Questions for Assistant Secretary of State Nominee Anne Patterson
Freedom House has compiled the following questions for Anne Patterson, most recently the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, who has been nominated to serve as the next U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled for Thursday, September 19.
- Will the promotion of democracy and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa be a priority for you in your role as assistant secretary? How will you elevate these issues in light of the myriad other concerns facing the region?
- With its pattern of support for the Mubarak regime, the 2011–12 military government, and the Morsi administration, the United States appears to have sided consistently with those in power over the years. This approach has left Washington with little respect among the Egyptian people and weakened its credibility with prodemocracy forces. What path forward do you see for rebuilding the reputation of the United States in Egypt?
- What is the proper role of democracy promotion in American policy toward Egypt? In your previous post as ambassador to the country, what steps did you take to support civil society and democratic development?
- During your tenure as ambassador in Cairo, the Egyptian government—first under the SCAF and then under President Morsi—carried out a campaign against American-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that included raids, office closings, indictments, and ultimately convictions of 6 groups and 43 of their employees, including 17 Americans. What measures did you take to resolve this crisis? Could the U.S. government have adopted a different approach to achieve a more positive result?
- Will it be a priority for you as assistant secretary to get the verdicts in the NGO case wiped from the books?
- What policies would you propose to reverse the current military-backed government’s growing authoritarianism?
- President Obama has said that the true source of America’s influence is not its economy or its military, but its democratic values, which it “must never waver in defending around the world.” Yet for the past two years the secretary of state has waived congressional restrictions on military aid to Egypt that are tied to progress on democracy and human rights. The decisions send a strong message about where U.S. priorities lie in Egypt. Would you advise the secretary to sign this waiver again next year if democratic and human rights conditions have not been met?
- Do you think the Egyptian military or other security forces are subject to the Leahy Law’s restrictions on U.S. assistance in light of the acts of violence they have committed in recent months?
- Despite the brutal government crackdown on prodemocracy protests in 2011 and ongoing repression of popular dissent, U.S. policy toward Bahrain has remained unchanged. What new measures would you adopt to ensure that the State Department more openly prioritizes human rights and democracy in its relations with Bahrain, and what leverage points would you use to encourage progress on these issues?
- Whatever happens with the current Russian-proposed deal on chemical weapons in Syria, the stated goal is not to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power or to end the conflict. As you know, more than 100,000 people have been killed by conventional weapons in what began as a violent crackdown on prodemocracy protests, and millions of Syrians have been displaced. What will the administration do to pursue an armistice and a negotiated peace deal? Is an agreement that allows Assad to remain in power acceptable to the administration?
- Can you describe the administration’s plans to support the protection of human rights and the movement toward a representative and accountable government in Libya, in keeping with the recent recommendations of the Libya Working Group? What is the administration doing to prevent rogue militias from derailing the transition? Has the transitional government demonstrated a commitment to developing a cohesive, peaceful state, including by accepting international assistance and investment?
- Of all the countries that experienced upheaval during the Arab Spring, Tunisia offers the best hope for a successful transition to democratic governance. However, the current political atmosphere is tense, and efforts to draft and present a new constitution have stalled. What policies would you propose to help ensure that democratic gains are consolidated in Tunisia?
- U.S. allies in the Gulf region include some of the world’s least free countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. What will you do to push for greater freedoms and democratic development in these repressive monarchies? Do you believe that U.S. strategic interests in the region will fare well over time in the absence of significant reform?
- Has support for greater human rights and democratic development in Iran been put on hold as a U.S. policy priority as long as nuclear negotiations are pending? Do you see any potential opening on these issues with the election of President Hassan Rouhani?
*Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State
Analyses and recommendations offered by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of Freedom House.