with IMF loans include the adjustment of local currencies, decontrol of internal price systems, removal of consumer subsidies, removal of restrictions on external and internal trade flows; reduction of the state budget, bureaucratic downsizing, the removal of restrictions of private entrepreneurship, privatization of state enterprises, and banking reforms.

The IMF's influence is not just a reflection of its lending capacity, however. Even countries that do not seek loans from the IMF have a strong incentive to obtain its stamp of approval in order to attract international investment and private sector loans. Under Article IV of its Articles of Agreement, the IMF regularly holds bilateral consultations with each member state, usually on an annual basis, and provides it with a report evaluating its economic policies. While Article IV consultations are confidential, governments can request that the IMF issue a press information notice (PIN) summarizing its assessment - and those with good report cards nearly always make this request.

The Arab World

The Arab world was never officially excluded from the American doctrine of democratic enlargement. Public speeches and policy statements by senior US officials during the 1990s made reference to the desirability of political reform in the Middle East (though references to other goals, such as peace and political stability, were more frequent).[11] However, none of the five above-mentioned dimensions of democracy promotion have been earnestly pursued in the Arab world.

Free and Fair Elections

A striking indication that the United States has not placed a high premium on democratization in the region is the fact that the two largest recipients of American aid in the Arab world, Egypt and Jordan, did not hold internationally-monitored elections during the 1990s.[12] It does not appear that any US officials publicly urged either state to do so and official American reaction to their flawed elections never contained more than a hint of criticism.[13]

While a handful of other Arab states have seen fit to invite international election observers in the past, they have usually done so to influence opinions at home, not in Washington. In the Arab world, running a bona fide election is not seen as a ticket to improved ties with the United States. American reaction to Yemen's April 1993 legislative elections - by all accounts the freest and fairest of any Arab election in the last two decades - is revealing. Two weeks after the elections, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Mack arrived in Sana'a, saying he was "instructed to congratulate the Yemeni people and government."[14] However, his visit had more to do with American concerns that Yemen's electoral fever would spill over into neighboring Saudi Arabia. "I don't think you should look on what you do here as a model for anyone else to follow," he politely admonished Yemeni journalists.[15] He later added that an improvement in Yemen's relations with its neighbors would make it "more realistic to improve Yemen-US relations."[16] Yemen learned a harsh lesson the following year, when Saudi Arabia covertly backed a rebellion by southern separatists.

When American QGNGOS have been invited to observe Arab elections, they have usually not been free to evaluate them objectively. Outside of the Middle East, these organizations have applied relatively uniform standards in assessing the integrity of elections. While they generally avoid sending observers if they anticipate critical, systemic flaws in an election, their observer missions have not shied away from denouncing flagrantly unfair elections. Azerbaijan's November 2000 elections, for example, were described by NDI as failing to meet "even minimum international standards."[17] In contrast, American QGNGOs never observed an Arab election they didn't like during the 1990s. The following cases underscore this point:


In 1993, IFES sent a fourteen-member team of monitors to observe Morocco's legislative elections. Afterwards, the IFES released a report stating that the elections were "an indication of Morocco's continued democratic progress" and that the general consensus of the monitoring team was that "the people are gradually gaining more voice in national affairs."

However, one member of the IFES delegation, University of Maine anthropology professor Henry Munson, Jr. later wrote that "no such consensus existed" among the monitors and that he was disturbed by the "positive spin" IFES put on the elections, the results of which he said were "determined by King Hassan II long before a single vote is cast." One of the monitors owned a consulting firm in Washington and confided to Munson that he joined the IFES delegation primarily in order to strengthen his cordial relationship with the Moroccan ambassador to the US and encourage the Moroccan government to invest in a business venture he had launched in Utah.[18]


Following Yemen's 1997 legislative elections (which were boycotted by the country's largest opposition group), NDI's observer delegation released a statement that pointed out problems in the electoral process that should be corrected, but prefaced these "recommendations" with a caveat that would have been inconceivable if the elections had been held in a non-Arab country: "The delegation recognizes that it is the people of this nation who must ultimately judge the quality and character of these elections."[19] A similar reluctance to pass judgement was evident in NDI's pre-election observer delegation to Yemen's April 2001 parliamentary elections (subsequently postponed). In its report, the delegation took note of complaints that the government obstructs the ability of opposition groups to mobilize citizens, conduct party activities and campaign for office, but stated that it was "not in a position to evaluate" these claims. It did, however, consider itself qualified to pass judgement on Yemeni opposition parties:

Many opposition parties seem unwilling or unable to stand on their own two feet and to present clear alternatives to the government in a consistent way. The delegation observed that many parties were more content to complain about their current predicament, and to insist on external conditions for their participation, than to organize themselves to expand their membership and influence. Each party needs to assume responsibility for its own situation and to consider the future of a united Yemen instead of nurturing historical grievances. [20]

One indication that American support for democratization in the Arab world has grown in the aftermath of 9/11 is that NDI's assessment of Yemen's May 2003 identified "significant flaws" in the electoral process. Rather than leaving it to the Yemeni people to pass judgement on these flaws, the NDI report said that they "must be addressed effectively and in a sustained fashion if democratic progress is to be advanced" in Yemen.[21]

The one Arab country where the United States clearly exerted pressure for free and fair elections during the 1990s was Algeria, but it did not last. Since the country's bloody civil war was sparked by the military's annulment of parliamentary election results in 1992 (see below), American officials pressed the Algerian government to invite international observers for the 1997 parliamentary elections - and effusively praised it afterwards for having done so.[22]

When the government resisted international observation of its 1999 presidential election, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs Martin Indyk publicly called on the Algerian government to permit monitors. However, "not much was provided in terms of either carrots or sticks to persuade the authorities to accept international monitors," noted one analyst, and the election went ahead without them.[23] On the eve of the election, all six opposition candidates pulled out, alleging vote-rigging. Afterwards, State Department spokesman James Rubin carefully stated that his government did "not have enough information at this time to make an authoritative assessment, and we expect it will be very difficult to do so."[24] International observers were also absent during Algeria's May 2002 legislative elections, which witnessed a record low turnout and boycotts by two major opposition groups. In reaction, the State Department said only, "We support the democratic development of Algeria. We have seen progress in Algeria for greater democracy."[25]

American QGNGOs have offered technical support to indigenous election monitoring organizations in Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco. While this has enhanced the professionalism and efficiency of local watchdog groups, it cannot instill a willingness to risk confronting the authorities. More controversially, a lot of QGNGO support goes to "get out the vote" campaigns. Although urging citizens to vote is a worthy goal if the electoral system meets certain minimal standards of fairness, it inches perilously close to state propaganda if the electoral system is heavily flawed. In Lebanon and Yemen, where major opposition groups have boycotted the polls in hopes of pressuring the state into making electoral reforms, such initiatives are counterproductive.

Rule of Law

Although few Arab states have held anything approximating a free and fair election in recent years, most have at least adopted the formal trappings of democracy. In some countries, such as Algeria and Lebanon, the "elected" civilian leadership rotates regularly, but is controlled by other forces behind the scenes, while in others, such as Egypt and Syria, dictators are periodically "re-elected" in referendums. At times, underlying authoritarian forces in the Arab world have found it necessary to sweep aside this facade. Rather than meeting with American criticism, such constitutional disruptions have received tacit endorsement from the United States. Three cases in particular merit discussion.


On January 12, 1992, just days before the second round of Algeria's first ever multi-party elections were expected to hand a landslide victory to the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which had won handily during the first round in December, the country's military-led High Security Council seized power and canceled the elections. Over the next few days, the new military junta forced the resignation of President Chadli Benjadid and arrested FIS leader Abdelkadir Hachani and over 500 other ISF activists.

The next day, State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler expressed "concern" over the military coup, but stated that "their constitution calls for the creation of exactly what in my understanding is existing there on the ground today."[26] After a fierce debate between Middle East analysts and upper echelon US officials, Tutwiler issued a revision on January 14, stating that "we are not going to take sides on whether they are indeed operating within their Constitution or, as the opposition claims, they are not."[27]

The American reaction was driven mainly by concern that FIS would not maintain Algeria's democratic institutions once it assumed power. Although this concern was warranted (FIS leaders had responded evasively when asked if they would do this), the incident fell in line with a broader American pattern of recognizing unconstitutional transitions in the Arab world.


Two days after the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad in June 2000, American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a stunning breach of diplomatic protocol by announcing that Bashar Assad, the son and heir apparent of the late Syrian dictator "should take on the mantle" of leadership in Damascus.[2] Although Bashar had been groomed for the succession, at the time of his father's death he occupied no official position in the Syrian government. Moreover, there had been considerable speculation in the Arab press that Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam, to whom executive power had formally passed, would assert his constitutional prerogatives. Khaddam, one of the few Sunni Muslim senior officials in an Alawite-dominated regime, was even rumored to have some backing from predominantly Sunni Arab states.

Albright's statement embarrassed Arab leaders such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had earlier issued the cautious statement that Egypt would "respect the view of the Syrian people in their choice of president" when asked by reporters about Bashar's succession (he soon backtracked and, following Albright's lead, explicitly endorsed Bashar by name).[29] Albright and other American officials who attended Assad's funeral later that month further expressed their opposition to a constitutional transfer of power by declining to meet with Khaddam, the country's acting vice-president, during their stay in Damascus.


Since completing its conquest of Lebanon in October 1990, Syria has maintained control of the country mainly by manipulating its electoral system and co-opting the bulk of its postwar political elite. At times, however, Damascus has found it necessary to directly contravene Lebanon's constitution. It has not encountered American criticism when doing so.

About a month prior to the expiration of Lebanese President Elias Hrawi's term in 1995, the head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Ghazi Kanaan, arrived at the engagement party of a former prime minister's son and announced to the many parliament members present that they were to amend article 49 of the constitution, which bars a president from serving more than six consecutive years in office, and extend Hrawi's tenure for three more years. According to an account of the meeting published by the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat,

Kanaan then raised his hand, saying that the vote would take place by a raising of hands and would not be secret . . . Everyone looked as if they had just been through a cold shower . . . The party broke up early. Presidential hopefuls departed with their wives, one complaining of tiredness, another saying he had a headache.[30]

Later that month, the members of parliament obediently convened and extended Hrawi's term. That same day, a reporter asked US State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns to specify the American government's reaction to Hrawi's term extension. "It's a decision that only the Lebanese people should characterize," he replied. "I don't think it's proper for foreign governments sitting outside of Lebanon to comment on what is happening inside the country.[31] Three years later, when Syria again pressured the Lebanese parliament to amend the constitution in order to permit ascension of Gen. Emile Lahoud as president (the constitution bars sitting military officers from running for president), the United States remained silent.

Rule of Law Assistance

As it has elsewhere, USAID has funded programs to strengthen legislatures and judiciaries in the Arab world. However, in the absence of democratic elections and judicial independence, such initiatives are not very effective in developing checks on executive power. Computer upgrades and technical training for parliamentary staff in Egypt, for example, do little to strengthen a legislature whose members seldom attend debate sessions and rarely even show up to vote.[32] Elsewhere in the world, American initiatives to strengthen legislatures have not been intended to precipitate democratic change, but to consolidate democratic change after transitional elections have been held. In the absence of relatively free and fair legislative elections, programs to strengthen parliaments serve mainly to consolidate undemocratic political systems.

Civil-Political Rights

The United State has long avoided public criticism of civil rights violations in most Arab countries (Iraq, Libya, and Sudan have been exceptions because of their poor relations with Washington). In some cases, American diplomats have actively sought to shield friendly Arab governments from negative publicity about their rights practices. "When an American colleague sought to investigate police torture in Cairo several years ago, he was dissuaded from doing so by the US ambassador to Egypt, who assured him that President Mubarak would take steps to curb police torture," wrote British journalist Robert Fisk in 1998. "Nothing of the kind happened."[33]

US officials haven't appealed in public for the release of political prisoners in the Arab world. Consequentially, Arab regimes almost never release political prisoners to curry favor with Washington. This is not because they are less willing than China to barter away imprisoned dissidents. When international pressure for the release of dissidents has materialized from quarters other than the American executive branch, Arab regimes have been responsive. In September 2002, Syria released Riyad al-Turk, the secretary-general of the banned Syrian Communist Party-Politburo, after the European Union (EU) reportedly threatened not to sign a partnership agreement so long as he remained in prison.[34] In October 1994, the Lebanese authorities released eight activists detained for distributing anti-Syrian materials after three American senators released a statement protesting their arrest.[35]

Saad Eddine Ibrahim

The case of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a prominent Egyptian sociologist and director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies can be viewed as a "critical test" of American policy on civil rights in the Arab world for two reasons - he holds duel Egyptian and American citizenship, and his Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies once received funding from NED. If ever there was a political prisoner who should have met American conditions for contentious public diplomacy, it is Ibrahim.

Ibrahim and twenty-seven others affiliated with the center were arrested in 2000 on charges of "improperly" receiving funds from the European Commission and using the money to "damage Egypt's reputation" by producing a documentary that addressed flaws in the country's electoral process. US officials in Cairo merely expressed their concern that due process be followed. "We cannot say the man should not be in jail. They have charged him based on Egyptian law," said an American embassy spokesman.[36] As the case went to trial in February 2001, the New York Times noted its "chilling effect on the work of human rights groups and other independent research organizations" in Egypt.[37] After his conviction, the United States continued to pursue only "quiet diplomacy" to secure his release.

By the time Ibrahim was convicted for a second time in July 2002 (his first conviction was thrown out by Egypt's semi-independent judiciary), international publicity surrounding the case had reached an unprecedented level and the Bush administration shifted gears - leaking to press that it had rejected an Egyptian request for $134 million in additional aid because of the Ibrahim case. Although the move was entirely symbolic (a House committee had already rejected the request and it was no longer under consideration at the time of the announcement), it clearly contributed to Ibrahim's release in December 2002 and his acquittal in a third trial earlier this year.

Civil Society

While USAID has devoted considerable resources to strengthening civil society in other regions of the world, its democracy and governance programs in the Middle East have conspicuously neglected this dimension of democracy assistance. Few bona fide human rights groups in the Arab world have benefited directly from American assistance. Again, a close look at Egypt illustrates the regional trend.

The leading recipient of USAID civil society funding in Egypt is the NGO Service Center, which has received about $40 million since the late 1990s. Although the center ostensibly aims to "increase the participation of citizens and non-governmental organizations in public decisionmaking,"[38] it is sponsored by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs and the government is represented on its board of directors. Moreover, it does not provide services to NGOs that aren't registered by the government (such as the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights). USAID has also poured millions of dollars into the state-run Egyptian Trade Union Federation, ostensibly to pre-position it for "eventual independence."

In the early to mid-1990s, some liberal NGOs, such as the Ibn Khaldun Center and the Group for Democratic Development (GDD), received modest grants from NED, but this came at a time when the government was fighting a bloody Islamist insurgency and allowed secular think tanks to operate more freely. Moreover, the leaders and governing boards of such groups often had ties to the government. Saad Eddine Ibrahim, for example, was once an advisor to President Mubarak (and a close personal friend of his wife). Once the armed Islamist insurgency had been defeated, the government restricted the flow of funding to these groups.

Although all Arab governments exercise de facto veto power over American funding of NGOs, in Egypt it has been formalized into law. "We can't just take funds from USAID," said Negad Borai, former director of the GDD. "We needed a photocopying machine and I asked USAID if they could give me one of their old machines, which they were going to replace. They said to me: 'We can leave the old machine in the street, but we can't give it to you'."[39]

While Lebanon has a vibrant array of NGOs working to protect human rights and advance political reform, the United States has shunned them. When I asked USAID's mission director in Lebanon, Jon Breslar, why it does not engage local NGOs, he replied that USAID has an "active civil society program" in the country and pointed to Kulluna Massoul as an example of a local advocacy NGO supported by USAID. However, according to the director of a prominent human rights group in Beirut, Kulluna Massoul was established specifically for the sole purpose of spending a $1.5 million USAID grant for anti-corruption work. "Rather than contacting one of the existing NGOs already working on this issue, USAID officials hand-picked a group of 'friends' to start this group, which promptly spent most of its budget on television advertisements," he said on condition of anonymity. Moreover, the key message of Kulluna Massoul (enshrined in its own name, which means "We are all responsible" in Arabic) is that corruption is a societal problem, not a symptom of undemocratic governance - in effect, a regurgitation of pro-Syrian propaganda. Two other prominent NGO directors also complained that USAID avoided contact with existing NGOs calling for political reform.[40] American QGNGOs have been more apt to assist bona fide human rights groups in Lebanon, but on a much smaller scale.

Economic Liberalization

Although economic liberalization in the Middle East has long been an avowed aim of American policy, the United States has been more reluctant to promote economic liberalization in Arab states than it has elsewhere in the world. The case of Egypt - often heralded by US officials as leading the Arab world in economic reform - illustrates the contours of official American thinking.

If the United States had been as committed to pushing economic reform in the Arab world as it has elsewhere, one would expect to see results most of all in Egypt for several reasons. First, of all Arab states, Egypt has ostensibly been on the road to reform the longest. As USAID's Cairo office notes on its web site, "for the past 28 years, the United States and Egypt collaborated closely as partners in economic development."[41] Second, as the recipient of over $2 billion of American economic and military assistance annually, Egypt should have been able to more easily endure the period of austerity typically associated with economic reform. Third, this massive level of American aid would be expected to give US officials enormous leverage over Egyptian decision-making. Fourth, pouring such a staggering amount of money into the Egyptian economy should generate a much greater vested interest on the part of US officials in promoting what they see as responsible economic policies. American officials are, in fact, heavily involved in all sectors of the Egyptian economy. USAID's presence in the country is much larger than anywhere else in the world, with a staff of over 300 (around 80 Americans, 240 Egyptian and foreign nationals).

Egyptian Exports

However, after nearly thirty years of American-guided "economic reform," Egypt has not made the transition from a closed, statist economy to an open, export-driven economy. In fact, its exports currently account for roughly 8% of its GDP - a decline since the mid-1970s. By comparison, exports account for 15% of Mexico's GDP and 44% of South Korea's GDP.[42] It is not difficult to determine why exports have stagnated. Privatization - the cornerstone of any serious effort to open up markets - has been incomplete and distorted.

Although some state enterprises have been privatized, the beneficiaries of this process have been limited mainly to a few dozen tycoons who are close to the Egyptian president and enjoy preferential access to capital. A former cabinet minister offered this characterization:

All these fat cat investors take advantage of the state. The biggest loans go to the politically most influential. Once you have a 'name' in the market, you can fund a project without a penny of your own money. There are people who can borrow hundreds of millions by a simple phone call to the president of a bank, while a serious businessman is killed before credit is given to him.[43]

Entirely excluded from the privatization process is the Egyptian defense industry, a network of state enterprises that originally produced mainly military goods, but has come under President Mubarak to dominate civilian sectors ranging from automobile assembly to chicken farming. These companies, which are run by ex-generals and have access to cheap labor from Egypt's bloated armed forces, are entirely "off-budget," making them a lucrative source of loyalty-inspiring patronage. "At first sight it might seem that power has shifted from the barracks to the boardroom," said one Egyptian economist in 1999. In reality, "the army has moved into business."[44]

Another major failing of economic reform in Egypt is the fact that the government has not downsized its bloated, inefficient bureaucracy. "There are 7 million civil servants in Egypt, and the government is still recruiting," said Heba Handoussa, managing director of the Economic Research Forum, a Cairo think tank.[45]

Part of the reason why major structural reforms have not been carried out is the lack of political reform. "Lacking genuine popular legitimacy that could come from genuine democratic processes, Mubarak badly needs the economic levers of reward and punishment that Egypt's statist economic structures give him to co-opt opponents and reward supporters," one scholar noted recently.[46] But this begs other questions. Autocrats the world over prefer statist, patronage-ridden economies, but most have eventually been forced by necessity to pursue economic reform as a means of attracting foreign investment and acquiring debt-relief loans and other subsidies from the international community.

Instead of being used as a "sweetener" to push Egypt along the road to economic reform, American aid to Egypt has helped Mubarak endure the costs of his failure to liberalize the economy. Around $200 million of the $2.1 billion in economic and military aid Egypt receives annually from the United States is ostensibly conditional upon economic reforms. Because of delays in economic reform projects, a backlog of committed, but not disbursed funds had accumulated by the end of the 1990s. However, in early 2002 the United States released $809 million of backlogged economic aid to Egypt, despite the fact that the attached reform conditions had not been met.[47]

At times, Egypt has suffered economic crises in spite of this massive injection of American aid. However, rather than letting Egypt go it alone in the pursuit of additional international financial assistance (which might have induced it to pursue major reforms), the United States has forgiven Egyptian debts and pressed international financial institutions to relax loan conditions. In return for Egyptian support during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis, the United States not only canceled $7 billion of Egypt debt, but persuaded Arab and European creditors to do likewise and used its influence on the World Bank and IMF to offer financial aid. Official development assistance to Egypt from industrialized countries skyrocketed from $1.8 billion in 1989 to $5.7 billion in 1990 and $10 billion in 1992.[48] Over the next decade, "the pivotal role of Egypt in the Middle East led the IMF, under pressure from the United States, to interpret its loan conditions more flexibly."[49]

Most other Arab states have also failed to implement major economic reforms.[50] Inflation-adjusted per capita income in the Arab world grew at a rate of about 1% annually from 1990-1999, while the labor force grew at a rate of 3.1% per year, resulting in an average unemployment rate of 15%.[51] In most cases, what passes as economic reform bears striking similarities to that of Egypt. In Morocco, observes one expert, "the state has mostly sold assets in distress to organized individuals who have long used the state for their personal benefit."[52] According to another study, "the weak Algerian business class was alienated from the inept reform effort, standing to gain much less than senior cadres and officers-turned entrepreneurs." The same study finds that Arab governments in north Africa became more dependent on and less accountable to international financial institutions during the 1990s.[53]

Lebanon, often hailed as a bastion of free enterprise in the Arab world, has a fairly large private sector, but here too politics flood the market - virtually all economic sectors are dominated by a relatively small political elite. Instead of facilitating competitive bidding for contracts, the government distributes lucrative deals to members of this elite. Like Egypt, Lebanon has been able to survive without dismantling this system of patronage because international creditors, led by the United States and France, have banded together to subsidize it.

At the time of Bashar Assad's ascension in Syria, most observers expected him to undertake a major economic reform drive. Having inherited control over one of the poorest countries in the Middle East (per capita GNP being a mere $1010 in 1999), saddled by one of the highest rates of annual population growth in the region (2.7%), negative economic growth (-1.7% in 1999), skyrocketing unemployment (estimated at 20%), a negative balance of trade, and dwindling oil reserves (2.5 billion barrels), Assad seemingly had no alternative other than major structural reform.

However, about four months after Assad's ascension, Syria began importing an estimated 200,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day in violation of UN sanctions, allowing it to increase its own oil exports, a scheme which earned the Syrian regime about $1.5 billion annually. After some initial grumbling by the incoming administration of George W. Bush in early 2001, the United States abruptly stopped raising the issue publicly. Without American tolerance of its continuing violation of UN sanctions, Syria would not have been able to siphon massive quantities of cut-rate petroleum through a partly exposed pipeline. In a sense, Syria's windfall Iraqi oil scam was (like American tolerance of Jordanian and Turkish imports of Iraqi oil) a form of indirect economic aid from the United States. Like American aid to Egypt, this new source of funds was not used to achieve a "soft" reform landing, but to postpone major economic reforms altogether.

Paradigm Shift?

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks led to a shift in official American thinking about democratization in the Middle East by discrediting the idea that American-backed autocratic regimes can serve as a bulwark against radical Islamist terrorism. US officials and policy experts have increasingly come to believe that the absence of democracy has radicalized Islamist movements by denying them peaceful channels of expression and that the attendant economic costs of authoritarian governance have swelled their ranks. Moreover, in Riyadh and Damascus, elements of the ruling elite have been directly implicated in terrorism abroad. Beneath their tough veneers, governments in the Arab world were revealed to be corrupt and easily penetrated by those who wished harm to befall the United States.

Over the last year, the Bush administration has repeatedly declared democracy promotion in the Arab world to be at the heart of its Mideast policy. In September 2002, President Bush formally unveiled a new National Security Strategy that declared democracy to be "right and true for every person in every society." In December 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the establishment of a new program, the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), to promote economic, political and educational reform in the region.[54]

While openly calling for democracy in the Arab world is itself a major change in American policy, it is not yet clear whether substantive changes have been made in how American-Arab relations are conducted. Although the administration announced in April 2003 that $4 million of MEPI funds will be granted to NGOs in 10 Arab countries to conduct human rights and democracy projects, the effectiveness of this money will depend on which groups receive it. This, in turn, will hinge on who makes the decision in Washington. MEPI is directly managed by the State Department's Near East Affairs Bureau, not USAID.

Given the State Department's tendency to privilege inter-government relations over other policy priorities, its control over MEPI funds is not consistent with vigorous support of Arab civil society.[55] Indeed, it is already evident that the State Department does not share the Bush administration's enthusiasm about facilitating political reforms in the Arab world. Earlier this year, it released a classified report, distributed to senior officials but not publicly disclosed, which concluded that "political changes conducive to broader and enduring stability throughout the region will be difficult to achieve for a very long time."[56]

Much more important than the allocation of MEPI funds is the choice of words used by senior officials in reference to Arab politics. On this score, the Bush administration has made some subtle, but important, breaks with the past. One important element of Powell's December 2002 speech at the Heritage Foundation was his remark that "countries such as Bahrain, Qatar, and Morocco have embarked on bold political reforms." After receiving an advance copy of this speech, Jordan had filed an objection to this passage, insisting that it too should be included. The request was turned down, apparently because Jordanian King Abdallah had been ruling by decree since he dissolved parliament in mid-2001 and kept postponing new elections. Within weeks of Powell's speech, Abdallah set a date for legislative elections.[57] In late 2002, Powell told the Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi that Saudi Arabia "will have to start examining (its) traditions and ... practices to see whether or not change is appropriate."[58] Within a few months, Saudi liberals submitted a petition to Crown Prince Abdullah demanding steps toward political liberalization. The Bush administration's criticism of Egypt's handling of the Ibrahim case also represented a break from the past.

While it may not be feasible for the administration to directly fund bona fide advocates of democratization in the Arab world, its bold use of public diplomacy can inspire them. In light of its vigorous promotion of democratization elsewhere in the world, Washington's past support for authoritarian regimes in the Middle East has severely alienated liberal Arab intellectuals who most aspire to emulate American democracy. The editor of the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, Abdelbari Atwan, spoke for many when he complained in 1999 that "the winds of democratic change have swept all parts of the world except our region, because [American Secretary of State Madeleine] Albright wants us to have dictators and monarchical presidents to ensure that we remain weak and vanquished."[59] The Bush administration has gone much further than any of its predecessors in contravening this impression.


  [1] The failure to acknowledge this discrepancy stems in part from the fact that most scholars who question the avowed benevolence of American policy in the Middle East subscribe to either realist international relations theory (which discounts the extent to which the pace of democratization can be influenced by external pressure) or neo-Marxist dependency theory (which discounts the idea that powerful nations might intentionally promote democratization).
  [2] See Anthony Lake, "From Containment to Enlargement," prepared text of speech delivered at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, 21 September 1993; Warren Christopher, statement before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary, House Appropriations Committee, 10 March 1993; Strobe Talbott, speech before the Denver Summit of the Eight Initiative on Democracy & Human Rights, Washington DC, 1 October 1997.
  [3] Mark Robinson, "Aid, Democracy, and Conditionality in sub-Saharan Africa," in Georg Sorensen, Political Conditionality (London: Frank Cass/EADI), p. 92.
  [4] Elizabeth Spiro Clark, International Standards and Democratization: Certain Trends, Fall 2001.
  [5] Eric Bjornlund, "Democracy Inc.," The Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2001.
  [6] IFES web site, Regional Activities - Africa.
  [7] "Civilian Rule Is Restored in Ecuador; Vice President Takes Power After Foreign Pressure," The Washington Post, 23 January 2000.
  [8] China's November 1996 release of dissident Chen Ziming came a few weeks prior to then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher's visit to China. Wei Jingsheng, the most outspoken reformist in China since the 1949 Communist revolution, was released in November 1997 - two weeks after Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Washington. Wang Dan, a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests who US President Bill, was released a few months prior to US President Bill Clinton's June 1998 visit to China. In December 2002, China released pro-democracy activists Xu Wenli just one week after U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner visited Beijing and appealed to Chinese officials to release him.
  [9] "Human rights group slams 'cynical' release of Chinese dissident," Agence France Presse, 7 November 1996.
  [10] Gordon White, "Civil Society, Democratization and Development (I): Clearing the Analytical Ground," Democratization, vol. 1, no. 3 (Autumn 1994), p. 379.
  [11] In 1995, for example, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau told a congressional subcommittee that "promoting more open political and economic systems, and respect for human rights and rule of law" was one of seven American objectives in the region. Hearing of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, 11 May 1995.
  [12] Jordan usually issues special passes to European and American diplomats to tour polling stations, but has not allowed foreign NGOs to observe its elections.
  [13] Even Egypt's notorious 1995 parliamentary elections, which the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights called "a real insult to democracy," failed to evoke American criticism - a State Department spokesman praised the high turnout and acknowledged only that allegations of voting fraud had been made, adding "we trust that they'll all be fully investigated." President Mubarak later boasted that "neither the United States nor any other country has explicitly or implicitly called for an investigation into the elections." See Agence France Presse, 4 December 1995; Agence France Presse, 12 December 1995.
  [14] Yemen Times, 16 May 1993.
  [15] "Success of Yemeni elections prompts worries for Saudis," The Financial Times (London), 14 May 1993.
  [16] "Yemen's Parliament Courts the Saudis," The Christian Science Monitor (Boston), 19 May 1993.
  [17] NDI Reports, No. 1, 2001.
  [18] Henry Munson, Jr., "International Election Monitoring: A Critique Based on One Monitor's Experience in Morocco," Middle East Report, Winter 1998.
  [19] Preliminary statement of the NDI observer delegation, 30 April 1997.
  [20] Statement of the NDI Pre-Election Delegation to Yemen's April 2001 Parliamentary Election, 6 August 2000, published in Yemen Times, 14-20 August 2000.
  [21] Inter Press Service, 6 May 2003.
  [22] Press Statement by US Department of State Spokesman Nicholas Burns, 9 June 1997.
  [23] Faisal Kutty, "Hopes for Multi-Party Election to End Algeria's Nightmare Die With April 15 One-Candidate Choice," Middle East Report, June 1999.
  [24] Following Algeria's 1997 legislative elections, the State Department issued a statement saying, "We commend the government of Algeria for holding parliamentary elections and for inviting international observers to monitor them. We praise the Algerian people for their courage in voting. They are the best judge of how the election results will contribute to the process of national reconciliation in Algeria." US Department of State Daily Briefing, 16 April 1999.
  [25] US Department of State, Daily Briefing, 30 May 2002.
  [26] US Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, 13 January 1992.
  [27] US Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, 14 January 1992.
  [28] "Albright urges Syria to open up, urges Bashar to assume father's mantle," Agence France Presse, 12 June 2000.
  [29] "Egypt shows signs of concern for Syrian stability," Agence France Presse, 11 June 2000.
  [30] Al-Hayat, 2 October 1995. Translated excerpt in William Harris, Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions (Princeton: Markus Weiner Publishers, 1997), p. 295. See also "Syria wants Lebanese legislators to extend Hrawi's term for three years by a show of hands," Mideast Mirror, 2 October 1995.
  [31] US Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, 19 October 1995.
  [32] In 1995, parliament passed a major law restricting freedom of the press with only 7% of deputies in attendance. See "Egypt: A Middle Eastern Indonesia in the Making?" Mideast Mirror, 10 November 1999.
  [33] Robert Fisk, "So No One Can Say 'We Didn't Know'," Middle East Report, Fall 1998.
  [34] "Reform at a snail's pace in Damascus," Mideast Mirror, 6 January 2003, citing an article by Syrian journalist Subhi Hadidi, 6 January 2003.
  [35] Human Rights Watch, World Report 1995.
  [36] The Washington Post, 5 July 2000.
  [37] The New York Times, 18 February 2001.
  [38] Brochure of the NGO Service Center, 1999. Cited in Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid, "A Clash of Values: US Civil Society Aid and Islam in Egypt," in Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers (eds.), Funding Virtue: Civil Society Aid and Democracy Promotion (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2000), p. 59.
  [39] The Independent (London), 12 October 1999.
  [40] Interviews with author, April-May 2001.
  [41] USAID-Egypt web site
  [42] Stephen J. Glain, "Land of Economic Unrest: Middle East beset by fiscal chaos, lack of capital," Boston Globe, 24 August 2003.
  [43] "Egypt: A Middle Eastern Indonesia in the Making?" Mideast Mirror, 10 November 1999.
  [44] "Egypt: A Middle Eastern Indonesia in the Making?" Mideast Mirror, 10 November 1999. For more on Egypt's defense industry, see Timothy Mitchell, "America's Egypt: Discourse of the Development Industry," Middle East Report, March-April 1991, p. 33.
  [45] Stephen J. Glain, "Land of Economic Unrest: Middle East beset by fiscal chaos, lack of capital," Boston Globe, 24 August 2003.
  [46] Thomas Carothers, "Zakaria's Complaint," The National Interest, Summer 2003.
  [47] See Patrick Clawson and Amy Hawthorne, "Assessing the $959 Million in Accelerated Economic Aid to Egypt," Policywatch No. 591, 7 January 2002.
  [48] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile-Egypt, 1993-94. These statistics exclude American military assistance.
  [49] Devesh Kapur, "The IMF: A Cure or a Curse?" Foreign Policy, Summer 1998.
  [50] Tunisia stands apart from the pack in having committed itself to sweeping economic reform. As result, it achieved annual economic growth of 4.5% in the 1990s and its per capita income is now double that of Egypt's. In recent years, Jordan has also implemented sweeping economic reforms.
  [51] Stephen J. Glain, "Land of Economic Unrest: Middle East beset by fiscal chaos, lack of capital," Boston Globe, 24 August 2003.
  [52] Jeffrey A. Coupe, "Courting His Majesty: USAID in King Hassan's Morocco," Middle East Policy No. 55, p. 165.
  [53] Bradford L. Dillman, "Facing the Market in North Africa," The Middle East Journal, Vol. 55, No. 1, Spring 2001.
  [54] Colin L. Powell, The US-Middle East Partnership Initiative: Building Hope for the Years Ahead, Heritage Lecture #772, 12 December 2002.
  [55] One study of USAID assistance to Morocco concluded that "what USAID sorely needs is distance and slack from the mandate of the US State Department policy in order to deal with the obdurate characteristics of Moroccan politics." See Jeffrey A. Coupe, "Courting His Majesty: USAID in King Hassan's Morocco," Middle East Policy 55, p. 168.
  [56] "Democracy Domino Theory 'Not Credible'," The Los Angeles Times, 14 March 2003.
  [57] Al-Majd (Amman), 23 December 2002.
  [58] Powell says reform Saudi's choice, BBC, 14 December 2002.
  [59] Al-Quds al-Arabi (London), 14 October 1999.

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