Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, March 30, 2015

Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, March 30, 2015

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Christian Caryl bemoans the slowing pace of democratic reforms in Southeast Asia.

Berivan Orucoglu reports on the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Turkey.

Alexander Motyl challenges the notion that Ukraine is suffering from a warlord problem.

Mohamed Eljarh charts the fading prospects of a peace deal between Libya’s warring factions.

Jamie Suchlicki draws attention to Cuba’s strangest relationship: its longstanding alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

And now for this week’s recommended reads:

Nigerians anxiously await the results of their country’s election, with incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari running neck-and-neck as votes are tallied. The elections were marred by Boko Haram violence in several villages, but in an initial statement, NDI’s observer mission offers cautious praise, commending Nigerian voters for “tremendous patience” and noting their “strong and enthusiastic commitment” to democracy. Al Jazeera has more background on the candidates and issues.

On the New York Times opinion page, Charles Onyango-Obbo explains how Africa’s successful democratic reforms have paradoxically led to greater collusion between governments and private interests. Also in the Times, Zeynep Tufekci cautions that the ease of organizing mass protests via social networks can tempt activists to skip the work of building a more durable opposition infrastructure.

Global Witness issues a report detailing its investigation of land grabs by Burma’s military, political, and business elites.

In the Wall Street Journal, Orville Schell sums up the legacy of Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew, arguing that his prosperous autocratic model has provided an example for other Asian powers. But the Economist disagrees, contending that the Singaporean experience is unique.

In the Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian interviews Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, dismissed from his position as a regional governor last week after clashing with President Poroshenko. For more background on the country’s oligarchs and efforts to reign them in, check out last week’s Power Vertical podcast.

In the Monkey Cage blog, Stephen Day explains that the origins of the unrest in Yemen lie not in Iranian machinations, but in the country itself. (In the photo, armed Houthi supporters demonstrate against the Saudi-led intervention on March 26.)

In the Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria argues that accommodating Middle Eastern despots leads to growing extremism in their regimes’ shadows. Writing for CNN, Lina Khatib agrees, detailing the costs of the West’s shameful reliance on dictators for illusory stability.

In Dart-Throwing Chimp, Jay Ulfelder uses the example of Egypt’s military coup to show how entrenched power structures enjoy the advantage of resiliency against their revolutionary opponents.

Democracy Lab contributor Mohamed El Dahshan evaluates the mixed results of Egypt’s recent economic development conference.