Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Democracy of Fear

Rami Khouri, mild mannered and polite, normally balances his criticism of the West with equal doses of vitriol for Arab leaders and their lieutenants. Not today; he minces no words.

America talks about building democracy in the Middle East. In fact, it fosters mainly violence and failed states.

By Rami G. Khouri
Newsweek International

June 5, 2006 issue - Many of us in the Middle East instinctively hold our breath in fear when American and British leaders get together to discuss our region and its evolving politics and nations, as U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair did last week in Washington. They heaped accolades on the new Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and proclaimed yet another beacon of hope and change for the entire Arab world. Bush applauded the "watershed event." Blair, during a fleeting visit to Baghdad, called it "a new beginning" that will let Iraqis take charge of their own destiny.

Say what?

The view from the Arab world is rather different, based on our own history rather than imagined futures. Since Napoleon's conquest of Egypt two centuries ago, most of us have doubted the sincerity, legitimacy and efficacy of the Western armies that regularly march into our lands to deliver modernity through the muzzle of a French musket or the barrel of an M-1 tank. While Anglo-American politicians proclaim historic strides to replace Arab despotism and darkness with freedom and democracy, people who actually live here and know something about the Middle East shudder. For they witness Iraq and other Arab countries descending into an ever more fractious maelstrom of ethnic, religious and tribal violence. The link with U.S. and British policies is as clear and consistent as it is dangerous and destructive.
One can contrast Rami's angry article with Bush's speach at West Point "Bush to West Point grads: The message has spread from Damascus to Tehran that the future belongs to freedom." Or with the well crafted article by Massoud Darhally, reporting from the World Economic Forum in Egypt: One step forward, two steps back.

"The Democracy of Fear" explains Nir Rosen, writing in the Washington Post, is the only democracy he is seeing in Iraq.
Iraq Is the Republic of Fear
By Nir Rosen
Sunday, May 28, 2006; Page B01

Every morning the streets of Baghdad are littered with dozens of bodies, bruised, torn, mutilated, executed only because they are Sunni or because they are Shiite. Power drills are an especially popular torture device.

I have spent nearly two of the three years since Baghdad fell in Iraq. On my last trip, a few weeks back, I flew out of the city overcome with fatalism. Over the course of six weeks, I worked with three different drivers; at various times each had to take a day off because a neighbor or relative had been killed. One morning 14 bodies were found, all with ID cards in their front pockets, all called Omar. Omar is a Sunni name. In Baghdad these days, nobody is more insecure than men called Omar. On another day a group of bodies was found with hands folded on their abdomens, right hand over left, the way Sunnis pray. It was a message. These days many Sunnis are obtaining false papers with neutral names. Sunni militias are retaliating, stopping buses and demanding the jinsiya , or ID cards, of all passengers. Individuals belonging to Shiite tribes are executed.

Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, dissidents called Iraq "the republic of fear" and hoped it would end when Hussein was toppled. But the war, it turns out, has spread the fear democratically.
We won't even speak of Palestine. But if you want to, read David Hirst this week in the Guardian: Punishment of Palestinians will create a crucible of trouble for the world. George Bush's policies helped build Hamas; now a dangerous linkage with Iran and Iraq threatens a mega-crisis.


At 5/29/2006 07:06:00 AM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

several of us , arab syrian, living in the USA are unable to call family in syria this week, the syrian families are able to call relatives in the USA, but those living in USA are unable to call to syria, this is this week only so far, can you call relatives ,call syria or only those I know?

At 5/29/2006 07:58:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

I tried to call Syria Thursday and Friday but could not ,I thought it was only me.

At 5/29/2006 09:46:00 PM, Blogger George Ajjan said...

Likewise for me, but it was a foreign mobile on roaming, so I attributed the difficulty to technical problems. This was on Sunday.

At 5/30/2006 10:13:00 AM, Blogger sisco-side said...

There was an attempted coup in Syria. That is why the International Lines are disrupted. They are still busy executing people.

At 5/31/2006 12:14:00 AM, Blogger souria el hora said...

very nice article,,1786252,00.html

At 6/02/2006 07:45:00 PM, Blogger caddidy66 said...

i have no patience for bush or his blundering policy. but bush had very little to do with hamas' creation and subsequent growth. this movement was born in the late 1980s and took off in the 1990s.

At 7/14/2006 05:43:00 PM, Blogger Yabroud said...



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