Is This the Start of Freedom in the Middle East?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Adam's Apple, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Why Not Here?
    By DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times
    Published: February 26, 2005

    This is the most powerful question in the world today: Why not here? People in Eastern Europe looked at people in Western Europe and asked, Why not here? People in Ukraine looked at people in Georgia and asked, Why not here? People around the Arab world look at voters in Iraq and ask, Why not here?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/26/opinion/26brooks.html?
     
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  2. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    He mentions one of my all time favorite books:
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    A Paradigm Shift in the History of Science by Thomas Kuhn

    David Brooks is too awesome to be with the NY Times!
     
  3. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    So true. I don't know how the NYT keeps him on staff. They must pay him BIG TIME, as Cheney would put it.
     
  4. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    I've heard they DO pay very well. Guess that is the answer.
     
  5. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    Even more proof, now Lebanon citizens protesting in multitudes......Puppet gevernment put in place by Syria says it will step down.



    10,000 in Beirut Join Protest Against Syria
    Monday, February 28, 2005



    •No Sign Yet of Syrian Repositioning•Syria Shifts Troops to Eastern Lebanon •Iraqi TV Shows Alleged Syrian Confession•U.S., France Back Probe of Hariri Murder•Arab League: Syria Out of Lebanon Soon•Anti-Syrian Opposition Protests in Lebanon•Iran, Syria Pact Raises Eyebrows
    BEIRUT, Lebanon — Defying a ban on protests, about 10,000 people demonstrated against Syrian interference in Lebanon on Monday, as opposition lawmakers sought to bring down the pro-Damascus government two weeks after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (search).

    Hundreds of soldiers and police blocked off Beirut's central Martyrs' Square (search), but there was no violence, even as more protesters managed to evade the cordon and join the demonstration.

    Protest leaders urged their followers not to provoke the security forces, who refrained from trying to disperse the crowd.

    Also, Syrian President Bashar Assad (search) denied involvement in Hariri's killing, telling an Italian newspaper that would have been an act of "political suicide" for Damascus. Assad also said he was convinced the United States will realize that his country is essential to peace efforts in the Middle East and in Iraq.

    Opposition legislators sought to bring down the pro-Syrian government of Prime Minister Omar Karami in Monday's confidence debate. It was the first time the legislature discussed the Feb. 14 assassination of Hariri, who was killed with 16 other people in a massive bomb blast.

    "The assembly seeks answers to one question: 'Who killed Rafik Hariri?"' parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said as he opened the debate, calling on the government to expedite its investigation.


    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,148920,00.html



    A Mideast Makeover?
    Popular Protests Spur Changes From Autocrats

    By Jackson Diehl
    Monday, February 28, 2005; Page A17

    As thousands of Arabs demonstrated for freedom and democracy in Beirut and Cairo last week, and the desperate dictators of Syria and Egypt squirmed under domestic and international pressure, it was hard not to wonder whether the regional transformation that the Bush administration hoped would be touched off by its invasion of Iraq is, however tentatively, beginning to happen.

    Those who have declared the war an irretrievable catastrophe have been gloating for at least a year over the supposed puncturing of what they portray as President Bush's fanciful illusion that democracy would take root in Iraq and spread through the region. They may yet be proved right. But how, then, to explain the tens of thousands who marched through Beirut last Monday carrying red and white roses and scarves -- the colors of what they call the "independence intifada" -- and calling for "freedom, independence and sovereignty" from neighboring Syria? Or the hundreds of Egyptian protesters who gathered that same day at Cairo University, in defiance of thousands of police officers, to chant the slogan of "kifaya," or "enough," at 76-year-old President Hosni Mubarak?



    (Lebanese Citizens Protest Last Monday Where Former Prime Minist)

    • A Mideast Makeover?: Popular Protests Spur Changes From Autocrats (Post, Feb. 28, 2005)
    • Seizing My Opportunity (Post, Feb. 28, 2005)




    The best evidence that something is happening comes from the autocrats themselves. Mubarak, under mounting pressure from the Egyptian political elite, on Saturday abandoned his plan to extend his term in office through an uncontested referendum later this year. Instead he announced that the constitution would be changed to allow for a multiple-candidate election for president. His most credible liberal challenger, Ayman Nour, remains in jail on trumped-up charges, and Mubarak's reform may prove to be little more than a ruse. But the old autocrat's attempt to crush the opposition movement Nour helped to create has clearly backfired, forcing him to improvise.

    Syrian President Bashar Assad looks even more desperate. Last week his regime issued a new promise to redeploy its troops in Lebanon, trying to deflect the growing pressure of both the U.N. Security Council and a newly united Lebanese opposition. Assad, like Mubarak, hoped the elimination of his most likely liberal adversary, former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, would stop an incipient freedom movement. Instead, he has touched off one of the largest demonstrations of "people power" in the modern history of the Arab Middle East. It's not over: A general strike is scheduled for today.

    These are autocrats whose regimes had remained unaltered, and unchallenged, for decades. There has been no political ferment in Damascus since the 1960s, or in Cairo since the 1950s. Now, within weeks of Iraq's elections, Mubarak and Assad are tacking with panicked haste between bold acts of repression, which invite an international backlash, and big promises of reform -- which also may backfire, if they prove to be empty. They could yet survive; but quite clearly, the Arab autocrats don't regard the Bush dream of democratic dominoes as fanciful.

    The Lebanese uprising is far more advanced than that of Egypt. But Mubarak has taken the boldest action, in part because he has almost as much to fear as Assad from the Beirut intifada. A forced Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon might spell the downfall of the Assad dynasty in Damascus. Either way, in the absence of Syrian coercion, the Lebanese parliamentary election in May would become the third free democratic vote in the Arab world this year. That would make it politically impossible for Mubarak to extend his own tenure by patently undemocratic means.

    Mubarak's dramatic announcement on Saturday was an effort to preempt that problem. But Egypt's "kifaya" movement -- which has been demanding a democratic presidential election in unprecedented and rapidly growing demonstrations -- won't be satisfied if the proposed reform doesn't allow candidates like Nour to challenge Mubarak, and on a playing field leveled by the lifting of emergency laws and restrictions on the media. For now, Nour is still in jail; until he is released, Mubarak's concession to democracy will have no credibility.

    Virtually no one in Washington expected such a snowballing of events following Iraq's elections. Not many yet believe that they will lead to real democracy in Egypt, Lebanon or Syria anytime soon. But it is a fact of history that the collapse of a rotted political order usually happens quickly, and takes most of the experts by surprise. In early 1989 I surveyed a panoply of West German analysts about the chances that the then-incipient and barely noticed unrest in Eastern Europe could lead to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. None thought it possible; most laughed at me for asking the question.

    If a Middle East transformation begins to gather momentum, it probably will be more messy, and the results more ambiguous, than those European revolutions. It also won't be entirely Bush's creation: The tinder for ignition has been gathering around the stagnant and corrupt autocracies of the Middle East for years. Still, less than two years after Saddam Hussein was deposed, the fact is that Arabs are marching for freedom and shouting slogans against tyrants in the streets of Beirut and Cairo -- and regimes that have endured for decades are visibly tottering. Those who claimed that U.S. intervention could never produce such events have reason to reconsider.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58850-2005Feb27.html?sub=AR
     

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