Friday, May 18, 2007

CLIME - The Centre for Liberty in the Middle East

The Centre for Liberty in the Middle East (CLIME), firstly let me say wow. What a catchy name, it's got all the keywords that would leave the average International Relations groupie drooling, hoping for the chance to prove themselves as an intern or at least for that name on their CV.

The Center for Liberty in the Middle East (CLIME) is a transatlantic initiative to support liberal democrats in the Middle East – politicians, civil society leaders, women’s rights activists, journalists and dissidents – by increasing their visibility through a variety of activities including an Arabic-English guide to liberal democrats in the region, publications, conferences, speaking tours, and advocacy training and support services.

Interesting choice, "liberal democrats" in the region, it's got two fuzzy words which couldn't possibly be bad right? Especially compared to the joke which we call governments in our part of the world. Also, who are these high minded and altruistic individuals associating themselves with such a worthy cause? The slick site presents the user with numerous papers presented by the team in PDF format. One such paper by a Samer Abu Libdeh - a Jordanian journalist - presented as a "senior fellow" in CLIME, begins quite worryingly as follows:

The Bush Administration has made the promotion of liberal democracy and the empowerment of reformists and democrats a cornerstone of its Middle East policy. But if there has been anything consistent about the implementation of this “Forward Strategy of Freedom,” it has been its inconsistency.

Now clearly Mr Abu Libdeh seems to think the Bush administration really does plan to promote "liberal democracy" in the region. He berates them (puppets are permitted a limited amount of criticism) but for being inconsistent in pursuing this goal. Clearly the idea that this policy is just a facade has not crossed the sharp mind of Abu Libdeh yet. Also, I like this new term he refers to of "Forward Strategy of Freedom". Iraq is now at the forefront of this Forward Strategy of Freedom and the results, I must concede, look astounding. The rest of the paper is an assorted array of drivel about the "situation" in Jordan and ultimately leaves the choice for young Arabs between the corrupt mafia's which rule them or violent Islamic fundamentalism, how bleak..

Another contributer, Tony Badran, is author of The Syria Monitor and Beirut to the Bayside and claims to be concerned with the plight of imprisoned dissidents in Syria such as Bunni, Isa and Kilo. There are allegations he has some form of association with a right wing ultra nationalist Christian militia in Lebanon by the name of The Guardians of the Cedars which allegedly had a slogan "It is the duty of every Lebanese to kill a Palestinian". I haven't been able to find anything conclusive yet apart from allegations however it makes one wonder what type of organisation would allow such a person to be a "Research Fellow". This brings us to the nature of CLIME itself, what is it?

CLIME is a joint project of the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD), based in Brussels, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), based in Washington, D.C. We fund our activities through individual donations, foundation grants and government grants for democracy promotion.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies? This gets interesting, they are allegedly "...the only nonpartisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism. " But is that the whole story? An interesting expose on the group from the Right Web site describes them as a prominent member of a group of neo-conservative think tanks such as Freedom House, Hudson Institute and American Enterprise Institute. This is not starting to look good at all is it? Who are these individuals who find it important for them to fund some groups, why is the U.S. government amongst others funding them? I think the Right Web site has done more research than I could and it is interesting to see what they come up with. Finally, the Foundation claims to stand for the following:

• Terrorism—intentional violence directed against non-combatants to achieve a political objective—is always wrong and should never be condoned.

• Democratic societies have a right to defend themselves against terrorism and an obligation to defend one another.

• No one should be denied basic human rights—including minority rights, women's rights and the freedom to worship.

Amazing, and nobody in their right minds would disagree, yet the reality on the ground for anybody with a modicum of understanding of politics and the history of these organisations, their members, and the countries they represent would laugh out loud at the hypocrisy. So much for a "Centre for Liberty in the Middle East". There is a battle for the disenchanted and legitimate dissidents in the Middle East. Disillusioned with their governments, put off by fundamentalist Wahhabi movements and with nowhere to go, the battle of such organisations is to win the hearts and minds of the people in the region into their own interpretation of the events, history and politics of the region. They present the two alternatives for Arabs and Muslims as Western style modernism and fundamentalist fanatical Islamic movements. This is not the case. There is indeed a genuine multi-faceted Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern outlook emerging which rejects such crude attempts of social influence, rejects occupation and recognises who the enemies of their countries truly are. Whether they are going to be strong enough to stem this tide of money, arms and media is yet to be seen, but they crucially must become self aware of their own capabilities and begin to articulate their confident vision of themselves and for the future. It is these around whom others who are unsure about all this will gravitate and learn from should they succeed.


Unknown said...

which allegedly had a slogan "It is the duty of every Lebanese to kill a Palestinian".
who gave you this information?

You're attempt to dissect this organization is important. But don't you think that you are also not giving them the benefit of the doubt? I'm not here to defend anyone, but what if they were really a group of Arab intellectuals that are trying to make a difference? Why should we always assume they are hypocrites? because they are not chanting ANTI U.S. slogans? isn't it time we get over that?
As Arabs, how else would we peacefully promote the idea of "Liberty"?

"There is indeed a genuine multi-faceted Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern outlook emerging which rejects such crude attempts of social influence, rejects occupation and recognizes who the enemies of their countries truly are" I'm not sure what you mean by this? who r u talking about?

"It is these around whom others who are unsure about all this will gravitate and learn from should they succeed."
I also don't understand this part.

(Note: You have a link that says: "Syria's Golan Heights-40 years under Illegal Israeli Occupation" I clicked on the link out of curiosity, but it doesn't work. Anyway, the link should read: Syria's Golan Heights- SOLD 40 Years ago by the Asad's to Isreal" Asad's brother (i forget his name) SOLD the Golan Heights. Every one knows that. We should start calling things as they are. Maybe the Syrian people who are TRUELY bothered by this should go to Marbella (where he resides) and ask HIM to get the Golan back... or at least to return the HUGE fortune he made back to the Syrian people.)

So you see my friend, if we had true LIBERTY no one in Syria will be AFRAID to address this issue with the govt. But we don't. Therefore, you will find these "Liberty" advocates popping up everywhere, and creating organizations, hoping they can protect people like Micheal Kilo and anyone who DARES to speak against the Syrian govt. (for example)

I'm not saying that all organizations that claim this are the answer to our prayers, but there are always steps to be made in order to achieve freedom. You have to start somewhere.

Maysaloon said...

Hi Dania,
I have no idea how you found this post as it's been such a long time! Anyhow,I like to think of myself as keeping an open mind an almost anything ;) but when reading about that particular organisation I actually found they weren't what they said they are. One of the thing which constantly tires me is the complexity of lies we find ourselves wrapped in. Whether from religioius, secular, domestic or foreign directions. When it comes to things such as "Liberty" and so on, what are we really asking for? I have a feeling we are asking the wrong questions sometimes and maybe that's why people like myself end up being disillusioned with everything.

As for those people, well, you know..they're just some people I see or read here and there ;) I hope to hear from you again!