POMED’s Cole Bockenfeld Discusses the Rise of Populism with Middle East Eye

On January 13, 2017 POMED’s Deputy Director for Policy, Cole Bockenfeld was interviewed for the Middle East Eye about the worrying rise of populism and how it affects human rights across the globe.

“What we saw from the campaign was Trump’s open admiration for autocrats,” Cole Bockenfeld, the deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) told Middle East Eye. “One of the ones he consistently speaks of is (Egyptian President Abdel Fattah) Sisi, and that his model and leadership in Egypt is something we need more of, and I think for a lot of the rights community, that’s a real concern.”

Leaders of Middle Eastern countries have long pointed to the United States’s history of human rights abuses in response to criticism of their own. Bockenfeld told MEE that the contradictions we’re seeing now are nothing new.

“For years, autocrats in the region have always talked about Guantanamo, or when Bush talked about (human rights violations) in certain countries but when it’s your allies, you’re more quiet,” Bockenfeld said. “It’s not something new in practice, but the emphasis and how the new policies and priorities are being shaped, it is a new tone. That our relationships are transactional.”

He added that openly admitting the nature of the relationship is a new tact that authoritarian governments in the Middle East have been pushing for.

Read the full article here.