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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Showing posts for "Combating Extremism"

Women Leaders Under Attack

by Isobel Coleman
Shukria Barakzai campaigns for 2005 parliamentary elections in Kabul, August 22, 2005 (Courtesy Reuters/Zohra Bensemra). Shukria Barakzai campaigns for 2005 parliamentary elections in Kabul, August 22, 2005 (Courtesy Reuters/Zohra Bensemra).

In Afghanistan earlier this week, another female leader came under attack. Shukria Barakzai, an outspoken and high-profile member of Afghanistan’s parliament, narrowly escaped death when a suicide bomber rammed her armored car as she headed to work. At least three people were killed and many injured, but Barakzai escaped with only minor injuries. No stranger to death threats and assassination attempts, Barakzai has experienced several near misses during her many years as an activist and politician, and she readily accepts the personal risks she faces on a daily basis. Read more »

Beating Boko Haram

by Isobel Coleman
A woman takes part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in Abuja, Nigeria, May 12, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde). A woman takes part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in Abuja, Nigeria, May 12, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde).

Earlier today, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered to release more than 200 kidnapped school girls in exchange for prisoners. In the video, approximately one hundred girls are seen wearing hijabs and reciting verses from the Quran. Most of the girls are believed to be Christian, but Shekau explains they have been converted to Islam. Meanwhile, the international effort to rescue the girls is ramping up. The United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, and Israel are helping the Nigerian government strategize about how to find the girls and fight the radical Islamic group. Read more »

Algeria’s Presidential Election and the Challenges Ahead

by Isobel Coleman
A woman stands at a bus stop beside election campaign posters of Algerian president and presidential candidate Abdelaziz Bouteflika at Bab El Oued district in Algiers, April 14, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters) A woman stands at a bus stop beside election campaign posters of Algerian president and presidential candidate Abdelaziz Bouteflika at Bab El Oued district in Algiers, April 14, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters)

Algerians head to the polls today to vote in presidential elections. Although six candidates are running, the country’s long-serving president, seventy-seven year old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is expected to coast to a fourth term. In a region rife with revolution, Algeria is caught in a political time warp. The ruling elite swim against the tide of political change that the Arab uprisings unleashed. They rally around the ailing Bouteflika–who suffered a stroke in 2013 and has rarely been seen in public during the campaign–as the candidate of stability and security. Read more »

Guest Post: Ed Husain on How to Counter Islamic Extremism

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
The "Tribute in Lights" illuminates the sky over lower Manhattan on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Jim Young). The "Tribute in Lights" illuminates the sky over lower Manhattan on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Jim Young).

This guest post is written by my colleague, Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR. Here he discusses his latest Policy Innovation Memorandum, which lays out a plan for countering violent extremism.  Read more »

Rached Ghannouchi and Tunisia’s Transition

by Isobel Coleman
Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, Tunisia's main Islamist political party, speaks during a demonstration in Tunis on February 16, 2013 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters). Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Nahda movement, Tunisia's main Islamist political party, speaks during a demonstration in Tunis on February 16, 2013 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, my colleague Ed Husain and I hosted a meeting with Rached Ghannouchi—the cofounder and president of Tunisia’s Islamist Nahda party—at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. The audio is available here. Read more »

Fawzia Koofi: A Leader for Afghanistan

by Isobel Coleman
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 »

Guest Post: Revolution Reloaded in Tunisia

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
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 »

Morsi, Anti-Semitism, and Free Speech in Egypt

by Isobel Coleman
The Muslim Brotherhood's president-elect Mohammed Morsi is seen on screens at the Egyptian Television headquarters control room during his first televised address to the nation in Cairo on June 24, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters). The Muslim Brotherhood's president-elect Mohammed Morsi is seen on screens at the Egyptian Television headquarters control room during his first televised address to the nation in Cairo on June 24, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been making headlines this week for his hateful and anti-Semitic remarks made in 2010 when he was a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood: “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.” Through a spokesman, Morsi has since argued that these remarks were taken out of context, although I’m struggling to see how. Read more »

Afghan Public Opinion

by Isobel Coleman
Afghan soldiers wait before the handover ceremony between the French Army and the Afghan National Army at the forward operating base of Nijrab as part of the withdrawal of the French troops on November 20, 2012 (Eric Gaillard/Courtesy Reuters). Afghan soldiers wait before the handover ceremony between the French Army and the Afghan National Army at the forward operating base of Nijrab as part of the withdrawal of the French troops on November 20, 2012 (Eric Gaillard/Courtesy Reuters).

As the international military presence in Afghanistan winds down, fears of unrest, civil war, and backsliding on fragile gains loom large. An October 2012 International Crisis Group (ICG) report states that “Afghanistan is far from ready to assume responsibility for security when U.S. and NATO forces withdraw in 2014,” arguing that “…steps toward a stable transition must begin now to prevent a precipitous slide toward state collapse. Time is running out.” The increase of green-on-blue attacks and green-on-green attacks—Afghan soldiers and police attacking international forces colleagues and one another—raises serious questions about the state of the Afghan forces. Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former mujahadeen member who was ousted from his position as governor of Herat by President Hamid Karzai in 2004, recently called on his supporters to rearm, another ominous sign that former warlords are once again preparing for war. Read more »

Observing the International Day of the Girl

by Isobel Coleman
Students hold a placard during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan on October 11, 2012 to condemn the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters). Students hold a placard during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan on October 11, 2012 to condemn the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters).

Today is the United Nations’ first ever International Day of the Girl. The UN’s designation of this day reflects the growing awareness of the special challenges girls face around the world. It comes at a sober moment: just this week, the Taliban in Pakistan shot a 14 year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for her outspoken advocacy of girls’ education.  Although Malala survived the attack, she is in critical condition and the Taliban has vowed to finish the job if and when she leaves the hospital. Read more »