The Arab Spring after Two Years: Prospects for Democracy in the Gulf States

February 13, 2013
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

Opening Remarks from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

A half-day conference sponsored by the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy and the Project on Middle East Democracy

Conference Agenda:

Introductory Remarks
Chair: Carl Gershman, National Endowment for Democracy
Congressman James McGovern, U.S. House of Representatives

The Future of Reform in the Gulf
Chair: Tamara Cofman Wittes, Brookings Institution
Ambassador Richard LeBaron, Atlantic Council
Jafar Alshayeb, Qatif Municipal Council, Saudi Arabia Gulf Civil Society
Laith Kubba, National Endowment for Democracy

The Crisis in Bahrain: Is a Negotiated Solution Possible?
Chair: Stephen McInerney, Project on Middle East Democracy
Tom Malinowski, Human Rights Watch
Khalil Al-Marzooq, Al-Wefaq Political Society
Jalila Al-Salman, Teachers’ Union in Bahrain

About the Speakers

Khalil Al-Marzooq is the assistant secretary general assistant for international and political affairs of the Al-Wefaq Political Society in Bahrain. He served as the first deputy speaker of the Bahraini parliament before he resigned with his colleagues in February 2011 to protest the government’s actions against peaceful protests. Mr. Al-Marzooq has spent his career defending human rights and promoting the rule of law.

Jalila Al-Salman is a Bahraini teacher and the vice president of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA). She was arrested in March and April 2011 in connection with the BTA’s calls for strikes amid the protests at that time demanding reforms in Bahrain’s educational system and protesting the killing and suppression of protesters, of which students made a high percentage. She was imprisoned for 149 days, allegedly tortured, and sentenced to 3 years in prison by a military court. She was released 5 months later after she was forced to sign false confessions.

Jafar Alshayeb is a writer, human rights advocate, and member of the Qatif Municipal Council in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. He is a regular commentator and analyst of local politics and reform issues in many press and media channels and is a columnist for Alsharq newspaper.

Carl Gershman is the president of the National Endowment for Democracy. In addition to presiding over the NED’s grants program in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America, he has overseen the creation of the quarterly Journal of Democracy, International Forum for Democratic Studies, and the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program. He also took the lead in launching in New Delhi in 1999 the World Movement for Democracy, which is a global network of democracy practitioners and scholars.

Richard LeBaron is visiting senior fellow with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council of the United States and will be working on the Gulf  region and leading a joint Hariri Center-Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security Initiative, “A Strategic Dialogue for a New US-Gulf Partnership.”

Laith Kubba is senior director for Middle East and North Africa programs at the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2005, he served as a senior advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and as a spokesman for the Iraqi government. He was formerly director of international relations at the Al-Khoei Foundation in London, a global charity and faith-based endowment, and founded the International Forum for Islamic Dialogue, a London-based network of liberal Muslim activists and intellectuals.

Tom Malinowski is the Washington director for Human Rights Watch, where he is responsible for the organization’s overall advocacy efforts with the U.S. government. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Mr. Malinowski was special assistant to President Bill Clinton and senior director for foreign policy speechwriting at the National Security Council.

Congressman James McGovern is a Democrat who has represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996. Congressman McGovern has been widely recognized as a tenacious advocate for his district, a tireless crusader for change, and an unrivaled supporter for social justice and fundamental human rights. Mr. McGovern serves as the second ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee and is co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Stephen McInerney is the executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), where he previously served as its director of advocacy. His writing on Middle Eastern politics and U.S. foreign policy has been published by the Arab Reform Bulletin, The Daily Star, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, and The Washington Post. He has spoken on Middle East affairs with numerous media outlets including BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and CBS News.

Tamara Cofman Wittes is a senior fellow and the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Ms. Wittes served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from November of 2009 to January 2012, coordinating U.S. policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East for the State Department. She also oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative and served as deputy special coordinator for Middle East transitions. She was central to organizing the U.S. government’s response to the Arab awakening.