|Obama urged to Push for Democracy in Muslim World|
The signatories call on the administration to make supporting democracy and its proponents in the Middle East a top foreign policy priority, even in countries that are U.S. allies such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The authors call on the United States to “use its considerable economic and diplomatic leverage to put pressure on its allies in the region when they fail to meet basic standards of human rights.”
“Because of its association with the Bush administration, there is a temptation to move away from any discussion of democracy promotion in the Middle East. That would be a mistake," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Project on Middle East Democracy and a letter co-convener. The letter lauds the President’s initial efforts to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world, but cautions that the U.S. must demonstrate its commitment to democratic reform through actual policy changes.
The letter demonstrates strong support across the ideological spectrum for a renewed commitment to supporting democratic reform in the region, and for supporting the political inclusion of moderate Islamist groups. Among the more than 80 signatories are: Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins University; Morton Halperin, former director of policy planning at the State Department; Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House; Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The New Republic; Georgetown Professor John L. Esposito, and democracy expert Larry Diamond of Stanford University; author and blogger Matt Yglesias, and Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Several of the co-signers will be available during the news conference to answer questions from the media about the policy recommendations included in the open letter, including Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Radwan Masmoudi, Jennifer Windsor, Larry Diamond, Geneive Abdo, and others.