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Reform is a politically charged issue in the Middle East. Governments admit change is necessary, but do not want to surrender power. Opposition groups want democracy but cannot generate sufficient momentum. The Bush administration's "freedom agenda" has brought the issue into focus but blurred the distinction between democracy promotion and forceful regime change.
Some governments have taken steps toward political reform. Are these meaningful changes or empty attempts to pacify domestic and international public opinion? How do we distinguish reforms that alter the character of the political system from those that are only window dressing?
Beyond the Façade: Political Reform in the Arab World evaluates the changes that are taking place in the region and explores the potential for further reform. The essays provide careful, detailed examinations of ten countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen), highlighting the diversity of processes and problems. Beyond the Façade forces us to recognize the reality of conflicting interests and the limitations of external actors to bring about political reform, while drawing lessons on how to make international democracy promotion more effective.
Contributors include Nathan Brown (George Washington University), Michele Dunne (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace),Amr Hamzawy (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), Ellen Lust-Okar (Yale University), Sarah Phillips (National Democratic Institute,Yemen), Meredith Riley (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Hugh Roberts (freelance writer and consultant), and Paul Salem (Carnegie Middle East Center).