The POMED Wire

United States Assumes Presidency of Community of Democracies

On July 22nd, 2015, the United States assumed presidency of the 27-member Governing Council of the Community of Democracies (CD) for the 2015-2017 term. The CD is a “global, intergovernmental coalition of states” that works to strengthen democratic values and institutions across the world by empowering governments, civil society, and the private sector. Founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. Bronislaw Geremek in 2000, the CD abides by the principles of the Warsaw Declaration, which details the norms and practices for the “effective establishment and consolidation of democracy.”

A press release states that the United States will work with the Secretary General during its two-year presidency to prioritize “critical governance issues, including supporting civil society, strengthening democratic institutions,” and “promoting good governance and protecting human rights.” In a video message to the CD at the biennial ministerial conference in El Salvador, President Barack Obama expressed gratitude for the “broad support” for the U.S. presidency, stating that the United States will hold the next Governing Council meeting in late September.  UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon also made a statement at the conference, noting that while democracy is on the rise, it faces many

Hearing: Nomination of Ambassador to the Republic of Tunisia

On July 30th, 2015, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing for the nomination of Daniel H. Rubinstein as Ambassador to the Republic of Tunisia. The hearing also included nominees for Ambassadors to the Central African Republic,the Republic of Gambia, the Republic of Benin, and the Togolese Republic. To watch a video of the hearing, click here. To view these notes as a PDF, click here.

Rubinstein began his statement by thanking President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for his nomination, asserting that Tunisia is an important partner and major non-NATO ally to the United States. He noted that his years of experience as a foreign service officer and an extensive background in economic and counterterrorism efforts will be critically useful in his posting to Tunisia. Rubinstein voiced his “abiding respect and admiration for the country, its culture, and its people,” and pledged to work to advance U.S. national interests in Tunisia as well as help deepen the partnership between the two nations. In May, Essebsi and Obama affirmed the “enduring partnership” of the United States and Tunisia based on shared values, which Rubinstein said is an important reminder and counterpoint …

Security Assistance Monitor Spotlight – New $122m Saudi Arms Sale Announced

Last Friday, Raytheon, one of the United States’ largest defense contractors, announced a joint contract to be shared between the Saudi Armed Forces and the United States Navy to be completed by April 2018. The $180 million dollar deal affords 355 Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOW), associated supplies and services to Saudi Arabia, and 200 JSOWs to the United States. The $122.7 million of equipment to Saudi Arabia is part of the Foreign Military Sales program in which the U.S. Department of Defense can facilitate arms sales by acting as a liaison between foreign governments and private corporations.

Purchasing more than $6.4 billion in 2014 alone, up 54 percent from the previous year, Saudi Arabia has become the largest arms importer in the world, with projections of 52 percent further growth to $9.8 billion in 2015. Since 2005, the United States has sold over $22 billion of combined FMS and Direct Commercial Sales to the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in a five month military offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen.  Estimates calculate that the Saudi Arabian air campaign has cost the Kingdom anywhere between $500 million to $1 billion thus far.

For more information on U.S. security assistance …

Event Notes: “Elections and Libya’s Democratic Transition”

On Tuesday, July 27th, 2015, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) held an event titled “Elections and Libya’s Democratic Transition,” featuring a conversation with Dr. Emad Alsaiah, chairman of the Libyan High National Elections Commission (HNEC). IFES President Bill Sweeney introduced Alsaiah, highlighting his role in establishing an election commission in Libya and serving as the technician for the 2012 election, where he oversaw a period of voting that was a new experience for the country. Alsaiah then began his remarks, thanking IFES for helping with Libya’s democratic transition, particularly regarding the election of officials to the country’s National Congress.

To read these notes as a PDF, click here

Alsaiah conveyed his intention to speak about the electoral side of Libya’s democratic transition, while noting that the process is closely tied to the country’s challenging political situation. One of the challenges of democratic processes at the political level, said Alsaiah, is the current political environment in the Arab region, often featuring a “façade” of “artificial democracy” rather than governments that are truly committed to democracy.  Additionally challenging for Libya, he noted, is that the elites leading the transitional phase lack a refined understanding of democracy. They are …

Highlights of the 2014 State Dept. Human Rights Report on Iraq

The State Department released its 2014 Human Rights Report for Iraq, which noted that the majority of the country’s  human rights violations were committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Despite free and fair national parliamentary elections, which led to a peaceful transition in power, ISIL committed human rights violations such as; “large scale and frequent killings, attacks and offensive operations over large areas of the country; abuses against government officials, women, children, ethnic and religion minorities; and civilians. ” Other major human rights violations committed by the government include; “disappearances; life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities; arbitrary arrest;  denial of fair public trial; ineffective implementation of civil judicial procedures; limits on freedoms of speech, press, and assembly.”

Civil liberties that have been violated in Iraq include: freedom of press and speech, internet freedom, academic freedom, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, and protection of refugees. Journalists and other members of the media practice self-censorship in order to protect themselves from the government’s restrictions on “violating public order.” There were reports of journalists being arrested or harassed for covering “politically sensitive topics” related to “poor security, corruption, and weak …

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