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Now Iraq has tasted democracy, the Arab tyrants are shaking in their shoes
The Times (U.K.) ^ | 02/15/05 | Amir Taheri

Posted on 02/14/2005 3:26:15 PM PST by Pokey78

AN ELECTION that was not supposed to happen because the so-called resistance in Iraq — and its sympathisers in the West — did not want it has produced results that the doomsters did not expect.

First, the massive boycott of the polls did not take place. Last month almost two thirds of Iraqi voters voted in the first free and fair election in their history.

Now, the final results show that the doomsters were wrong a second time. There was no green tidal wave of radical Shiism that was supposed to transform Iraq into a carbon copy of the Khomeinist republic in Iran. The United Iraqi Alliance, a list endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the primus inter pares of the Shia clerics, did win 48 per cent of the votes. But this is far short of the two-third majority that the Shia could have won had they all voted for the list. In any case, the UIA list was not a confessional ticket and had Arab Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians standing as candidates. It is an alliance of half a dozen parties and groups, including secularists.

The supposed total exclusion of the Arab Sunnis from the National Assembly did not happen, either. Arab Sunnis account for some 15 per cent of the Iraqi population and are a majority in four out of 18 provinces. In three of those provinces the voter turnout was below 30 per cent, and in one, Anbar, dropped to 2 per cent. But only half of the Arab Sunnis live in those provinces. The other half, in Baghdad and other major cities, voted in larger numbers.

Based on their demographic strength, the Arab Sunnis should have 42 seats in the 275-seat transitional National Assembly. The final results show that the new assembly will have 49 Arab Sunnis sitting in it. Of these 40 were elected on the Shia-led and the Kurdish lists, plus the list headed by Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister. Five were elected on a list led by Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawer, the Arab Sunni interim President, while four more won within smaller alliances. If we add the Kurds, who are also Sunni Muslims, at least 110 members of the assembly are Sunnis.

But the politics of new Iraq is not about sectarian differences. Religious and ethnic identities were used in this election, but this was in an absence of political organisations that could not take shape under Saddam Hussein’s despotic regimes. The Shia-led and Kurdish lists, the two main winners, could theoretically form a coalition and control the transition and the writing of a new constitution. But we are not dealing with monolithic groups. The two lists are alliances that include many different ideologies — nationalist, liberal, Islamist, far Left, socialist and social democrat. My instinct is that the new assembly will be organised on the basis of political programmes rather than sectarian and/or ethnic identities with Arab nationalist, Islamists and liberals-conservatives blocs forming. But those who have known the new emerging Iraqi leadership for years know that almost all its members are united in their rejection of any new form of despotism. Having been liberated from Saddamism, few Iraqis would want to return to a state of virtual servitude, whether in the name of God or political ideology.

Saddam nostalgics, having failed in all their predictions of doom, are playing another tune. They claim that post-election Iraq will either become an Iranian-style Islamic republic or will be plunged into civil war. Some despotic Arab regimes, already shaking with fear that democracy in Iraq may spread to their neck of the wood, have lost no time in saying this.

Al-Ahram, the daily newspaper of the Egyptian Government, greeted the election results as the signal for civil war, claiming that holding elections is the principal cause of the current violence in Iraq. The Saudi media has brought back the Shia bogeyman as an argument against the holding of genuine elections in the region. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis, however, see the Khomeinist regime in Tehran not as a model but as a warning. The Iraqi electorate has rejected not only Khomeinism but all other brands of extremism: the combined share of the votes for the most radical groups was puny. The party of Muqtada al-Sadr, the firebrand anti-American Shia cleric who was supposed to represent the angry Arab street, won just two seats.

One thing is sure: Iraq has been set on the road to democracy. This is going to be a bumpy road with many zigzags. But, provided the US-led coalition does not lose its nerve, but stays committed until the new Iraq can defend itself against its domestic and foreign foes, the Iraqi experience could inspire democratic change in other Muslim countries in the Middle East.

It would not be easy for Syria to orchestrate another fake election in Lebanon in May. The Khomeinists in Iran would find it hard to present another fixed election in June as a genuine reflection of the popular will. The Egyptians would have a hard time producing another 99.99 per cent majority for President Hosni Mubarak, or his son Gamal, in yet another single-candidate election next year. The Saudis would not be able to indefinitely postpone demands for at least half of the seats in the Majlis, their parliament, to go to elected members. In Libya Colonel Gaddafi might find it harder to appoint his son as prime minister with a mere acclamation from his henchmen.

The Arab despots and their friends in the West make a meal of the cliché that democracy cannot be imposed by force. But what happened in Iraq was not imposing democracy by force. The US-led alliance used force to remove impediments to democracy. The people of Iraq became the co-liberators of their country, first by not opposing the US-led coalition and then by risking their lives to set their nation on a new path in the face of vicious terrorism.

It is time to see what is happening in Iraq on its own merits, not in the context of an irrational hatred of the United States and George W. Bush. Like it or not, President Bush has got one thing right: give any nation a chance to choose democracy and it will.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: amirtaheri

1 posted on 02/14/2005 3:26:16 PM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78

2 posted on 02/14/2005 3:30:44 PM PST by b4its2late (If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.)
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To: Pokey78

George Bushes fault


3 posted on 02/14/2005 3:35:37 PM PST by SF Republican
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To: Pokey78

bump


4 posted on 02/14/2005 3:37:41 PM PST by Eurotwit
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To: Pokey78
I heard a report over the weekend that the sunni's were mad at their leaders for promoting the boycott. Now they are out in the cold. Maybe they will now figure out that you don't mindlessly follow idiots tha don not have their welfare in mind.

HUMMM sort of like the dumocrats.

5 posted on 02/14/2005 3:40:05 PM PST by marty60
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To: Pokey78
"It is time to see what is happening in Iraq on its own merits, not in the context of an irrational hatred of the United States and George W. Bush. Like it or not, President Bush has got one thing right: give any nation a chance to choose democracy and it will."

The President's big dreams are taking shape and becoming reality. The Dims are falling apart.

I can't wait, until 2006, when the Dims fall apart even more. Our President is a Great One.

6 posted on 02/14/2005 3:41:41 PM PST by auggy (http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-DownhomeKY /// Check out My USA Photo album & Fat Files)
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To: Pokey78

BTT.


7 posted on 02/14/2005 3:43:02 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: Pokey78

That's a really good article!


8 posted on 02/14/2005 3:43:07 PM PST by GloriaJane ("How Many Babies Are Crying In Heaven Tonight" http://music.download.com/gloriajane)
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To: marty60

Now, think Democrats=Sunnis and think Dean=Mullah, and you can see better how they mindlessly follow idiots that don't have their welfare in mind.


9 posted on 02/14/2005 3:44:25 PM PST by BushisTheMan
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To: Pokey78

I think Iraq has dealt itself a pretty good hand. The parliamentary maneuvering is going to be fun to watch.


10 posted on 02/14/2005 3:47:12 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: Pokey78
P.N.A.C.'s Middle East strategy becoming a reality!

How much bad news can the Neocomms handle in such short notice...

11 posted on 02/14/2005 3:48:20 PM PST by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.)
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To: Pokey78

Ya hoo! Give Terrorists and despots (and Liberal Dimocrats) the Finger! VOTE!

Don't ya just LOVE being on the right side of history?


12 posted on 02/14/2005 3:49:54 PM PST by Danae (In waking a Tiger, use a long stick - R. Heinlein)
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To: SF Republican
George Bushes fault

Uh, you did get the memo on that?

It's a $50 donation to FR every time that stale cliche is posted.

Pay up!

13 posted on 02/14/2005 3:53:32 PM PST by don-o (Stop Freeploading. Do the right thing and become a Monthly Donor.)
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To: Billthedrill

Hi, I've been a Freeper for some time now but I still don't know what BTT means. What is it?

I tried looking for the FreeRepublic FAQ file but couldn't find it.

Thanks!


14 posted on 02/14/2005 4:34:31 PM PST by Edward Watson
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To: marty60
I heard a report over the weekend that the sunni's were mad at their leaders for promoting the boycott. Now they are out in the cold.

Schardenfreude

15 posted on 02/14/2005 4:41:05 PM PST by spokeshave (Strategery + Schardenfreude = Stratenschardenfreudery)
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To: Edward Watson
Hi Bill.....and welcome to FReeperville.

BTT means Bump To the Top......as a way of bringing the subject to higher visibility in the list of posts.

16 posted on 02/14/2005 4:42:53 PM PST by spokeshave (Strategery + Schardenfreude = Stratenschardenfreudery)
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To: spokeshave

AHH. So that's what it means. Thanks. I've been a freeper for three years or so and I never knew what it meant.


17 posted on 02/14/2005 5:09:08 PM PST by Edward Watson
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To: Pokey78; Neets; Darksheare; scott0347; timpad; Conspiracy Guy; NYC GOP Chick; MeekOneGOP; Fedora; ..

poke - thanks for posting this

y'all: the real spread. good info to have when belaboring doomsayers


18 posted on 02/14/2005 5:11:16 PM PST by King Prout (Remember John Adam!)
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To: don-o
It's a $50 donation to FR every time that stale cliche is posted.

No it's not... it's $1.00... I know, I read the thread.
It's still Bush's fault.
19 posted on 02/14/2005 5:17:10 PM PST by Safrguns (It's Bush's Fault I owe $8.00 to FR!!!)
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To: King Prout

20 posted on 02/14/2005 5:21:54 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP!)
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To: SF Republican

Yep. His fault, our fault, our allies fault, the troops fault, the Iraqi's fault...

But it's not the MSM's fault, the Liberals' fault saving a few, the U.N.'s fault, those countries that stabbed us in the back's fault, the anti-war protestor's fault, Hollywood's fault, the terrorists fault, the dictator's fault... LOL

I have faith. Faith that the critics are wrong, and we are right. The Iraqi people are going to be a good example to the entire world. Might help a few to remember what people so long ago fought and died to establish for US in this country.


21 posted on 02/14/2005 5:33:26 PM PST by Soul Seeker
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To: Pokey78
The US-led alliance used force to remove impediments to democracy.

A point that most seem to miss.

22 posted on 02/14/2005 5:38:01 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear ( At least now we know that migrating elephant herds react badly to flaming motor homes...)
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To: Soul Seeker
Might help a few to remember what people so long ago fought and died to establish for US in this country.

And that there were more then a few bumps on that road too. For some reason there is very little in depth study of the history of the US as it was being born.

We had a Revolution.

We wrote the Constitution.

Washington was elected.

Lewis and Clark.

Fought the War of 1812.

Fought the Civil War.

That is the way it is taught. You could be forgiven for thinking that things just flowed naturally. Of course it didn't. I think that sometimes the only thing that made us persist was the knowledge that everyone was waiting for us to fail.

Iraq now finds it's self in much the same position that we did. May their road be a little less harsh.

Because I tell ya, there is absolutely nothing that beats being able to thumb your nose at those who say, "You'll never make it."

23 posted on 02/14/2005 5:51:05 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear ( At least now we know that migrating elephant herds react badly to flaming motor homes...)
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To: Pokey78

24 posted on 02/14/2005 5:59:35 PM PST by StoneGiant
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear

Oh yeah.

That reward is largely what drives me to keep forward when people say it can't be done. They said peace in the middle east couldn't happen. They stated they were savages incapable of establishing a free government of the people, for the people, by the people. Surprise.

I find the critics of all sides to be great motivators.

Also, anyone interested in history should be observing Iraq (or Afganistan). It's as close to witnessing our nation's birth as we can come. Adds a layer of understanding to the facts of our nation's establishment. I'm finding the whole process fascinating as it unfolds.


25 posted on 02/14/2005 6:22:42 PM PST by Soul Seeker
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To: Safrguns; Edward Watson; spokeshave; b4its2late; Soul Seeker; Harmless Teddy Bear; King Prout

http://www.benadorassociates.com/taheri.php


26 posted on 02/14/2005 8:46:03 PM PST by Do not dub me shapka broham ("There is some sugar...It's harder in the case of fires. The tariffs are too high!")
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear

nicely said.
doesn't anyone remember the armed rebellions we had in the early years?


27 posted on 02/14/2005 8:55:36 PM PST by King Prout (Remember John Adam!)
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To: BushisTheMan; GloriaJane; Yardstick; DTogo; MeekOneGOP
Taheri hits the nail on the head, once again.

Kudos!

-good times, G.J.P.(Jr.)

28 posted on 02/14/2005 10:13:23 PM PST by Do not dub me shapka broham ("There is some sugar...It's harder in the case of fires. The tariffs are too high!")
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To: Do not dub me shapka broham; PhilDragoo; Happy2BMe; devolve
..... The overwhelming majority of Iraqis, however, see the Khomeinist regime in Tehran not as a model but as a warning. The Iraqi electorate has rejected not only Khomeinism but all other brands of extremism: the combined share of the votes for the most radical groups was puny. The party of Muqtada al-Sadr, the firebrand anti-American Shia cleric who was supposed to represent the angry Arab street, won just two seats.

One thing is sure: Iraq has been set on the road to democracy. This is going to be a bumpy road with many zigzags. But, provided the US-led coalition does not lose its nerve, but stays committed until the new Iraq can defend itself against its domestic and foreign foes, the Iraqi experience could inspire democratic change in other Muslim countries in the Middle East.

Good news bump/ping!


29 posted on 02/15/2005 7:00:07 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP!)
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To: King Prout
They don't teach that. Major freak out by teacher when I helped AC1 build a model farm complete with still and we set the story during the Whiskey Rebellion. (the assignment was Build a Early American Farm and write a story.)

They never teach that we seriously considered a Monarchy and offered the crown to three different people either.

If Washington had had natural born kids our history might have been very different. And on such small hinges swing the doors of history.

30 posted on 02/15/2005 4:05:35 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear ( At least now we know that migrating elephant herds react badly to flaming motor homes...)
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To: MeekOneGOP; Do not dub me shapka broham; Happy2BMe; devolve

31 posted on 02/15/2005 7:52:14 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: PhilDragoo
Heh, heh.

Khatami must succumb to the powers of the hot blond.

32 posted on 02/15/2005 11:02:20 PM PST by Do not dub me shapka broham ("There is some sugar...It's harder in the case of fires. The tariffs are too high!")
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