Arab countries have made progress since the mid-20th century in a number of basic development goals; however, entrenched authoritarianism has obstructed sustained human development and domestic pressure for reform has been effectively muzzled by incumbent regimes.
A recent U.S. Senate resolution that addresses human rights and civil liberties in Egypt is meant to pressure the regime ahead of upcoming elections, but it is symbolic and not binding.
Although full democracy in the Arab world remains a distant goal, broader participation in the political process, with a marked effect on human development, can be achieved.
Egypt has changed significantly in the past decades, as spheres of public activity that once were off limits -- free media and civil society advocacy -- have become legitimate in the eyes of the government, and even more important, in the eyes of Egyptian citizens.
While Prime Minister Netanyahu was received warmly on his recent visit to Washington, progress on the peace process remains in doubt. If direct negotiations are to resume, the split among Palestinians will hamper—and arguably prevent—the ability of President Abbas to negotiate on behalf of the divided people.
The West should not restrict its democracy promotion efforts only to those countries that are perceived as already having the institutional, social, and economic framework needed for a true democracy.
As the political stalemate in Iraq continues to drag on, the major parties and politicians continue to attempt to wrangle the greatest amount of power for themselves even as they continue to break constitutionally mandated deadlines.
Even if Fayyad is making mild administrative and fiscal improvements in some areas, this cannot obscure the deeper problem that most Palestinian political institutions are actually in deep trouble and the most important ones are in a state of advanced decay.
The international community’s understandable admiration for Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his efforts to rebuild the West Bank obscures a dangerous regression in democracy and human rights.
The Arab media coverage of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla painted the events in religious terms, disregarding the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and provoking audiences to anger rather than enabling a rational and constructive response.