The Bush administration’s active promotion of democracy and freedom in the Middle East reflects a core component of Washington’s new approach to the region. In the post-9/11 environment, domestic developments within Arab countries are a security concern for the United States. New awareness of the nexus between U.S. national security interests and the desire of many Arabs, if not their leaders, for political liberalization and economic reform has opened a window of opportunity for U.S. policy. While there is no doubt that internal political dynamics are creating pressure for change, the United States is also shaping events in the Middle East. The invasion of Iraq, demands for reform of Palestinian political institutions, calls for democracy in Egypt, and support for the Lebanese opposition have helped create momentum for change throughout the Arab world.
In this timely report, a bipartisan group of experts examines the political, social, and economic dynamics of the Arab Middle East. They evaluate the effectiveness of current U.S. efforts to advance political and economic liberalization in the region; and they make a series of recommendations to U.S. policymakers on how best to support the change underway.