MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
In most countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), prospects for democratic progress and reform remained challenged by mounting turmoil, conflict, and terrorism. The need for security and stability dominated, sidelining discussions and efforts for political reform or liberalization in almost every country. Despite instability and increasingly repressive environments, civil society throughout MENA continued to demonstrate a resounding resilience and commitment to reform.
Afghanistan and Iraq remained high NED priorities as international support to civil society in those countries continued to diminish. NED supported groups working for reform and challenging the idea that security and democracy work at counter purposes. In countries with a degree of civic space and an established civil society such as Morocco and Tunisia, NED supported broad-based advocacy and accountability efforts, independent media, and efforts to strengthen civil society as a whole. Despite the rollback of democratic reforms in Turkey, NED supported independent media and accountability initiatives to guard against further backsliding. As violent conflicts progressed in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, NED prioritized keeping democracy from being
subsumed by other priorities. In those contexts, NED emphasized efforts to expand independent voices, represent critical constituencies for change, and strengthen emerging generations of civil and political leaders. In Algeria, Egypt, the Gulf States, and Iran where civil society is constrained, the Endowment offered a lifeline to civic actors promoting democratic ideas and values, expanding the space for dialogue and exchange, and serving as watchdogs in critical sectors such as labor and human rights. Where political environments limited civil society’s ability to have much direct political influence, such as Jordan, Mauritania, and the West Bank and Gaza, NED support positioned civil society partners to respond constructively when greater engagement is possible.
In addition, NED’s MENA regional programs strengthened emerging networks and built sectoral expertise in various democracy-related issues across the region, expanded support to buttress democratic gains, including Tunisia’s transition, promoted dialogue, pluralism, and building bridges among communities threatened by divisions, supported human rights defenders, and addressed systemic good governance failures and weak local and national institutions.
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