“Possibly emboldened by Washington’s recent decision to approve military aid to Egypt without conditions on improving human rights,” National Journal reports, the United Arab Emirates has shut down the Dubai office of the National Democratic Institute.
UAE authorities yesterday closed the Abu Dhabi offices of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a think tank close to Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, which promotes democracy abroad.
“After our experience in Egypt, not only do we regret this decision but it rings alarm bells if non-governmental organizations and political foundations are not desired in the Arab World,” said KAS head Hans-Gert Poettering.
Egyptian authorities raided the foundation’s offices in Cairo last year, along with those of NDI, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House and several other foreign and indigenous pro-democracy groups.
No reason was given for shuttering NDI’s Dubai office, which functioned as a hub for programs in other Gulf states, said Les Campbell, the group’s Middle East and North Africa director.
“As far as we understand it now, our license will be cancelled,” Campbell told National Journal.
The State Department said it was in contact with the UAE authorities over its decision to close the NDI office on Wednesday.
“We’ve made clear that allowing NGOs to operate openly and freely is important to support political and economic development,” a State Department official told National Journal.
Advocates of Arab democracy fear that Egypt’s crackdown on pro-democracy groups will embolden other regimes in the region to do likewise.
“For governments around the world to see that Egypt can remain the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid while it’s cracking down blatantly on international organizations – including American organizations that are trying to support democracy– is very likely to embolden other governments to follow suit,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy.
NDI and IRI are two of the core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy.