The Summit for Democracy Skips the Arab World
Ben Fishman of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy considers the potential for the Summit to impact democracy in the Arab World, from which only Iraq was invited to the Summit. The Arab Uprisings of ten years ago have not translated into better democratic outcomes, with reforms following the protests "wholly or partly aimed at avoiding deep change". Fishman contends that the US has two fundamental tools for effectively promoting democracy in the Arab World: diplomacy, including public and private messaging, and assistance programmes targeted towards reformers, activists and receptive governments. The author recommends that the US take the opportunity of the Year of Action to reengage with the region, particularly in protecting free speech, media, and activists in partner countries. Assistance funding should also be revaluated and increased. Key to efforts will be developing consistent messages on reform objectives and helping regional partners focus initially on protecting free speech, dissidents and civil society.