03/09/2005: Dickey's "Arabian Springtime"
I am so pleased that Christopher Dickey (Newsweek Paris News Bureau Chief and Middle East Affairs expert) spies the positive momentum of the cry of "freedom" ringing across the Middle East as he writes in this article: An Arabian Spring. Chris writes:
"...Each experiment with freedom is helping to build democratic momentum, and after so much bad news out of the Middle East, there's suddenly so much good that the Bush administration finds itself basking in vindication. The old arguments for invading Iraq—the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein's ephemeral ties to Al Qaeda—have faded into the background. "Democratization in the Middle East is the cornerstone of what Washington wants to achieve in the region," says one U.S. official....
In fact, expectations are rising much faster now than anyone anticipated, encouraged by White House rhetoric but triggered by uncontrollable events like the death of Arafat in November and the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February. Even in Iraq, it was Ayatollah Ali Sistani, not the Americans, who insisted on elections sooner rather than later. "When you look at the streets you realize we're just playing catch-up," says one State Department official. "The people are pushing for this on their own...
"I think the Middle East is changing," ...."The Arab people want to join the rest of the civilized world. They want freedom. I have denounced the American invasion of Iraq, but I also admit that the Iraqi people are now free." He recounted the recent steps toward democracy in other areas. "And in Lebanon, the young people of Lebanon—the youngsters of Lebanon—are just fed up! Fed up. And it's a revolt, a popular revolt triggered, of course, by the killing of Hariri. We say we want a new Lebanon. We've had enough of blood, killing and assassinations. We want independence."
Indeed, that sentiment may be the strongest one sweeping the Middle East. But what does it mean, really? Democracy is not the only rallying cry, or even the most potent one. As Jumblatt is quick to say, Arabs are sick of living in occupied countries, whether the occupiers are Syrian or Israeli or, for that matter, even the well-intentioned United States of America."
Though Chris hasn't always been so optimistic-- or had a farther range of a 15-20 year optimism in viewing the potential of the Middle East and true "freedom loving" peaceful democratization of that region (or Iraq in particular) -- it is good to note the winds of change he sees from his much closer and clearer vantage point of the region than many experts or pundits have.
Karen on 03.09.05 @ 05:18 AM CST