Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Foreign Policy in Focus: the summer of revolt in Arab states

The US Journal Foreign Policy in Focus is always a good source for articles on international events and a critical analyses of American and western foreign policy hegemony.

This weeks edition has a number of pieces on the Arab summer of revolt and uprisings in Syria, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, and the potential of Turkey to provide a model for other Arab democracies;
"The revolutions of 1989 toppled a number of undemocratic regimes but failed, in Tiananmen Square, to transform Chinese politics. Similarly, the Arab Spring has come up against serious resistance. And the Obama administration continues to hesitate.

In Syria, the government of Bashar al-Assad has killed at least 850 people and imprisoned 8,000 others. "In an age where Islamic extremism and terrorism continue to dominate Washington’s foreign policy relations in the Middle East, the Obama administration has been careful not to prematurely push Assad overboard," writes Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) contributor Daniel DePetris in Don't Count Bashar Out.
"White House rhetoric is heating up, President Obama’s National Security Council continues to demand that Assad halt the killing of unarmed protesters, and the administration has recently drafted individual sanctions. But in the case of Syria, Washington has yet to adopt the regime-change outlook that became so prevalent during the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings." 

In Yemen, too, Washington has been reluctant to jettison an ally. "Since Obama came to office in January 2009, U.S. security assistance to the Yemeni regime has gone up 20-fold," writes FPIF columnist Stephen Zunes in Yemen on the Edge. "Despite such large-scale unconditional support, however, the 32-year reign of autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh may finally be coming to an end. Yet the Obama administration has been ambivalent in its support for a democratic transition in this impoverished but strategically important country."

Meanwhile, the leaders of the Arab Spring are looking around for role models. FPIF contributor Richard Javad Heydarian looks at the potential of Turkey to serve as an example for aspiring Arab democrats. "Political freedom, accountability, corruption, and economic justice are at the center of democratic protests," he writes in Arab Spring, Turkish Summer? "Turkey’s record on these issues has drawn the notice of many in the Islamic world. But Turkey’s experience with electoral politics and market economics is unique, a response to the specifics of Turkish history and culture. The example therefore may not be replicable."

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