Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

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

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Education and Egypt’s New Constitution

by Isobel Coleman
An Egyptian soldier opens a box of ballots before officials count them after polls closed during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo, Egypt, January 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). An Egyptian soldier opens a box of ballots before officials count them after polls closed during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo, Egypt, January 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

Last week, Egyptians approved a new constitution with a Mubarak-like 98 percent yes-vote in a referendum.  Many observers have been critical of the constitution, noting that it gives unprecedented powers to the military and fails to protect important human rights. Others, however, see it as cause for celebration, citing the document’s provisions on gender equality, religious freedom, and secularism as important steps forward.  A relatively low voter turnout of less than 40 percent combined with ongoing deep divisions in society over several constitutional clauses make it unclear how effectively the new constitution will be implemented or how long it will last.  But one element of the constitution should have the strong backing of all Egyptians – the little-noticed new provisions on education. Read more »

Tunisia Update: What to Expect from the New Constitution

by Isobel Coleman
A Tunisian boy waves a flag during a rally in Tunis marking the third anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, December 17, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi). A Tunisian boy waves a flag during a rally in Tunis marking the third anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, December 17, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi).

This week, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) is voting on a new constitution. Two-thirds of the articles have already passed, and the approval process should be done by next week. Read more »

Egypt’s New Constitution, Again

by Isobel Coleman
Members of Egypt's constitutional assembly finish their vote during the closing session at the Shura Council in Cairo, Egypt, December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Members of Egypt's constitutional assembly finish their vote during the closing session at the Shura Council in Cairo, Egypt, December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Earlier today, Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour received a final draft of the country’s new constitution from the committee tasked with making revisions to the one approved just a year ago. Read more »

Egypt: Another Step Backward on Civil Society

by Isobel Coleman
Egyptian soldiers stand guard near Rabaa al-Adawiya square during a protest by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo, Egypt, October 4, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh). Egyptian soldiers stand guard near Rabaa al-Adawiya square during a protest by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo, Egypt, October 4, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh).

Last month, Egypt’s interim ministry of justice proposed a law that would severely restrict Egyptians’ right to protest and assemble. If signed into law, the drafted legislation would give authorities the ability to cancel and violently crackdown on demonstrations without clear reason or warning. Read more »

Why There Is “No Exit from Pakistan”

by Isobel Coleman
The Pakistan-Afghanistan border, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Naseer Ahmed). The Pakistan-Afghanistan border, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Naseer Ahmed).

Last week, my colleague Daniel Markey published his latest book: No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad. The book is a timely, if sober, reminder that Pakistan is too big and too messy to fix, yet too strategic to ignore, much as some U.S. policymakers would like to. Read more »

Quotas and Women in Egyptian Politics

by Isobel Coleman
Women search for their names outside a polling station in Cairo May 24, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Suhaib Salem). Women search for their names outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, May 24, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Suhaib Salem).

Earlier this week, Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, charged with amending the country’s constitution, announced that 25 percent of municipal seats will be reserved for women. There is no word yet on when municipal elections will be held, or if a similar quota will be established for parliament, but the move is a positive step toward improving the low political participation of women in the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution. Read more »

Washington Should Suspend Aid to Egypt

by Isobel Coleman
Riot police fire tear gas during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Cairo, Egypt, August 14, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). Riot police fire tear gas during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Cairo, Egypt, August 14, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

The Egyptian military’s recent violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood makes clear that, despite their claims to the contrary, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his armed forces have no intention of supporting Egypt’s democratic process. It is time that Washington call the military’s actions what they are: a coup. Read more »

Upheaval in Egypt

by Isobel Coleman
Supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, July 4, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, July 4, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday, the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the constitution, following days of anti-government protests across the country. Morsi and his supporters have denounced the military’s actions, although protest leaders have celebrated the move as a step toward realizing the original goals of the 2011 revolution. In my article posted today on CNN.com, I analyze the events unfolding in Egypt and the intricate relationship between religion and politics that will play an important role in future of the country and the surrounding region. Read more »

Egypt’s Protests: Three Things to Know

by Isobel Coleman

Earlier today, the Egyptian Armed Forces showed their hand. Their leaked political roadmap proposes suspending the constitution, dissolving the parliament, and setting up an interim council. Opposition coalitions and Islamist groups have unveiled their own proposals as President Mohammed Morsi clings to power in spite of the military’s threat to intervene if he fails to resolve the political deadlock before Wednesday. As political leaders struggle to reach a resolution and the military’s 48-hour deadline looms,  protesters continue to riot across Egypt. Watch below for three things to know about the current upheaval. Read more »