Regardless of the outcomes in these two countries one would have to be naïve not to know that these experiments in democracy are being observed by the Arab street person and more importantly the governments in the Middle East. The average guy on the street has to be reacting to all this talk about constitutions and elections and wondering: Why not my country?Some of these are small steps, but they are steps in the correct direction. Liberals used to cheer steps towards democracy in other countries and to decry American support of dictators. Now, they seem to have taken an isolationist stance that belies the traditions of FDR, Truman, and Kennedy.
President Mubarak, leader of the most populated Arab country on the globe, although it was officially denied, was pressured by the U.S. to allow opposition candidates to run for the presidency for the first time in a quarter of a century. Mubarak won, of course, but the most visible losing candidate was quoted as saying this was a step in the right direction and implied there was no turning back. Progress?
The same with Saudi Arabia, which like Egypt often seems more like the enemy rather than an ally in the war on terrorism. The royal family recently permitted elections on a local level. Even the small monarchies are getting into line. Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Morocco have all taken steps towards representative local governments.
Even Kuwait made an enormous step forward for the Arab world by naming its first woman cabinet minister - Massourna al Mubarek - a journalist and university professor, and get this; she is a woman's rights activist. (In the Middle East?) Two women were also named to the municipal council for civil planning and social services. And all this was accomplished just one month after woman won the right to vote and run for office.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Bush are making overtures to each other
But all this is happening during Bush's presidency; so it is highly unpopular progress.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
One Florida columnist, John Reiniers, understands what momentous changes we've witnessed due to American actions in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past four years.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 10:54 AM