THE MUSLIM WORLD IS WATCHING LIBYA AND TURKEY
While the Americans are busy selecting a serious Democratic presidential candidate and the European"big three" are trying to hold on to their traditional superiority within the EU, the Muslim world is watching to see if this time, the West really means it when it says that the time has come to integrate the M.E. into the global system. In other words, that the American and Europeans each in their own way have seriously decided to democratize and modernize the Arab world.
The American seriousness will be determined by its insistence that Libya undertake democratic reforms. Yes, I know Khaddafi provided us with a treasure trove. But failure to ask for internal reform would merely tell Muslims that the US does not care about them and it would tell their autocrats that they can pay off Washington with intelligence instead of oil.
European seriousness will depend on giving Turkey a date for beginning the negotiations for joining the EU. Muslims will believe that Europeans are willing to treat them as equals only if they permit the no longer"sick man of Europe" to join the club every East European country was permitted to join. Just ask Erdogan what is the first question his fellow Middle Easterners ask him.
Those who still believe that Arabs are not ready for democracy should read the Sunday NYT article about the local elections in Faluja and watch the impressive manner in which the Iraqi leadership is outsmarting Bremer and his"election experts." I think the idea of holding elections in the peaceful Shia and Kurdish areas is brilliant. It is time to stop rewarding violence by holding the rest of Iraq hostage to the mass killers in the Sunni triangle.
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