Jun 22, 2004 5:34 pm


This may be counter intuitive, but seeing my mailbox filled with emails supporting and opposing not only Israeli policies but also Iraqi ones, makes me happy. Finally, the political process, so rudely and counterproductively disrupted shortly after the appointment of Bremer, has resumed and advocates are convinced that the fate of the Iraq, the ME and even the world, depends on the outcome. No, it does not, provided a second round of elections is insured so that Iraqis will be given a reasonably fair chance at throwing the rascals out. Why? Because that is the only way to force leaders to pay attention on homeland governance. In Democracies the self-interest of the opposition party(ies) is to focus like a laser on the mistakes of the ruling party(ies). Blaming outside forces will never persuade the voters to vote for the opposition. Just follow the current elections cycle in the US. Only in dictatorships can the government blame the rest of the world for its own failures. In the Middle East, stability has been based on the ability of tyrants to blame colonialism, Imperialism, Zionism and American mendacity for the failings of the region. The UN report on the Arab world was not attacked for being inaccurate. It was attacked for not blaming Israel enough. So, the second report tried to do better.

9/11 and its aftermath proved just how outrageous the price of ME stability (Syria and Egypt have been under emergency rule for decades) has been. That is the reason that the G-8 agreed to help promote democracy in the ME knowing full well that that meant the destabilization of the Middle East. The current violence in Iraq and Saudi Arabia though heartbreaking is not unlike the convulsions which permeated East Europe prior to the collapse of the USSR. In other words, it is not useless. It is enough to contrast the hopefulness of the Afghanis (who continue to go home in record numbers) and the Iraqis with the gloom and doom which typifies the Iranians.

In the meantime, those who dismiss the efforts to promote change in the ME should note the appearance of the new daily in Egypt for it focuses on DOMESTIC shortcoming - Ministers in muddles while columnist of traditional papers try to convince the public that it cannot be trusted with power:"Under the headline,"Impending change and real change: how others create leaders while we kill them with friendly fire", Abdel-Moneim conceded that the public's concern with the question of domestic political change and reform was"healthy". He cautioned, however, that within Egyptian society"lurk certain negative and destructive elements with cockroach-like antennas who gauge people's concerns, then mobilize them in the service of their own destructive interests. There is no difference here between militant groups and the prominent academic of dual nationality (sociology professor Saadeddin Ibrahim) who came out on a brotherly Arab satellite channel (Al-Arabiya) to incite the Arab street. This he did, although he knows very well that in the country (the US) in whose nationality he seeks refuge, such incitement in the media can only be met with imprisonment."

The problem is NOT the Arab street. People are people. The problem are the dictators and their ruling elites that promote a culture of throat cutters and body mutilators instead of ruthless politicians, corporate giants and media moguls.

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