Jan 31, 2005 5:35 pm


As Condi Rice is setting out for the ME, I think it is only fair to ask her not to repeat the mistakes made in the summer of 2003 and which cost so very many innocent lives. Then, I published and article entitled, Why We Are in Danger of Losing the Peace in Iraq. I wrote:

"Unfortunately, the Bush administration forgot this lesson (Fourth of July) or lost its nerve. First, it dropped its demand for prompt elections in the Palestinian Authority and then delayed indefinitely the Iraqi people's opportunity to chose their own rulers. Note the following Washington Post headline:"Occupation Forces halt Elections Throughout Iraq." The other day the New York Times informed its readers that Sandra Day O'connor is working on drafting laws for Iraq. As the rising death toll of coalition forces and their collaborators in Iraq demonstrates, unless the Bush administration changes strategy quickly, it will lose the war to make the Middle East safe for democracy. For in the battle to remake the Middle East, America has but one ally -- the inhabitants of the region. She does not need to win their hearts with her largess, she needs to prove to them that she keeps her word by turning them into citizens. The only way to turn subjects into citizens is by giving them an opportunity to elect AND reelect their leaders. Citizens, unlike elites, put their daily life, liberty and pursuit of happiness first. That is the reason revolutionaries are eager to avoid electoral constraints and ideologues are contemptuous of the citizenry's judgment."

This month both the Palestinians and the Iraqis were finally given an opportunity to vote and both did what I assumed they would do, repudiate the terrorists. That repudiation should matter. Generosity in victory is a virtue provided it does not scuttle the victory. Both Hamas and the Sunni leaders who urged a boycott of the elections lost and should pay. Abbas enjoys a honeymoon and he must use it to take control of the Palestinian means of violence. On an interview she gave on FOX, she made the demand but I did not hear her repeat it on ABC. If Hamas is permitted to keep its guns, Rice should tell Abbas, we are nowhere.

The Palestinians are ready -"Hamas faces pressures from the fuming public" writes Khaled Al Haroub in Al-Hayat. No, he is not a peace advocate, he is a Hamas supporter who is trying to save Hamas from its growing difficulties stemming from the fact that"Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) currently benefits from legitimacy, which cannot be refuted by Hamas regardless of what it has to say". What does he recommend? One year cease fire in order "To Avoid (a Palestinian) Civil War." No sane country can be expected to make permanent concessions for an impermanent cease fire. Blaire and Ahren know how to stand up to the Sin Fein in Ireland. ( Sinn Fein to be told all IRA crime must come to end) Why not in the PA? The Palestinians deserve to have their voices heeded.

Nor should the wish to pacify the so called Sunni leaders who were afraid to let their people vote be elevated above those Sunni leader who did participate. From the start American administrators favored those who"dissed" them above those who sought to cooperate with them. I worry that the US may try to pressure the elected Iraqi leadership to follow the same counterproductive behavior.

Yes, the Sunni rejectionists know they lost. Here is the analysis of the loss in Dar Al Hayat :"Some Iraqis chose resistance without being able to retain its Iraqi nature. The resistance was launched with a deficient popular delegation, which made it exclusive to the Sunni triangle, then came Zarkawi and stole the right of representation and striking severe blows against some Iraqis primarily, and against Americans, secondarily. The Arab Sunni leaders did not appreciate the danger of withdrawal, boycotts, and falling within the Zarkawi war".

Public support for the new government and private information leading to the dismantling of the terrorist network should be the minimum demanded of them. The Iraqis will cheer and so will the rest of the region. The Iraqis already made a good start: Interior Ministry, Falah al-Naqi told reporters that Iraq’s security forces for the election rounded up 129 suspects near Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown in the Sunni region north of Baghdad, out of a total of 202 detained nationwide. The detainees included two Saudis, an Egyptian and a Yemeni, he said.

The silent Arab majority is proud today and justifiably so. Never again should the terrorists and their ideological supporters be permitted to claim they are the"authentic" representatives of the people. They are not. The blue fingers are.

Abdullah gets it. Jordan survived by tiptoeing carefully through the deep thicket of inter-Arab politics. In 1991 Hussein begged Bush pere not to attack Iraq. No one knows the region better or is weighs his words more carefully than a Jordanian monarch. So, his brave words matter. AMMAN - Iraq’s election will help set the wheel of reform moving in the Arab world and “there is no looking back”, Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Monday.

“I think what we saw yesterday in Iraq is a positive thing,” King Abdullah told CNN a day after Iraq held its first multi-party election in 50 years. “I think this is a thing that will set a good tone for the Middle East and I am optimistic.” . . .

“People are waking up, (Arab) leaders understanding that they have to push reform forward and I don’t think there is any looking back,” said the king, a close ally of Washington.

He said he didn’t believe autocratic Arab leaders were ”shaking in their boots” because of the voting in Iraq but said political reform was now an open subject in Arab societies.

“Once you open the door to reform and it’s allowed to be discussed in society, as it is throughout the Middle East, it is very difficult to close again,” he said.

The monarch said the high turnout in Iraq’s election sent a clear message to insurgents bent on destroying the US-backed political process in Jordan’s eastern neighbour.

“If there is one thing we can take away from yesterday, it is that the Iraqis have really come together and are stronger than the extremist groups that have been trying to destabilise Iraq over the past 24 months,” King Abdullah declared.

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