This document reviews the United States Policy in the Middle East region, and its attitude towards the various Islamic movements in the region. The document further investigates the role of the U. S. policy in the Arab countries, like Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. President Bush and his administration has viewed the democracy promotion policy in the Middle East as a national security policy, affirming that larger political liberty can weaken the military forces of Islamic extremism and propaganda.
As the propaganda of promoting democracy in the Middle East has gained momentum, the U. S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and her policy makers have faced a major obstruction of how should United States refer to the challenges that the Islamic movements are posing against the United States. In reference to these issues many experts have questioned the interference of United States itself within the Middle East region, and its actions of exerting pressure over the governments to step into a democratic system.
Many of the powerful Islamic groups have openly opposed the United States and its policies amongst these are occupation of Iraq, support to Israel, and the presence of the United States Military in the Persian Gulf. OVERVIEW The attack on World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, has provoked United States to promote democracy in the Region which is a threat to the United States. Also his justification for the invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration has been following the campaigns closely as an issue of national security policy for the United States.
The Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice states that a higher level of political freedom and establishment of democracy in this region will undercut the Islamic forces that are against the United States. On the other hand, with constant sectarian aggression in Iraq and Arab regime determinedly ingrained in influence, this strategy has come under growing inspection. Many of the experts have questions this strategy and the U. S. capability to bring about the social changes the region. Yet, in spite of ongoing uncertainties over U. S.
honesty, deepness of promise, and steadiness on the democratization subject, the massive concentration that Middle East or Arab countries have received since the September 11th terrorist attacks is thought by many doubters and supporters the same, to have echoed from corner to corner of the Arab world, igniting arguments, anti-government expressions, and regime controlled voting to soothe internal and external demands for democratization. With all these issues, there stand some big questions before the United States Policy makers: Is it right for the U. S.
to exert pressure on the Arab region to restore democracy, while knowing the facts that the non liberal Islamic groups will benefit from regional democratization? According to many experts, the political parties in the region oppose the U. S. policies and moreover the entry of Shiite Muslim community in regions like Iraq, and Hamas, has unintentionally reinforced Islamist resistance actions, predominantly militant ones. Some of these liberal political parties are believed to be playing a grey role, which means that these parties posses a limited role in politics.
On the other hand, the state of affairs differs across the Arab region, and democracy endorsement is a multifaceted subject with a lot of exceptional problems, mainly while exploring Islamism. This paper looks at how United States plan to promote democracy in the region will co-ordinate with the political truth on the ground in Arab countries and lifts up the subsequent questions: Who are the Islamists? Are such groups’ rightful autonomous organizations or rebellious fundamentalists in cover? To what degree are Islamists conflicting to U. S. policy?
Should the United States take on with non violent Islamist groups, either slowly or right away? Do non-violent Islamist groups still greets or agree to conversation with the United States or would such act harm the reputation of these groups amid their followers? Is it right to legally accept these Islamic groups? Are U. S. democratization labors intended to promote options to Islamists? MOROCCO Long before the terrorist attacks on the World trade centre on September 11, Morocco was centre of focus for experts as it showed a number of positive implications for the setting up of a democratic government in the country.
Over the years, the country has shown significant improvements in this direction and introduced a number of liberal process within its system, with the help of a liberal and moderate political Islamic party – the Parti de Justice et Developement (Islamist Justice and Development Party or PJD). The party took over the parliament of Morocco after winning the elections in 1997 and 2002. The country is under the King’s rule, and the King ahs accepted some Islamic groups in the parliament that do not challenge the authority of the King. This relationship between the PJD and the Palace has at times been tough and easy.
This alliance has brought about a number of benefits in the country. This has helped the country to select path of inclusion rather than exclusion for the non liberal Islamic groups to stay away from terrorism. The proliferation of Jihadist and other terrorist groups has significantly decreased by the combined efforts of the Palace and PJD. At the same time, there also exists an economic reason to allow the Islamic groups into the political stage. Since Morocco is devoid of any kind of natural resources like oil and for trade facilities, the country heavily depends upon the help of western countries like United States and Europe.
In exchange for trade and aid, given to Morocco, U. S. has been constantly pressing it for brining in democracy in the country. Other than PJD, there are some other Islamic group that are present in the country. However, there is only one more group that has been identified as well known after PJD. A second group, known as Al-Adl wal-Ihsan or Justice and Charity (JCO), is the one which does not accepts the rule of the Palace. JCO has a wider popularity within the grassroots levels of the country while PJD is more famous in urban areas. U. S. POLICY VIS-A-VIS MOROCCO The U. S.
and Morocco relationship is multifaceted, in which promotion of democracy is the main priority for the U. S. policy makers. For long Morocco has partnered United States in promoting its democratic efforts in North Africa and other Arab countries. After the World trade center attack, the United States has taken a number of concrete steps to concrete its relationship with the country. United States under the Bush Administration has stepped up its military and financial aid, and set up a free trade agreement. Morocco is entitled for funding under the Bush Administration’s fresh foreign aid scheme, the Millennium Challenge Account.
“In calculation, Morocco has been used as a test case for the Administration’s other new reform program, the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). All told, concern that deteriorating socio-economic conditions in Morocco could lead to increased radicalism has led to a number of new activities and increased U. S. funding for education, health care, women’s rights, job creation, and structural readjustment programs, all of which have been welcomed by the Moroccan government”. (CSIS, March 2006, op. cit. )
The United States has launched several programs in which the PJD plays an active role. At the same time, the Bush Administration plays an important role in the domestic politics of the country and both the PJD and U. S. acknowledge such efforts. According to a recent pole, it was shown that the PJD was supported by 47% of the votes of the country, which signals the growing strength of the party on democratic politics. Experts also noticed that initially PLD was reluctant in responding to the U. S initiative, but slowly the party has got into terms with the United States policies in the region.
According to Condoleezza Rice, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Morocco’s PJD clearly has a legitimate role to play in Morocco’s electoral politics. I also think it is normal for the U. S. government to develop and maintain contacts with a wide variety of legitimate political actors in a country, including those that may not like some elements of U. S. foreign policy. ” (Asia Times Online, July 15, 2005) The Bush administration stresses over good and mutual relations with the PJD, rather than ignoring it. Initiating U. S.
response further in a positive direction, PJD has also shown eagerness to carry the dialogue further, and also initiated a conference in Morocco, “American Decision Making and its Impact on the Moroccan-American Relations”. When asked about the increasing role of the U. S. policy makers in Morocco, PJD spokesperson, Othmani said, “We cannot deny the role of external factors, but the reforms have not been simply imposed from outside…. The U. S. administration cannot achieve its goals at our expense, and should seek to build trust and identify common interests through a cooperative dialogue.
” (Interview with Saad Eddin Al Othmani, leader of Morocco’s Party of Justice and Development,” Arab Reform Bulletin, Published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 2005, Volume 3, Issue 10). There are some experts who believe that PJD masks its true intentions under a non violent approach. These people do not agree with the ways of the Bush Administration regarding Morocco, stating that the main goal of these Islamic groups is to finally establish a non democratic government which is based on Sharia Islamic law.
Dr. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stresses over the fact that most of the critics challenge the U. S. policy and say that the Bush Administration should be only paying attention on promoting democratic options to Islamists. U. S. policy makers on the other hand say that they are never being partial to the Islamic groups like PJD and wish to treat all the Islamic groups in the country at the same level. For its part, the Moroccan government time and again cautions the U. S.
policy makers and experts working on the region that non-violent Islamists in Morocco analyze electoral politics as a means to come to power and establish a theocracy in the country. ROLE OF CONGRESS The Congress has been encouraging of the Bush Administration’s labors to make stronger ties with Morocco. The parliament gave permission to the free trade agreement (FTA) with Morocco (P. L. 108-302) on August 17, 2004. This agreement came into effect from January 1, 2006. Also, the Congress has supported at all times, the increasing amounts of financial aid to Morocco.
This aid helps the nation fight the increasing threats of terrorism, and other social threats that tend to demoralize the efforts. During the Financial year, 2006, the state of Morocco received $10. 890 million as Economic Support Funds (ESF), $12. 375 million for Foreign Military Financing (FMF), $8. 217 million in Development Assistance (DA), and $1. 856 million for International Military Education and Training (IMET). For FY2007, the Administration has requested $18 million in ESF, $12. 5 million in FMF, $5. 4 million for DA, and $1.
975 million for IMET. (CRS Report RL33003, Egypt: Background and U. S. Relations, by Jeremy M. Sharp. ) EGYPT The prospect that the non liberal Islamic groups pose for United States is much more important with regards to the United States and Egypt relationship than the Morocco association. The Government of Egypt is at peace with the state of Israel since 1979, and is am important strategic partner for the United States in the region. Egypt has received the largest amounts of funds from United States amongst the Arab countries until U. S. invaded Iraq.
Egypt has been closely interacting with the Bush Administration on various issues like military, foreign developments, and terrorism issues that pose threat in the region. Egyptian President Mubarak has shaped himself as a consistent and trust worthy interlocutor in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Some political experts consider that Egypt’s deliberate significance has augmented in view of the fact that the Hamas had risen to power in 2006, and as it is obvious that countries like Egypt, Israel, and the United States all share a universal significance in restraining Hamas.
On the other hand, the Egyptian administration has been suspicious of U. S. ways for political restructuring because the Egyptian Administration does not wants the uprising of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which is the most powerful opposition group in Egypt and opposes the United States policies. U. S. POLICY VIS-A-VIS EGYPT U. S. policy makers have used a number of political and diplomatic tools to move forward with the reforms in Egypt. U. S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had recently made a number of visits to the country and has been verbal concerning the call for improvement at the American University in Cairo and at the same time also held meetings with political activists. The United States also has expanded its foreign aid and democracy programming activities in Egypt. In 2005, the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) commenced allocating small grants directly to NGOs in Egypt so as give support to the secular political activists and human rights groups, particularly during the presidential and parliamentary election seasons.
The United States compliments the Egyptian government’s wishes not to permit illegitimate Islamist association, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, to publicly take part in U. S supported improvement actions in Egypt or contain widespread associates with U. S. representatives in Cairo. According to the U. S. Foreign Department in Egypt, it will not deal straight with the illegal associations, since they are banned under Egyptian law, but the members of these groups are not barred from meetings between U. S. officials. According to J.
Scott Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs at the U. S. State Department, “There is recognition that there are a number of folks who have been elected to Parliament, and they are there. This is an issue for Egyptian society to deal with it, it’s not something for us necessarily to involve ourselves with. ” At the end, while many of the experts promote the policies laid down by the Bush Administration for Egypt, some of them advise a restrain since the Egyptian authorities have themselves forced the U. S.
to select between the national Democratic Party and the Muslim brotherhood. Thus, the solution to this issue is that the U. S. should force the Egyptian government to give some space for talks between the Islamists and secularists. Such a conversation among Egyptians themselves is where solutions lie. ROLE OF CONGRESS The congress provides adequate funds to Egypt for the various reforms which promote democracy I n some way or the other. Some of the programs are – partnership initiatives, which call for a combined effort of the U. S and the Egypt on this issue.
Other programs include the up-lift of the society, promoting small independent enterprises within the community, education, women’s rights and increased political rights. Meantime, the U. S. has set up a committee which looks that the allocation of funds is occurring in the right direction. In discussion statement speech associated with P. L. 108-447, the financial year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act, specified that the money that is supposed to be spent on democracy and governance activities is not subjected to any kind of prior approval by the government of Egypt.
In addition, the statement predetermined that not less than 50 percent of the funds that are allocated for the restoration of democracy in the country, are allocated to NGO’s so that the civil structure of the country gets strengthened thereby increasing more civil participation in the political and electoral process of the country. CONCLUSION The democratic elections that were performed under the pressure exerted by United States in Iraq, Egypt, Morocco and Palestine, have resulted in opposite actions by strengthening the political positions of the Islamic groups that are refusing to shed violence and anti U.
S. Policies. Moreover the participation of some liberal Islamic groups in these democratic elections by the permission of the U. S. Policy makers raises the question that whether these groups are actually liberal or fundamentals? Is it in the favor of Unites States to allow these Islamic groups to be a part of the elections? What reaction will the followers of these liberal Islamic groups show after they see that the group is welcoming dialogues with Unites States? While experts are keenly looking over the whole matter, and in which direction the U. S.
policy should head, Condoleezza Rice is trying to be more transparent in relations with the Islamic groups in the region. The Bush Administration is taking keen interest in the allocation of funds to the groups that are distributed for the promotion of democracy programs and is hoping that the situation gets better for United States.
1. Wiktorowicz, Quintan, Islamic Activism, A Social Movement Theory Approach, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004, p. 25. 2. U. S. State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism and Patters of Global Terrorism 2005. Available at [http://www. state.gov/documents/organization/65472. pdf]. 3. Martin Kramer, “Islam vs. Democracy,” Commentary, January 1993, pp. 35-42. 4. “Should the United States Support Islamists? ” Program Brief, Nixon Center, October 24, 2005. 5. The Mideast, the Third Way is a Myth,” Washington Post, February 17, 2006. 6. “Islamists at the Ballot Box, Findings from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Turkey,” Judy Barsalou, U. S. Institute for Peace Special Report 144, July 2005. 7. In Support of Arab Democracy: Why and How,” Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force Report No. 54, Madeline K. Albright and Vin Weber Co-Chairs, 2005.