For Immediate Release, December 13, 2011

Contact: Allison Sturma, 202-429-4725

(Washington) – Experts from the United States Institute of Peace, who have been working in the field  throughout the Middle East and North Africa in the last year, are available for comment on the progress of the Arab Awakening  and what still needs to happen to ensure stability in the region.

Manal Omar, director of Iraq, Iran, and North Africa programs, recently returned from the region, commented:

“The one year anniversary of the Arab Spring is a crucial time to pause and remember the initial motivation behind the protests: the call for freedom, dignity, and access to better opportunity. The movement has reminded the world of the power of the people, which has led to elections in Tunisia and Egypt, the signing of an agreement in Yemen, and a transitional government on Libya. 

“The true challenge moving forward will be to keep ensuring a participatory approach that leads to true change, and not recreating the system they fought hard to replace. Most important is creating safeguards to ensure the initial voices, such as youth and women, are not drowned out moving forward.”

Omar can be reached for additional comment at 202-429-1981 or momar@usip.org.

Senior Fellow Robin Wright stressed the importance of the youth movement in maintaining the call for change, stating:

“Youth reflected the four reasons that the Arab Spring became the perfect political storm: The young were the overwhelming majority, were literate, had new tools of technology, and were willing to unleash their fury at both autocrats and extremists robbing them of a future.”

Wright can be reached for additional comment at 202-429-3879 (office), 202-320- 0888 (cell), or wrightrb@gmail.com

Having just completed a trip to Yemen, Colette Rausch, director of the Rule of Law Center of Innovation at USIP, reflected that:

“What we are seeing around the world is people’s demand for a voice in decisions that affect their lives and for a society that provides justice, security, and accountability for everyone – in in other words, a society that abides by the rule of law. In the eyes of those who protest against unaccountable leaders, corrupt judges, and heavy handed security forces, the uprisings around the region are calling for their countries to embrace the essence of the rule of law and for citizens to have a voice in the process of reform and change.” 

Rausch is available for additional comments at 202-429-3860 or crausch@usip.org

 As international attention remains focused on Syria, Senior Adviser for Middle East Initiatives Steven Heydemann commented that:

“Conditions in Syria are deteriorating.  Protests continue despite a significant uptick in regime violence, with the death toll among the opposition climbing above 5,000.  Yet the militarization and sectarianization of the uprising continue, and Syrians are under growing economic strains as winter sets in.   None of the diplomatic efforts of Turkey, the Arab world, or the West, has forced the Syrian regime to cease its violence against the Syrian population.  The reality is sinking in that the road to regime change in Syria will be very long and, in all probability, increasingly violent."

Heydemann can be reached for additional comment at sheydemann@usip.org.

###

The United States Institute of Peace is the independent, nonpartisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence. USIP works to save lives, increase the government’s ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs, and enhance national security. USIP is headquartered in Washington, DC. To learn more visit www.usip.org.

 

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