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View Full Version : Columnists in Saudi, Egyptian Dailies Delegitimize Democratic Process in Iraq



PoliCon
03-30-2010, 07:06 AM
Despite Iraq's March 7, 2010 democratic elections, prominent journalists in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and in the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya questioned the ability of the Arabs to maintain a democratic regime anywhere, let alone in Iraq. They argued that democracy is the result of a political culture diametrically opposed to the tribal Arab culture, which they noted is characterized by inherited power, sectarianism, and a reliance on blood ties factors which led to the failure of democratic experiments in Algeria, Palestine, and Sudan. They claimed that the elections in Iraq were an American fabrication, and a mere illusion of democracy.

Following are excerpts from articles on the subject:

Al-Arabiya Director-General: Iraq Elections are a Celebration That Will Never Be Repeated

'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, Al-Arabiya director-general and former editor of the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, stressed that Arab citizens fear democracy because of failed past attempts to institute it in the Arab world. He wrote: "Is Iraq's democracy contagious? Not at all. Quite the opposite. The autocratic regimes which exist in the region... are more capable of infiltrating minds and borders, and they are the ones that dominate the region today...

"I ask everyone not to fear the scenes of voting, the massive army of voters, the candidates' [campaign] announcements, the election [propaganda] promising change, and the fall and rise of local [political] elements [as a result of elections by Iraq's] citizens. This is an exceptional [democratic] celebration that will never be repeated in this region, because its birth pangs are so difficult, and there is no superpower in the world that can take it upon itself to sponsor or protect it.

"The Iraqi experience is the result of extraordinary circumstances. It [emanated] from the need to topple the Saddam Hussein regime, following the failure of civilian and armed oppositions, and of the plan to stage a coup or to poison [Saddam]. The new Iraqi regime was born in a pool of blood... The idea of imposing democracy is frightening and hated, and there is a regional consensus to fight it...

"The fear [is] that, in the future, the Iraqi leadership will catch the virus of autocracy not that democracy will infiltrate into the twenty nearby states. Democracy is [the result] of culture, of slow qualitative development, and it is a difficult task for a tribal societies where most people are illiterate or semi-illiterate. It is not easy for the Iraqi ruler to agree to give up his power simply because his term ended, or to risk his [political] life and turn to the people who will judge him [by means of] elections...

"Algeria, Sudan, and Palestine [represent] three democratic experiments that were crushed by force at a tender age, and [these countries] are now worse off than they were before. These experiments have made the public fear the concept [of democracy]. Then came the events of Iraq, making them tremble with fear that tomorrow they will be told to go out and vote!"[1]

Dr. Mamoun Fandy: Attempts at Democracy in Iraq and Lebanon A Contemptible Deception

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Dr. Mamoun Fandy wrote: "The elections in Iraq cause us Arabs to question whether democracy is possible in our countries, appearing from thin air. Iraq and Lebanon are two examples which have debunked the illusion of Arab democracy and the possibility that it will become a reality in our lifetime for those of us over the age of 40...

"The Iraqis are still talking about fraud in the [recent] elections. It seems that the entire world believes Saddam Hussein is dead and his regime has ended, yet the Iraqis themselves still act very much like the Ba'thists during Saddam's lifetime. [They have] inquisitorial courts in the form of Iraq's Accountability and Justice Commission, formerly known as the De-Ba'thification Commission, has [heretofore] prevented some 15 political bodies from running for the elections, claiming them to have Ba'thist roots... Is it logical for such Fascist acts to be carried out in this [new] entity that claims democracy as its future?

"Democracy is a long-term process, and it does not come into being overnight. To the world, the Iraqis today look like bats who have emerged from the darkness of dictatorship into the sunlight. The behavior of the De-Ba'thification Committee and others like it is identical to that of bats, who are not used to transparency and light...

"In terms of inherited [political power]... Iraq is no different from Lebanon or other neighboring countries. [Thus, for example,] 'Ammar Al-Hakim, [head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party], inherited the leadership from his father, 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Hakim, who himself inherited the leadership of the Supreme Council from his brother and father. Muqtada Al-Sadr likewise inherited [the leadership from] his father, Muhammad Sadeq Al-Sadr, despite Muqtada's young age and minimal political experience. Iraq... is inclined towards feudalism and sectarianism and not towards democracy...

CONTINUED (http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4069.htm?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook)