US President Joe Biden has invited around 110 countries to a virtual summit on democracy in December, including major Western allies but also Iraq, India and Pakistan, according to a list posted on the State Department website on 23 November. China, the US’s principal rival, has not been invited while Taiwan is a move that risks angering Beijing. Turkey, which like America is a member of NATO, is also missing from the list of participants.
Among the countries of West Asia, only Israel and Iraq will participate in the online conference, scheduled for 9-10 December.
Traditional Arab allies of the US Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, are not invited.
Biden invited Brazil even though its President Jair Bolsonaro, whom the woke brand as “far-right”, is criticised in the US for an ‘authoritarian’ bent and his firm support for Donald Trump.
In Europe, Poland was invited to the summit despite persistent tension with the European Union over its human rights record. Hungary, led by hardline nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was not invited.
In Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among the countries on the list.
In announcing the summit back in August, the White House said the meeting would “galvanize commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.”
“For this kick-off Summit… there’s a case for getting a broad set of actors into the room: it provides for a better exchange of ideas than setting a perfect bar for qualification,” Laleh Ispahani of the Open Society Foundations said.
Rather than using the summit as an anti-China meeting, Ispahani urged Biden to address “the serious decline of democracy around the world – including relatively robust models like the US.”
This summit is being organized as democracy has suffered setbacks in countries where the US had placed great hopes.
Sudan and Myanmar have experienced military coups, Ethiopia is in the midst of a conflict that could lead to its “implosion,” according to US diplomats, and the Taliban took power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops after two decades.