Just a reminder: on Monday, September 22, the Institute for Middle East Studies at GWU and the Project on Middle East Democracy are hosting a discussion between myself and the leading Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim on the "U.S. impact on reform in a changing Middle East." My remarks about democracy in Egypt at the Cannon House Office Building last week began with this reflection:
I would like to begin on December 6, 2003, when I watched a remarkable debate on al-Jazeera between two of the intellectual heavyweights of the Arab world about the American role in promoting democracy. Fahmy Howeydi, an influential moderate Islamist, argued that the United States could not play a role in helping Arab democracy activists because real Arab democracy would always contradict its interests. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the leading Arab democracy activist, responded that Arabs had no choice but to try, because only the United States had the power to make a difference. Today, Howeydi continues to sit in Cairo writing acerbic essays criticizing American foreign policy and the failures of Arab governments. Saad Eddin Ibrahim is a dissident in exile, hounded from his home country after being convicted in absentia of “harming Egypt’s reputation”. The great Arab debate about America’s promotion of democracy, such as it was, has seemingly been resolved in favor of the skeptics.
In that setting, I primarly focused on Egypt's domestic political developments and only spoke briefly about American policy options. I plan to say more about the latter on Monday. But the real attraction will be Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who has dedicated his life to these struggles and knows more than anyone the costs and the opportunities of American attempts to promote reform in the Arab world. I am excited about the chance to have a public dialogue with him on these issues, and hope to see many DC-based readers there.
Please RSVP by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org. Relevant details:
Elliott Room 310, The Cloyd Heck Marvin Center
George Washington University
800 21st Street NW