Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

Guest Post: Support Process Over Personalities in Pakistan

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman Wednesday, February 27, 2013
mran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is surrounded with supporters as he leads a peace march against U.S. drone strikes from Islamabad to South Waziristan, in Mianwali on October 6, 2012 (Ahsan Baloch/Courtesy Reuters). Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is surrounded with supporters as he leads a peace march against U.S. drone strikes from Islamabad to South Waziristan, in Mianwali on October 6, 2012 (Ahsan Baloch/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday, my colleague Dan Markey published a compelling new CFR Policy Innovation Memorandum (PIM), Support Process Over Personalities in Pakistan. In it, he argues that the United States should avoid playing favorites as Pakistani leadership transitions unfold over the course of 2013, starting with parliamentary elections later this spring. I’ve asked him to write a guest post about the PIM. Read more »

The Chicken and Egg of Skills and Jobs in the Arab World

by Isobel Coleman Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Unemployed Tunisian graduate Salah al Massowiri holds up his diploma at their home in Cite El Boua, in the central province of Sidi Bouzid on May 26, 2012 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters). Unemployed Tunisian graduate Salah al Massowiri holds up his diploma at their home in Cite El Boua, in the central province of Sidi Bouzid on May 26, 2012 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters).

A new report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)—Rethinking Economic Growth: Towards Productive and Inclusive Arab Societies—examines employment issues, the relative lack of dynamic private sectors, broken social contracts, and more in the Arab world. Read more »

Fawzia Koofi: A Leader for Afghanistan

by Isobel Coleman Thursday, February 14, 2013
Fawzia Koofi speaks during an interview in Kabul on April 12, 2012 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters). Fawzia Koofi speaks during an interview in Kabul on April 12, 2012 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters).

This week, I had the pleasure of hosting courageous Fawzia Koofi at the Council on Foreign Relations. Koofi is one of sixty-nine female members of Afghanistan’s 249-seat lower house of parliament. As she likes to note, she was elected to her seat by beating out a male candidate–above and beyond the quota system that preserves 25 percent of parliament for women. Elected as parliament’s first female deputy speaker, she plans to run for president in the 2014 elections. Read more »

Thoughts on the State of the Union Address

by Isobel Coleman Wednesday, February 13, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 12, 2013 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 12, 2013 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

Last night’s State of the Union address by President Obama was predictably light on foreign policy. His focus is appropriately on reinvigorating the economy and tackling a myriad of domestic challenges. Nevertheless, the world remains a dangerous place, yet Obama offered few new insights on dealing with emerging crises in the Middle East and Asia. His most ambitious foreign policy announcement was the pursuit of a free trade agreement with Europe. As I write today on CNN.com: Read more »

Looking to the Developing World for a Pope

by Isobel Coleman Tuesday, February 12, 2013
A man walks outside the Cathedral of St. Paul of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast on February 11, 2013 (Thierry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters). A man walks outside the Cathedral of St. Paul of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast on February 11, 2013 (Thierry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters).

Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is a surprisingly bold move from someone not known as a modernizer. But his recognition that he was no longer up to the challenges of the Catholic Church was a thoroughly modern leadership move—and one that other aging leaders would do well to emulate. The fact that he’s the first pope in nearly 600 years to avail himself of retirement (the last one to resign, Pope Gregory XII, did so in 1415 to end a schism in the Church) is—to say the least—historic. Read more »

Guest Post: Revolution Reloaded in Tunisia

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman Thursday, February 7, 2013
Tunisian protesters clash with riot police during a demonstration after the death of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, outside the Interior Ministry in Tunis on February 6, 2013 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters). Tunisian protesters clash with riot police during a demonstration after the death of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, outside the Interior Ministry in Tunis on February 6, 2013 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters).

Tunisian opposition political leader Chokri Belaid was assassinated outside his home on Wednesday, a day after he warned about the possibility of political violence in Tunisia. This violent turn marks an inflection point for the country’s shaky transition: will the government be willing and able to establish law and order in a way that protects dissenting political speech, or will political violence spiral out of control? Political violence also stands to undermine Egypt’s transition. Today, the Associated Press reports that Egypt’s government is providing enhanced security in opposition leaders’ neighborhoods “after several hardline Muslim clerics issued religious edicts calling for them to be killed.” For an on-the-ground perspective, I’ve asked Zied Mhirsi, one of Tunisia’s most popular bloggers, an ardent advocate of freedom, and a cofounder of the website Tunisia Live, to write a guest post.  Read more »

Malala Yousafzai and Girls’ Education in Pakistan

by Isobel Coleman Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai (C) waves with nurses as she is discharged from The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in this handout photograph released on January 4, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai (C) waves with nurses as she is discharged from The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in this handout photograph released on January 4, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday, people around the world watched in admiration and awe a clip from an interview with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for girls’ education. “I want every girl, every child to be educated,” she said bravely in comments given before she had surgery at a hospital in England–apparently, she is now recovering well–and discussed the new Malala Fund to do just that. The fund’s inaugural grant will help girls from the Swat Valley, where Malala is from, receive an education instead of entering the workforce prematurely. Read more »