The U.S. "Greater Middle East" Initiative: Going Native?

(Access/Middle East) Israel Altman - Washington's "Greater Middle East" (GME) initiative for reform in the Arab world, due to be formally introduced in June, has already generated negative reactions. The introduction of liberal democracy is just not possible in societies where political Islam is the dominant ideology. The beneficiaries of "liberalization without secularization" are likely to be parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, forces far removed from the vision of GME. Nevertheless, the U.S. administration may well consider the initiative's impact thus far as a moderate success, as the GME is prodding Arab governments to develop plans for reform. The Arab governments' claim - that as long as the Palestinian problem has not been solved GME cannot be adopted - is a ruse. Why should improvement of the status of women in Arab societies, for example, be held hostage to the Palestinian problem? The writer is the director of studies at the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

2004-03-12 00:00:00

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