Al-Jazeera’s website is reporting that the authors of the much-talked about Arab Human Development Report have been told, after pressure from Washington and Cairo, that they have to release the report under their own names, and no longer associate it with the United Nations, which commissioned the thing. The Bush administration is allegedly displeased with criticisms in the report’s prologue of the occupation of Iraq, and Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. The Egyptian government, according to the Jazeera piece, objected to mentions of hereditary power in Egypt. Nader Fergany charged that the US threatened to withhold funding from the UN’s development budget.
The NYT”s Thomas Friedman wrote about the holdup last week in a good editorial (despite his contention that criticisms of the occupations are “political cover”, albeit heartfelt. Here is an interview with Fergany, and you can decide whether his comments were “cover.” Still, for the time being, give Friedman the benefit of the doubt, and assume the authors told him they wrote the prologue to cover their butts.)
I’ll pass on more about this as I find it.