Brookings: NGO funding shortfalls to blame for lack of democratization

Egyptian political groups and movements–including the Kefaya, 6 April, National Association for Change and Muslim Brotherhood opposition movements–have not received US financial assistance, the Brookings Institute, an independent American research organization, noted in a recent report.

The report, entitled "Civil Society in the Arab World and the Dilemma of Funding"–written by Shadi Hamid, director of the institute's research center in Doha, Qatar and research fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy–also found that, upon entering office, the Obama administration made a decision to provide US assistance only to those Egyptian organizations officially recognized by the Egyptian government.

Such organizations, however, are approved for a reason: namely, they do not threaten the regime's interests while providing a facade of active civil society and political openness, the report found. Many of the most active human rights NGOs in Egypt, for example, are part of an umbrella group called the Human Rights Forum, nearly all of which remain unregistered.

US government funding for Egyptian NGOs, therefore, is unlikely to support revolutionary movements, the report found. 

“This, of course, hampers the opposition and puts it at a severe disadvantage in the face of regimes that have unlimited coffers for political combat,” the report notes. “The problem of funding is a critical one for emerging liberal and leftist opposition movements throughout the region.”

The Brookings report concluded by noting that civil society had failed to foster democratic transitions in the Arab world due to the difficulties associated with funding NGOs not approved by respective Arab regimes.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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