Project on Middle East Democracy
|Focus||Supporting democratic reform in the Middle East and North Africa.|
|Method||Research, dialogue, and advocacy|
|Key people||Stephen McInerney (Executive Director)|
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (January 2012)|
||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (January 2012)|
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C. dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the United States can best support that process. Through dialogue, research, and advocacy, POMED works to strengthen the constituency for U.S. policies that peacefully support democratic reform in the Middle East.
- Democracy is an inalienable right. Every political community has the right to govern itself democratically through free, fair and open processes and institutions.
- Democracy functions differently in every country in which it is practiced. This diversity is a central reason why democracy is a universal value and can be adopted successfully by any society. Each country’s citizens, through deliberative processes, have the right to determine the specific nature of their democracy.
- America’s fundamental values call for the U.S. to support democracy. America was founded on the principles of democratic governance and freedom of expression, yet its policy towards the Middle East has often sacrificed democracy at the altar of other interests. To be true to its basic principles, America must consistently and credibly support democracy abroad.
- Supporting democracy in the Middle East is in America’s long-term interest. Continued support for the Middle East’s authoritarian status quo will jeopardize American national security and economic interests. While genuinely promoting democracy requires the courage to bear short-term risks, free and open political processes will ultimately reduce incentives to resort to violence.
- The U.S. cannot be neutral on democracy in the Middle East. The billions of dollars the U.S. provides to Middle Eastern governments each year in economic aid and military assistance reflect America’s substantial and enduring interests in the region and preclude any pretense of neutrality on democracy. The U.S. must carefully examine the consequences of its actions on political reform.
- The U.S. has the potential to make a positive impact on democratization in the Middle East. America has a credibility gap on democracy because it often tolerates authoritarian behavior by friendly regimes while calling for democracy and regime change in unfriendly ones. By consistently supporting democracy, America will begin to overcome this legacy and repair its credibility gap.
- The U.S. must respect democratic outcomes. In the short term, free and fair elections may result in some governments that are less favorable to U.S. interests. Regardless, America must respect democratic processes. The long-term benefits of improved credibility and democracy outweigh the short-term costs.
- Democracy cannot be imposed. Engagement through peaceful means, such as dialogue and diplomacy, is the only legitimate and effective way to promote democracy in the region. The U.S. can and will help but, ultimately, stable and secure democracies in the Middle East can only be built from within.
Through Research, Dialogue, Advocacy, and Civil Society Partnerships, POMED works to strengthen support for genuine democratic development in the Middle East and North Africa.
Dialogue: POMED fosters dialogue between and among Americans and Middle Easterners by conducting panel discussions, working groups, and roundtables in Washington and elsewhere that bring together local and regional experts, as well as organizing conferences in the Middle East on political reform and U.S. policy.
Research: POMED supports innovative research driven by rigorous analysis and actionable policy options in a wide array of publications. The mission is to educate and inform policy makers and the public on how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East, and how the U.S. can best support that process. 
Advocacy: POMED supports a consistent and credible pro-democracy foreign policy toward the Middle East by organizing informational briefings and events for members of Congress and their staff; discussing U.S. policy with lawmakers and executive branch officials; bringing key voices from the Middle East to Washington to engage directly with policymakers and media; and empowering the diverse coalition of actors who share our principles.
Civil Society Partnerships: POMED collaborates with NGOs in the region to build the capacity and increase the impact of regional think tanks and advocacy organizations. In a healthy democracy, advocacy organizations and think tanks serve as critical links between government and engaged citizens. Building off its own experiences, POMED guides and mentors its partners in producing policy analysis and developing policy recommendations for their national policymakers, mirroring the role played by POMED in Washington.
The Project on Middle East Democracy consists of an ideologically diverse staff brought together by a shared desire for change in American foreign policy in order to facilitate the growth of democracy in the Middle East. POMED was formed by young professionals and practitioners with a wide range of professional backgrounds, including policy advocacy, legislative research, political campaigning, and international nonprofit work.
- Stephen McInerney, Executive Director
- Cole Bockenfeld, Director of Advocacy
- Susannah Cunningham, Director of Development and Communications
- Nada Zohdy, Civil Society Partnerships Coordinator
- Todd Ruffner, Advocacy Associate
- Alex Russell, Dialogue Program Associate
- Daniel Tavana, Research Associate
- Sally Roshdy, Visiting Fellow
Board of Advisors
- Nathan Brown, Director, Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University
- Daniel Brumberg, Associate Professor of Government and Co-Director of Democracy and Governance Studies, Georgetown University
- Thomas Carothers, Vice President of Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Wendy Chamberlin, President, Middle East Institute
- Lorne W. Craner, President, International Republican Institute
- Larry Diamond, Director, Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law, Stanford University
- Michele Dunne, Editor, Arab Reform Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Haleh Esfandiari, Director, Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
- Noah Feldman, Professor of Law, Harvard University and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
- Mary Gray, Chair, Board of Directors, Amideast
- Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Founder, Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, exiled Egyptian human rights activist
- Jim Kolbe, Former Congressman (R-AZ)
- Jim Moody, Former Congressman (D-WI)
- Mark Palmer, Vice President, Council for a Community of Democracies
- Kenneth Wollack, President, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
- "Perceptions of U.S. Democracy: Middle Eastern and American Views" David DeBartolo, May 2008
- "The President's Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2009: Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights in the Middle East" Stephen McInerney, May 2008
- "Religion and State Relationships: A Middle East, U.S., and E.U. 'Trialogue'" David M. DeBartolo and Amanda Kadlec, December 2008
- "Speaking Clearly: What Should President Obama Say to the Middle East?" Stephen McInerney, ed., January 2009
- "Looking Forward: An Integrated Strategy for Supporting Democracy and Human Rights in Egypt" Gregory L. Aftandilian, May 2009
- "The Federal Budget and Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010:Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights in the Middle East" Stephen McInerney, July 2009
- "Strategies for Engaging Political Islam" Shadi Hamid and Amanda Kadlec, January 2010
- "After Cairo: From the Vision of the Cairo Speech to Active Support for Human Dignity" Edited by Andrew Albertson, Barak Hoffman, and Tuqa Nusairat, January 2010
- "For the Common Good: Revitalizing Mutilateral Cooperation for Political Reform in the Middle East" Tuqa Nusairat, June 2010
- "Assessing the Pre-election Political Environment in Egypt" Stephen McInerney, April 2011
- "The Federal Budget and Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012: Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights in the Middle East" Stephen McInerney, July 2011
- "A Guide to the Tunisian Elections" Daphne McCurdy, October 2011
- "Summary and Highlights of the FY12 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bills" Cole Bockenfeld, October 2011
- Project on Middle East Democracy (official website)