February 27, 2005
— Ace I'm starting to think that maybe this really is a paradigm shift:
Academics and members of the appointed consultative council in the United Arab Emirates came out in favor of elections in the Persian Gulf state, arguing that it could not stay out of the regional trend toward elected bodies.
When millions of Arabs in Palestine, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have gone to the polls, the UAE cannot continue to lag behind, Professor Abdul Khaleq Abdullah of the UAE University told the English-language daily Khaleej Times.
Atiq Daka, a professor of political science at the UAE University, told AFP: "Our country is now the only member of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) which has yet to catch up with the political opening up under way in the Arab world. Even countries we thought incapable of political change, such as Saudi Arabia, are now ahead of us."
"We are certainly ahead (of other countries in the region) at the economic and trade levels. But we should also lead the way on the political front," Daka said.
"How come that we encouraged Iraqis to take part in elections and hosted Iraqi elections on our soil while even officials of sports clubs in our country are appointed?" Daka asked.
"We need not just municipal and legislative elections, but also transparency in terms of freedom of expression and total independence of the judiciary," said Abdullah Shamsi, also a political science professor.
"Political institutions must be given real powers ... if elections are not to be worthless," he told AFP.
Geeze... what if it works?
Thanks to JimW and Protein Wisdom for the tip.
And Now Egypt: Via Insty:
In a surprise announcement Saturday, Egypt's long-ruling president, Hosni Mubarak, ordered constitutional changes that would open the door for the first-ever multiparty presidential elections in the world's most populous Arab country. The move is the latest indication of a cautious democratic shift under way in the Arab world.
This is starting to get crazy.
I have to say that at the beginning of this effort, I harbored hopes that Iraqi democracy would spark a wildfire of pro-democratic reforms throughout the Middle East. Since then, I've become far less sanguine.
While it's great in theory, when are they going to wake up and realize it's not for everyone?
Posted by: Ray Midge at February 27, 2005 10:39 AM (pDhcC)
Posted by: Ray midge at February 27, 2005 10:46 AM (pDhcC)
Egypt and Iran, for example, have been having elections for some time and are still largely unfree. The elections in Palestine and SA are nothing to get too excited about either.
Posted by: Some Guy at February 27, 2005 11:04 AM (ODlEV)
Democracy in theory and practice are two different things. It's stupid to bring race into it though.
Posted by: Some Guy at February 27, 2005 11:07 AM (ODlEV)
Posted by: TallDave at February 27, 2005 11:43 AM (H8Wgl)
You're right. People need to be reminded that even Iraq had democracy, though it was of a variant producing 100% suppport for Saddam. ( Curious 'democracies', those.)
This is not to say that we shouldn't be cautious about the changes occurring. Egypt's is small after all. And it remains to be seen how/whether the changes will actually be implemented to its present 'democratic' system.
Yes, you do well to remind of the need for circumspection with regard to these new hopes for democracy, but it would seem the people who need this circumspection regarding 'democracy' the most are the Arabs now clamoring for it themselves. Calm down guys!
Posted by: Ray Midge at February 27, 2005 11:45 AM (pDhcC)
One of the things that pissed me off about the debate before the Iraq war was that critics would never address the neo-con strategy as they explained it. The only people who taked about it seriously were folks at the Weekly Standard and National Review. You never heard any talk about the plan to introduce political change throughout the MidEast via Iraq anywhere else.
Then when no WMDs were found, the critics said "It was all a lie!" even though you know full well they would have opposed invading Iraq even if it had WMDs. Then when the other rationale is explained (bringing infectious political change to the region), same critics said "YOU NEVER SAID THAT BEFORE THE WAR!"
It's so hard trying to talk to those people.
Posted by: Moonbat_One at February 27, 2005 01:55 PM (p2G9i)
I think we share a basic scepticism towards democracy in the Mid-East.
I'd rather see people in the West skeptical (but supportive) and people in the mid-East eager towards democracy. Since the existing powers in the mid-East are already so entrenched, healthy but marginal reform is likely all thats going to come about. If there's no grass roots push in the ME than likely nothing will change.
I think even among neo-cons they never tried to justify the invasion on, an intellectal level, on the grounds of bringing democracy to the Arab world; but rather that bringing democracy to the Arab world was an important secondary benefit of invasion. Some may have personally cared about that more than WMD but I don't think that was their intellectual justification.
Posted by: Some Guy at February 27, 2005 05:58 PM (ODlEV)
I would further disagree with the notion that now is the time for chin-stroking circumspection over that prospect. These events over the last few weeks and days, in all the countries above, make me almost giddy. My deepest hope is that we are seeing a fundamental change, one that once seemed unthinkable on almost the scale of the Berlin Wall coming down. Are we witnessing the first few cracks in that wall? Is this such a moment in history?
Maybe. Time will tell, but till it does, I'll wear my absurd, outsized hopes on my sleeve. Certainly those people pressing for democracy there don't see now as the time for circumspectness. They are filled with grander sentiments.
Posted by: Ray Midge at February 27, 2005 06:23 PM (pDhcC)
Oops. I missed the sarcasm.
Well we both hopefully fundamental change is arriving in the mid-East. But realistically I think it will take years, and maybe decades.
Posted by: Some Guy at February 28, 2005 08:34 AM (JU9jt)
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