There is an ample supply of information and expertise on Middle Eastern politics in Western think tanks, media and academia. However, there is a dearth of knowledge about, and little understanding of, how regional political changes affect the everyday lives and needs of the region’s people. The world has celebrated the rising stars of the “Arab Spring” revolutions and appreciated their contributions to bringing about change, but many others remain unrecognized, their grievances marginalized or ignored. With the support of our deeply knowledgeable and extensive network of actors in the region, TIMEP is committed to having these marginalized voices be acknowledged. The analyses provided by TIMEP will particularly aim to connect those outside the region with local knowledge and perspectives. By harnessing the extensive regional expertise of its staff—along with that of its expansive network of on-the-ground experts and activists—TIMEP will contribute significantly to the national dialogue concerning the Middle East and thereby promote well-founded policy in the region.
TIMEP’s mission, through its research and advocacy, is to uncover and support initiatives and voices—wherever they may be—that call for the following in the Middle East:
Restoration and primacy of the rule of law; equality of all citizens before the law; access to fair and swift justice; respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and of religion; protection of civil and political liberties; expansion of women’s rights; youth empowerment; freedom of the media; balancing power within governments; and elections for public office that are free, fair, and contested openly in an environment of political pluralism.
Adoption of economic policies that responsibly harness and develop, rather than stifle or waste, the region’s human, natural and capital resources.
The Tahrir Institute seeks to amplify and support the many voices that have filled public spaces across the Arab World demanding that genuine democracy replace decades of political stagnation, corruption, and repression. We believe that supporting genuine democratic transitions is essential for unlocking the creative and productive potential of the region’s peoples and thereby advancing the universal interest in a peaceful and stable Middle East.
The pivotal opportunities now present in the region, however, are at risk of being lost. Specious “democratic” processes are being used to avoid or to override fundamental reforms based on forging national consensus, an essential aspect of a sustainable and prosperous body politic. Already, some countries in the region are showing signs of a return to political repression, while others remain steeped in seemingly intractable quagmires.
These difficulties are interpreted by some as “growing pains” on the path to democracy, and the presence of elections is often held as a key factor in making such determinations. However, we believe that electoral processes are not the primary—let alone the only—indicator of political progress. Instead, we look for the progressive institutionalization of a range of political, judicial, and economic processes and principles as the means by which the extent of true democratic reform can be judged.