3.30.2006

The End of International Isolationism

Would the post-Cold War international system survive?

After 9/11, the international system underwent a serious failure as regards the international security and stability. The international dangers and threats took a different nature blowing up the so-thought international security after the end of the cold war. The new nature of the international dangers represented by the international terror and its nourishing structure and environments around the world imposed a necessary redefining of the "international border." This redefining is not an option, it is a must.

Therefore, the traditional notion and norm of sovereignty would be directly affected as natural integrated complements of the traditional international border perception in the systemic practice pattern within the international relations. Thereby, the Westphalian international system is undergoing a serious challenge; given my thinking that it lost the test through 9/11.

The state of the international border drove it toward the closure by the Westphalian international system at the basis of the responsibility of the state and guarded by "sovereignty." Currently, should the state began loosing this responsibility due to many factors, many describe them with globalization, and the trans-border terror is one clear example of this diminished responsibility, the international border would be driven toward openness by the international practice.

"Internal affair," the extremely important term in the international relations is subject to re-identifying because the internal situation is no longer just an internal concern and, thereby, an internal affair, it becomes an international concern too, especially after 9/11.

The change has begun and it is real now. One central aspect of this change is the revitalizing the values in the international relations after they was abandoned by the "abstract" Westphalian system. Given that the international insecurity or dangers represented by the trans-border and trans-national terror are inspired and carried by values, the counter-values are essential in the evolving international system and relations.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom I consider as an exceptional leader, has addressed the Foreign Policy Center in London with a very interesting and important speech. His speech is extremely illustrative and informative on the current realities and trends in the international arena and foreign policy after 9/11, highlighting the war on terror.

Mr. Blair adopted the term of "intervention," while I adopt the term of "neo-internationalism," which reflects more, in my view, the changing international realities. His term is more conservative than mine is, and this is normal considering the difference between a practitioner; his arena is power and an academic; his arena is thoughts.

Here are the key excerpts of Mr. Blair's speech; full speech available here.

"NOT A CLASH BETWEEN CIVILISATIONS, BUT A CLASH ABOUT CIVILISATION"

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER
RT HON TONY BLAIR MP

To The Foreign Policy Centre in association with Reuters
TUESDAY 21 MARCH 2006
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Over these past nine years, Britain has pursued a markedly different foreign policy. We have been strongly activist, justifying our actions, even if not always successfully, at least as much by reference to values as interests. We have constructed a foreign policy agenda that has sought to link, in values, military action in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq with diplomatic action on climate change, world trade, Africa and Palestine. I set out the basis for this in the Chicago speech of 1999 where I called for a doctrine of international community, and again in the speech to the US Congress in July 2003.

The basic thesis is that the defining characteristic of today's world is its interdependence; that whereas the economics of globalisation are well matured, the politics of globalisation are not; and that unless we articulate a common global policy based on common values, we risk chaos threatening our stability, economic and political, through letting extremism, conflict or injustice go unchecked.

The consequence of this thesis is a policy of engagement not isolation; and one that is active not reactive.

Confusingly, its proponents and opponents come from all sides of the political spectrum. So it is apparently a "neo-conservative" ie right wing view, to be ardently in favour of spreading democracy round the world; whilst others on the right take the view that this is dangerous and deluded - the only thing that matters is an immediate view of national interest. Some progressives see intervention as humanitarian and necessary; others take the view that provided dictators don't threaten our citizens directly, what they do with their own, is up to them.

(... )

The true division in foreign policy today is between: those who want the shop "open", or those who want it "closed"; those who believe that the long-term interests of a country lie in it being out there, engaged, interactive and those who think the short-term pain of such a policy and its decisions, too great. This division has strong echoes in debates not just over foreign policy and trade but also over immigration.

Progressives may implement policy differently from conservatives, but the fault lines are the same.

Where progressive and conservative policy can differ is that progressives are stronger on the challenges of poverty, climate change and trade justice. I have no doubt at all it is impossible to gain support for our values, unless the demand for justice is as strong as the demand for freedom; and the willingness to work in partnership with others is an avowed preference to going it alone, even if that may sometimes be necessary.

(... )

Neither in defending this interventionist policy do I pretend that mistakes have not been made or that major problems do not confront us and there are many areas in which we have not intervened as effectively as I would wish, even if only by political pressure. Sudan, for example; the appalling deterioration in the conditions of the people of Zimbabwe; human rights in Burma; the virtual enslavement of the people of North Korea.

I also acknowledge - and shall at a later time expand on this point - that the state of the MEPP and the stand-off between Israel and Palestine remains a, perhaps the, real, genuine source of anger in the Arab and Muslim world that goes far beyond usual anti-western feeling. The issue of "even handedness" rankles deeply. I will set out later how we should respond to Hamas in a way that acknowledges its democratic mandate but seeks to make progress peacefully.

So this is not an attempt to deflect criticism or ignore the huge challenges which remain; but to set out the thinking behind the foreign policy we have pursued.

(... )

It is in confronting global terrorism today that the sharpest debate and disagreement is found. Nowhere is the supposed "folly" of the interventionist case so loudly trumpeted as in this case. Here, so it is said, as the third anniversary of the Iraq conflict takes place, is the wreckage of such a world view. Under Saddam Iraq was "stable". Now its stability is in the balance. Ergo, it should never have been done.

This is essentially the product of the conventional view of foreign policy since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This view holds that there is no longer a defining issue in foreign policy. Countries should therefore manage their affairs and relationships according to their narrow national interests. The basic posture represented by this view is: not to provoke, to keep all as settled as it can be and cause no tectonic plates to move. It has its soft face in dealing with issues like global warming or Africa; and reserves its hard face only if directly attacked by another state, which is unlikely. It is a view which sees the world as not without challenge but basically calm, with a few nasty things lurking in deep waters, which it is best to avoid; but no major currents that inevitably threaten its placid surface. It believes the storms have been largely self-created.

This is the majority view of a large part of western opinion, certainly in Europe. According to this opinion, the policy of America since 9/11 has been a gross overreaction; George Bush is as much if not more of a threat to world peace as Osama bin Laden; and what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else in the Middle East, is an entirely understandable consequence of US/UK imperialism or worse, of just plain stupidity. Leave it all alone or at least treat it with sensitivity and it would all resolve itself in time; "it" never quite being defined, but just generally felt as anything that causes disruption.

This world view - which I would characterise as a doctrine of benign inactivity - sits in the commentator's seat, almost as a matter of principle. It has imposed a paradigm on world events that is extraordinary in its attraction and its scope. As we speak, Iraq is facing a crucial moment in its history: to unify and progress, under a government elected by its people for the first time in half a century; or to descend into sectarian strife, bringing a return to certain misery for millions. In Afghanistan, the same life choice for a nation, is being played out. And in many Arab and Muslim states, similar, though less publicised, struggles for democracy dominate their politics.

The effect of this paradigm is to see each setback in Iraq or Afghanistan, each revolting terrorist barbarity, each reverse for the forces of democracy or advance for the forces of tyranny as merely an illustration of the foolishness of our ever being there; as a reason why Saddam should have been left in place or the Taliban free to continue their alliance with Al Qaida. Those who still justify the interventions are treated with scorn.

Then, when terrorists strike in the nations like Britain or Spain, who supported such action, there is a groundswell of opinion formers keen to say, in effect, that it's hardly surprising - after all, if we do this to "their" countries, is it any wonder they do it to "ours"?

So the statement that Iraq or Afghanistan or Palestine or indeed Chechnya, Kashmir or half a dozen other troublespots is seen by extremists as fertile ground for their recruiting - a statement of the obvious - is elided with the notion that we have "caused" such recruitment or made terrorism worse, a notion that, on any sane analysis, has the most profound implications for democracy.

The easiest line for any politician seeking office in the West today is to attack American policy. A couple of weeks ago as I was addressing young Slovak students, one got up, denouncing US/UK policy in Iraq, fully bought in to the demonisation of the US, utterly oblivious to the fact that without the US and the liberation of his country, he would have been unable to ask such a question, let alone get an answer to it.

There is an interesting debate going on inside government today about how to counter extremism in British communities. Ministers have been advised never to use the term "Islamist extremist". It will give offence. It is true. It will. There are those - perfectly decent-minded people - who say the extremists who commit these acts of terrorism are not true Muslims. And, of course, they are right. They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian. But, unfortunately, he is still a "Protestant" bigot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it.

(... )

Just as it lets go unchallenged the frequent refrain that it is to be expected that Muslim opinion will react violently to the invasion of Iraq: after all it is a Muslim country. Thus, the attitude is: we understand your sense of grievance; we acknowledge your anger at the invasion of a Muslim country; but to strike back through terrorism is wrong.

It is a posture of weakness, defeatism and most of all, deeply insulting to every Muslim who believes in freedom ie the majority. Instead of challenging the extremism, this attitude panders to it and therefore instead of choking it, feeds its growth.

(... )

I recall the video footage of Mohammed Sadiq Khan, the man who was the ringleader of the 7/7 bombers. There he was, complaining about the suppression of Muslims, the wickedness of America and Britain, calling on all fellow Muslims to fight us. And I thought: here is someone, brought up in this country, free to practise his religion, free to speak out, free to vote, with a good standard of living and every chance to raise a family in a decent way of life, talking about "us", the British, when his whole experience of "us" has been the very opposite of the message he is preaching. And in so far as he is angry about Muslims in Iraq or Afghanistan let Iraqi or Afghan Muslims decide whether to be angry or not by ballot.

There was something tragic, terrible but also ridiculous about such a diatribe. He may have been born here. But his ideology wasn't. And that is why it has to be taken on, everywhere.
This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don't mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.

But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists.

The roots of global terrorism and extremism are indeed deep. They reach right down through decades of alienation, victimhood and political oppression in the Arab and Muslim world. Yet this is not and never has been inevitable. (... )

This is not the place to digress into a history of what subsequently happened. But by the early 20th century, after renaissance, reformation and enlightenment had swept over the Western world, the Muslim and Arab world was uncertain, insecure and on the defensive. Some countries like Turkey went for a muscular move to secularism. Others found themselves caught between colonisation, nascent nationalism, political oppression and religious radicalism. Muslims began to see the sorry state of Muslim countries as symptomatic of the sorry state of Islam. Political radicals became religious radicals and vice versa. Those in power tried to accommodate the resurgent Islamic radicalism by incorporating some of its leaders and some of its ideology. The result was nearly always disastrous. The religious radicalism was made respectable; the political radicalism suppressed and so in the minds of many, the cause of the two came together to symbolise the need for change. So many came to believe that the way of restoring the confidence and stability of Islam was the combination of religious extremism and populist politics.

The true enemies became "the West" and those Islamic leaders who co-operated with them.

The extremism may have started through religious doctrine and thought. But soon, in offshoots of the Muslim brotherhood, supported by Wahabi extremists and taught in some of the Madrassas of the Middle East and Asia, an ideology was born and exported around the world.

The worst terrorist act was 9/11 in New York and Washington DC in 2001, where three thousand people were murdered. But the reality is that many more had already died not just in acts of terrorism against Western interests, but in political insurrection and turmoil round the world. Over 100,000 died in Algeria. In Chechnya and Kashmir political causes that could have been resolved became brutally incapable of resolution under the pressure of terrorism. Today, in well over 30 or 40 countries terrorists are plotting action loosely linked with this ideology. Its roots are not superficial, therefore, they are deep, embedded now in the culture of many nations and capable of an eruption at any time.

The different aspects of this terrorism are linked. The struggle against terrorism in Madrid or London or Paris is the same as the struggle against the terrorist acts of Hezbollah in Lebanon or the PIJ in Palestine or rejectionist groups in Iraq. The murder of the innocent in Beslan is part of the same ideology that takes innocent lives in Saudi Arabia, the Yemen or Libya. And when Iran gives support to such terrorism, it becomes part of the same battle with the same ideology at its heart.

True the conventional view is that, for example, Iran is hostile to Al Qaida and therefore would never support its activities. But as we know from our own history of conflict, under the pressure of battle, alliances shift and change. Fundamentally, for this ideology, we are the enemy.

Which brings me to the fundamental point. "We" is not the West. "We" are as much Muslim as Christian or Jew or Hindu. "We" are those who believe in religious tolerance, openness to others, to democracy, liberty and human rights administered by secular courts.

This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy. It is just that; it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong.

And this is why the position of so much opinion on how to defeat this terrorism and on the continuing struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East is, in my judgement, so mistaken.

It ignores the true significance of the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact is: given the chance, the people wanted democracy. OK so they voted on religious or regional lines. That's not surprising, given the history. But there's not much doubt what all the main parties in both countries would prefer and it is neither theocratic nor secular dictatorship. The people - despite violence, intimidation, inexperience and often logistical nightmares - voted. Not a few. But in numbers large enough to shame many western democracies. They want Government decided by the people.

And who is trying to stop them? In Iraq, a mixture of foreign Jihadists, former Saddamists and rejectionist insurgents. In Afghanistan, a combination of drug barons, Taliban and Al Qaida.

In each case, US, UK and the forces of many other nations are there to help the indigenous security forces grow, to support the democratic process and to provide some clear bulwark against the terrorism that threatens it. In each case, full UN authority is in place. There was and is a debate about the legality of the original decision to remove Saddam. But since May 2003, the MNF has been in Iraq under a UN resolution and with the authority of the first ever elected Government. In Afghanistan throughout, UN authority has been in place.

In both countries, the armed forces and police service are taking shape so that in time a democratically elected government has, under its control, sufficient power to do the will of the democratic state. In each case again, people die queuing up to join such forces, determined whatever the risk, to be part of a new and different dispensation.

Of course, and wholly wrongly, there are abuses of human rights, mistakes made, things done that should not be done. There always were. But at least this time, someone demands redress; people are free to complain.

So here, in its most pure form, is a struggle between democracy and violence. People look back on the three years since the Iraq conflict; they point to the precarious nature of Iraq today and to those who have died - mainly in terrorist acts - and they say: how can it have been worth it?

But there is a different question to ask: why is it so important to the forces of reaction and violence to halt Iraq in its democratic tracks and tip it into sectarian war? Why do foreign terrorists from Al Qaida and its associates go across the border to kill and maim? Why does Syria not take stronger action to prevent them? Why does Iran meddle so furiously in the stability of Iraq?

Examine the propaganda poured into the minds of Arabs and Muslims. Every abuse at Abu Ghraib is exposed in detail; of course it is unacceptable but it is as if the only absence of due process in that part of the world is in prisons run by the Americans. Every conspiracy theory - from seizing Iraqi oil to imperial domination - is largely dusted down and repeated.

Why? The answer is that the reactionary elements know the importance of victory or defeat in Iraq. Right from the beginning, to them it was obvious. For sure, errors were made on our side. It is arguable that de-Baathification went too quickly and was spread too indiscriminately, especially amongst the armed forces. Though in parenthesis, the real worry, back in 2003 was a humanitarian crisis, which we avoided; and the pressure was all to de-Baathify faster.

But the basic problem from the murder of the United Nations staff in August 2003 onwards was simple: security. The reactionary elements were trying to de-rail both reconstruction and democracy by violence. Power and electricity became problems not through the indolence of either Iraqis or the MNF but through sabotage. People became frightened through terrorism and through criminal gangs, some deliberately released by Saddam.

These were not random acts. They were and are a strategy. When that strategy failed to push the MNF out of Iraq prematurely and failed to stop the voting; they turned to sectarian killing and outrage most notably February's savage and blasphemous destruction of the Shia Shrine at Samarra.

They know that if they can succeed either in Iraq or Afghanistan or indeed in Lebanon or anywhere else wanting to go the democratic route, then the choice of a modern democratic future for the Arab or Muslim world is dealt a potentially mortal blow. Likewise if they fail, and those countries become democracies and make progress and, in the case of Iraq, prosper rapidly as it would; then not merely is that a blow against their whole value system; but it is the most effective message possible against their wretched propaganda about America, the West, the rest of the world.

That to me is the painful irony of what is happening. They have so much clearer a sense of what is at stake. They play our own media with a shrewdness that would be the envy of many a political party. Every act of carnage adds to the death toll. But somehow it serves to indicate our responsibility for disorder, rather than the act of wickedness that causes it. For us, so much of our opinion believes that what was done in Iraq in 2003 was so wrong, that it is reluctant to accept what is plainly right now.

What happens in Iraq or Afghanistan today is not just crucial for the people in those countries or even in those regions; but for our security here and round the world. It is a cause that has none of the debatable nature of the decisions to go for regime change; it is an entirely noble one - to help people in need of our help in pursuit of liberty; and a self-interested one, since in their salvation lies our own security.

Naturally, the debate over the wisdom of the original decisions, especially in respect of Iraq will continue. Opponents will say Iraq was never a threat; there were no WMD; the drug trade in Afghanistan continues. I will point out Iraq was indeed a threat as two regional wars, 14 UN resolutions and the final report of the Iraq Survey Group show; that in the aftermath of the Iraq War we secured major advances on WMD not least the new relationship with Libya and the shutting down of the AQ Khan network; and that it was the Taliban who manipulated the drug trade and in any event housed Al Qaida and its training camps.

But whatever the conclusion to this debate, if there ever is one, the fact is that now, whatever the rights and wrongs of how and why Saddam and the Taliban were removed, there is an obvious, clear and overwhelming reason for supporting the people of those countries in their desire for democracy.

I might point out too that in both countries supporters of the ideology represented by Saddam and Mullah Omar are free to stand in elections and on the rare occasions they dare to do so, don't win many votes.

Across the Arab and Muslim world such a struggle for democracy and liberty continues. One reason I am so passionate about Turkey's membership of the EU is precisely because it enhances the possibility of a good outcome to such a struggle. It should be our task to empower and support those in favour of uniting Islam and democracy, everywhere.

To do this, we must fight the ideas of the extremists, not just their actions; and stand up for and not walk away from those engaged in a life or death battle for freedom. The fact of their courage in doing so should give us courage; their determination should lend us strength; their embrace of democratic values, which do not belong to any race, religion or nation, but are universal, should reinforce our own confidence in those values.

(... )

This is, ultimately, a battle about modernity. Some of it can only be conducted and won within Islam itself. But don't let us in our desire not to speak of what we can only imperfectly understand; or our wish not to trespass on sensitive feelings, end up accepting the premise of the very people fighting us.

The extremism is not the true voice of Islam. Neither is that voice necessarily to be found in those who are from one part only of Islamic thought, however assertively that voice makes itself heard. It is, as ever, to be found in the calm, but too often unheard beliefs of the many Muslims, millions of them the world over, including in Europe, who want what we all want: to be ourselves free and for others to be free also; who regard tolerance as a virtue and respect for the faith of others as part of our own faith. That is what this battle is about, within Islam and outside of it; it is a battle of values and progress; and therefore it is one we must win.
ENDS

Some related posts:

-Rice, Foreign Policy and Promoting Freedom

-Promoting Freedom and Democracy is a Vital Part of the War on Terror

-The bases of the U.S. Mideast policy

-Terror and Democracy in the Middle East

-Iraq and Lebanon: Ongoing Liberation

-The Besieged Lebanon

-Thoughts by Nassim Yaziji

3.20.2006

A Moment of Glory: Operation Iraqi Freedom

In honor of this occasion, when the winds of change and liberation began blowing in the Middle East; when the freedom bell began ringing; when the long aspiration for freedom and dignity began its path into reality, I will repost my article Iraq Victory: Middle East Salvation, which had been quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer.


IRAQ VICTORY: MIDDLE EAST SALVATION

The U.S. will not abandon Iraq.

To me, it means that the U.S. will not abandon the Middle East. Some recent stances and statements in the U.S urging to quit Iraq have shocked me. I find it, and I am sorry for this expression, extremely irresponsible, and definitely harming U.S. interests and the Middle East democratization movement.

I definitely look positively at any deliberate prospective troops reduction, but setting a timetable of withdrawal, such as U.S. giving up, would blow up the reform movement and the liberal renaissance in the Middle East after Iraq and Lebanon. Furthermore, that would also blow up the American interests and credibility in the region. Jeopardizing all that for some political gains is something approaching treason.

The Americans must clearly know that this war in Iraq is a requisite for ensuring the 21st century as an American century. The post-cold war chaotic international order is dying because it is no more able to tackle world problems and the new dangers and serious threats endangering the U.S. and the rest of world, especially since 9/11. Pre-empting those dangers and threats, adapting to the changing geopolitics of the world and reacting to it, ensuring the American interests wherever in the world and creating the foundations of a new consistent, coherent and competent international order are requisites for an American century and American-guaranteed international peace and stability.

What has been done after the world war ΙΙ is something alike, so what is happening now after 9/11. When Europe was geopolitically the heart of the world, America moved to Europe and fought there with ideas and forces to restore and maintain peace and stability. Europe is no longer the heart of the world; the strategic center is moving eastward to the Middle East. The Middle East now is a key region to security, energy and world geopolitics -– as a strategic location to approach the rising powers and future rivals, China and India.

Iraq has become the base of transforming the Middle East and eliminating the authoritarianism and totalitarianism with the democratic shine and the western back up. Furthermore, Iraq is becoming the real base of changing the geopolitics of the region and replacing the old Middle East regional system with a new one, more modern, transparent, democratic and integrated with the world, ending the cold war era and the Soviet legacy in the region.

The consequent new Middle East is a key factor in the process of development of the new world order, which would cope with world stability, security and progress. We are facing a historic challenge and task, so we should apply a relevant and responsible approach.

The war in Iraq is the war of the Middle East. It is a war of ideas and powers. The fearful totalitarian terrorist regimes are fighting the United States in Iraq as a symbol of fighting and intimidating the spreading free world after the cold war, to destroy the democratic perspective and to surround freedom in their countries.

The war is worthy of all the sacrifices that have been made, and victory is inevitable, and not so far away. Those brave soldiers in Iraq are ensuring America's security and interests for decades to come and getting our freedom dream in the Middle East a reality, which is turning into international objective and necessity.

Let freedom blow.

U.S. Democracy Promotion, a Round-up

Here is a recent policy watch of the U.S. efforts and attitudes concerning democracy promotion worldwide:

(Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

State Department Releases 2005 Human Rights Country Reports

Democratic countries now better able to address problems, report says

Countries in which power is concentrated in the hands of rulers that cannot be held accountable for their actions were among those cited as having the poorest records on human rights in the U.S. Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released March 8.

Such regimes, which include the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea), Burma, Iran, Zimbabwe, Cuba, China and Belarus, seriously restrict fundamental human rights enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion and movement, the State Department said in the introduction to the report.

“The growing demand for democratic governance reflects a recognition that the best guarantor of human rights is a thriving democracy with transparent, accountable institutions of government, equal rights under the rule of law, a robust civil society, political pluralism and independent media,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in introducing the report.

Fulfilling the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and building lasting democracies worldwide is urgent work that cannot be delayed, Rice said. ”We … hope that the reports will be a source of information and inspiration to the noble men and women across the globe who are working for peaceful democratic change.”

REPORTS INTENDED TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY WORLDWIDE

The 2005 reports, which provide analyses of the human rights situations in 196 countries, are designed to assess human rights conditions worldwide. The reports, according to the introduction, demonstrate that the United States is committed “to working with other democracies and men and women of goodwill across the globe to reach an historic long-term goal: “ ‘the end of tyranny in our world.’”

The introduction summarizes human rights improvements in the Balkans, Colombia and the Great Lakes region of central Africa, which encompasses the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Although human rights violations and miscarriages of justice occur in democratic countries, “countries with democratic systems provide far greater protections against violations of human rights than do non-democratic states, ” according to the State Department. Further, human rights and democracy are closely linked, and both are essential to long-term stability and security.

SOME COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR PROGRESS ON HUMAN RIGHTS

In 2005, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Indonesia, Lebanon and Liberia made major progress toward democracy, democratic rights and freedom.

Yet a disturbing number of countries across the globe passed or selectively applied laws against the media and nongovernmental organizations, including Cambodia, China, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Belarus. Syria refused international calls to respect the fundamental freedoms of its people and did not cooperate fully with the U.N. International Independent Investigative Commission on the assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

Russia adopted a restrictive new law on nongovernmental organizations and, by the end of 2005, all independent nationwide television stations had been taken over either by the state or by state-friendly organizations.

“A robust civil society and independent media help create conditions under which human rights can flourish by raising awareness among publics about their rights, exposing abuses, pressing for reform, and holding governments accountable,” the State Department reported.

Countries with worsening human rights records and overall climates of lawlessness and corruption include Sudan, Nepal, Cote d’Ivoire, Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia’s Northern Caucasus region.

The purpose of the reports is not only to bring to light human rights achievements and violations but to illuminate future tasks and the potential for greater cooperation in advancing the aspirations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The reports show human rights flourish in countries that promote democracy, said Paula J. Dobriansky, under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs.

“The furtherance of democracy, by definition, advances individual rights and freedoms by increasing people's ability to shape their government, their society and the decisions which affect their daily lives,” Dobriansky said at the March 8 briefing.

Transcripts of the secretary’s remarks and Dobriansky’s briefing are available on the State Department Web site.

The full text of the 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices is available on the State Department Web site.

Human Rights Reports Key to U.S. Foreign Policy, Official Says

State's Lowenkron discusses Russian NGO law, Chinese Internet censorship

The State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are especially important to advancing U.S. foreign policy goals, says Barry F. Lowenkron, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.

“It gives a very good picture of the human rights practices of each country,” Lowenkron said in a March 6 interview with the Washington File.

“This is important because the United States carries out a foreign policy that has a strong human rights component to it. That has been part of the fabric of the nation. Congress mandated this well over 30 years ago.”

The annual human rights reports are congressionally mandated by a 1976 amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which requires the secretary of state to transmit to Congress “a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights” in countries receiving U.S. security assistance.

Following the report’s delivery to the U.S. Congress, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to present the reports to the public at a press briefing on March 8. The report examines the status of human rights in 2005 in 196 countries.

Lowenkron said the increasing trend of governments regulating nongovernmental organization (NGO) activity, such as the new NGO law in Russia, and censoring Internet content, especially in China, is of particular concern.

“The problem with the NGO law is it tries to do something that is antithetical to democracy. It’s democracy top-down,” Lowenkron said of the law signed by President Vladimir Putin on January 10. The law increases the Russian government's oversight of the registration, financing and activities of NGOs in Russia. The United States is concerned that the new Russian law will be used to hinder the work of NGOs.

The U.S. focus on the issue of Internet censorship is not going to go away, Lowenkron said.

“I have told my Chinese counterparts that there is tremendous public interest as well as congressional interest in it in the United States,” he said.

The assistant secretary said the newly formed Global Internet Freedom Task Force, chaired by Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky and Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs Josette Shiner, including State Department officials in international communications policy, human rights, democracy, business advocacy and corporate responsibility, will be working with U.S. businesses, NGOs, the European Union and other governments to address Internet freedom issues.

The task force will make recommendations to Secretary Rice on policy and diplomatic initiatives, Lowenkron said. (See related article.)
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Democracy-Building Key To Fighting Terrorism, Rice Says

Secretary also stresses importance of fighting poverty

By Peggy B. Hu
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The spread of democracy around the world is essential to defeating terrorism, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a town hall meeting with students in Sydney, Australia, March 16.

"Now, in times of challenge we need to remember that freedom and equality, democracy and opportunity, human dignity and individual rights are at the core of who we are. They make us greater than our small selves, and they summon us to defend our way of life whenever that way of life is attacked," she said.

The secretary said that the United States and Australia support the cause of democracy, not "because we think ourselves perfect," but "because we know ourselves to be imperfect, with long histories of our own failures and false starts in our quest for just and perfect democracies."

According to Rice, the United States and Australia -- and other democracies around the world -- are now engaged in "a struggle of many decades that will require patience, and courage, and yes, sacrifice."

"Like every other war that our alliance has waged, the war on terrorism must be fought with the force of arms when necessary -- but it will not be won by force of arms alone. As in our struggles against communism, and Nazism, and militarism, it is the force of human freedom that will ultimately defeat an ideology of hatred and violence," she said.

According to Rice, democracy helps prevent terrorists from gaining a foothold in society by providing a voice for the disadvantaged.

If you think about the roots of terrorism, she said, "if you think about what they are really drawing recruits from … it is the hopelessness and the absence of freedom that gives them [terrorists] an opportunity to speak ... in these extreme ways on behalf of the disaffected."

"If, instead, people who are disaffected, people who have concerns, people who have complaints, people who have been disadvantaged in one way or another, have legitimate channels through which to go to address their grievances, I cannot believe that it will be more popular to make your children suicide bombers than to send them to university," she said.

FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY

The secretary also discussed the importance of fighting poverty.

According to Rice, President Bush "has been a very big proponent of foreign assistance." She said that since the beginning of the Bush administration, the United States has increased its official development assistance by half, tripling assistance in Africa and doubling assistance in Latin America.

"There is a very deep commitment in this administration to making life better for the poor and for those who live still in poverty," she said. She warned, however, that the provision of such aid "can only really take place in the context of accountable governments and democratic governments, because we know what happens when that assistance goes to those who don't govern wisely.

"We know what happens when that assistance goes to those who are corrupt. We know what happens when that assistance goes to those who are not accountable to their own people. And so democracy and development go hand in hand and that's how we see the fight to defeat this ideology of hatred that breeds terrorism."

MIDDLE EAST

In response to a question regarding the Palestinian election of Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, Rice said, the international system has to hold fast to two principles. "The first is that if you are elected, you have to govern democratically. In other words, being elected and then starting to subvert democratic institutions is not acceptable.

"Secondly, if you are elected, you have an obligation to recognize that you can't have one foot in terrorism and one foot in the political process. In other words, the gun and the ballot can't go together. And that is the discussion, that is the requirement, that is being placed before Hamas at this point," she said.

"[D]emocracy is ... more than just having elections. It's also institutions. It's also rule of law. It is also the ability of democracies to deliver for their people," Rice said.

RUSSIA

On Russia, Rice said the international community should be concerned about "the centralization of power in the Kremlin."

"I say to my Russian colleagues very often that no democracy survives without checks and balances and countervailing institutions, whether it's a strong parliament or an independent judiciary or political parties," the secretary said.

Rice said the United States has been trying to encourage Russia "to allow civil society to develop, to allow political parties to develop, to allow ... a truly free press, to have an independent judiciary and to have a parliament that has an independent say."

"The progress is not even and there have been some setbacks and some reverses," she said.

Rice said she hopes the Russian people "will find their voice to demand accountable, transparent institutions and to demand the ability to organize themselves to petition their government and, if necessary, to change their government peacefully through democratic process. After all, that's what the essence of democracy is."

The secretary said that excluding Russia from "institutions in which these values are paramount," such as the Group of Eight (G8) or the NATO-Russia Council, will not encourage democracy.

"I do think we have to continue to speak loudly for the development of Russian democracy and to say to Russia that that is what is expected of a country that is a great power and that at least has started down this road," she said.

A transcript of Rice’s remarks is available on the State Department Web site.
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Liberty, Democracy Best Antidotes to Hatred, Terrorism, Rice Says

Secretary of state says 2007 Foreign Affairs Budget would support effort

Washington -- The spread of liberty and democracy is the best antidote to the ideologies of hatred that feed terrorism, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, and proposed 2007 U.S. foreign affairs spending supports the spread of freedom.

She told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, the Department of State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies March 9 that many people in the Middle East and South Asia only now are acquiring a free voice and moving toward constructing stable democracies.
In the Palestinian Territories, Rice said, a free and fair election has resulted in the victory of Hamas, a terrorist organization. While expressing support for continued humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, Rice said no U.S. funding would go to Hamas.

Rice praised recent elections in Haiti and Liberia, where the first woman president on the continent of Africa has been elected, saying the United States would support “their transitions to democracy and stability.”

The secretary also called Iran an “acute” challenge, but indicated that its determination to develop nuclear weapons was matched by the international community’s resolve to prevent that from happening. Iran's support for terrorism is also a destabilizing presence throughout the region, she added.

While working with the international community to bring Iran's nuclear program to the attention of the United Nations Security Council, Rice said, the administration has asked for supplemental funding “to reach out to the Iranian people with broadcasting, with educational and cultural activities, and with support for nongovernmental organizations.”

Regarding Sudan, Rice said that Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick is in Europe to gain support for an African Union decision to make its current peacekeeping mission in Sudan a United Nations effort. That would allow for a more robust security presence in Darfur, she said. Moreover, she said President Bush hopes that NATO would lend logistical support to such a U.N. operation.

Rice also said the president’s recent trip to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan spotlighted three nations that once were thought to form an “arc of crisis” and a region doomed to conflict. Today, she said, India and Pakistan have a comprehensive dialogue under way, and Afghanistan is a fledgling democracy. She also said that the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement not only will put India’s civilian nuclear apparatus under international safeguards, but also will help that burgeoning economy have access to clean and plentiful energy.

The full text of Rice’s prepared remarks is available on the State Department Web site.
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Bush Calls for Full Cooperation on U.N. Hariri Investigation

President says Lebanese militias must be disbanded

President Bush reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to ensuring that the U.N. investigation into the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri moves forward.

Bush told a reporter for Lebanon’s Future Television March 9 that the United States has no intention of cutting a deal with the Syrian government and turning a blind eye to its lack of cooperation with the U.N. investigation in exchange for concessions on Syrian support for terrorism in Israel, Lebanon and Iraq.

“Our position is, is that we want to know the truth and we expect all parties to be forthcoming with the truth,” he said.

The president also reaffirmed U.S. support for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the disbanding of all Lebanese militias. “[Y]ou can't have a democracy if political parties have their own armed force,” he said. “Our position is that the Lebanese forces ought to be in control of the security of Lebanon, for the good of the people.”

Bush did not weigh in on the campaign to oust Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, who won an extended mandate in 2004 following a Syrian engineered revision of the Lebanese constitution, but he said he believes a president should be someone who is “independent-minded” and “understands that foreign influences inside of a country can be very negative.”

Bush said he looks forward to a future of peace and democracy in the Middle East. “My dream is for there to be a Palestinian state at peace with Israel. My dream is for Lebanon's democracy to flourish. My hope is that Iraq's democracy will serve as an example for others, and so people can realize their potential. And I believe this is going to happen,” he said.

Rice Urges Lebanese Leadership To Disband Domestic Militias

Secretary of state praises Lebanon's efforts to re-establish democracy

Washington -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed the United States’ support for Lebanon’s efforts to re-establish full sovereignty and democracy and said she believes the Lebanese leadership will embrace full implementation of a U.N. Security Council resolution dealing with the country’s political transition.

Speaking to reporters in Beirut, Lebanon, February 23, Rice expressed confidence “that within the context of the transition that is going on here that the Lebanese leadership truly understands the responsibilities to the full implementation of Resolution 1559 and that includes the disbandment of militias.”

The Security Council adopted Resolution 1559 in September 2004, prior to presidential elections in which a Syrian-engineered constitutional amendment allowed Emile Lahoud to extend his term of office. In addition to calling for free elections without foreign intervention, the resolution urged respect for Lebanese sovereignty and independence, the withdrawal of all foreign forces, the disbanding of all militias and the extension of Lebanese government control over the full territory of the country.

Even though some of the demands in the resolution have been met, the Hezbollah militia continues to operate in Lebanon. Recently, Lebanese parliamentary leader Michel Aoun signed an agreement with Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, outlining conditions under which they believe Hezbollah should be allowed to retain its weapons.

Reacting to questions about the demands in Lebanon for Lahoud’s resignation, Rice said, “Lebanon will resolve the situation in ways that are consistent with Lebanon's desire to be a democracy in which all can participate and a democracy that is looking to its future.”

Rice also said Syria must comply with the U.N. inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Speaking to reporters while en route to Lebanon after meetings with leaders in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Rice said there should be a “common voice” urging Syria to cooperate with the U.N. probe into the assassination. “I think there will be more messages delivered to Syria about the importance of cooperation,” she said, adding that she planned to discuss the issue in the United Arab Emirates, her final stop in the region.

Rice also said in the en route briefing that Lebanon has made “enormous strides” since the death of Hariri, including mobilizing the international community to get Syrian forces out of Lebanon, beginning to build their own security forces, having an election and moving towards economic reform.

Transcripts of Rice’s briefing en route to Lebanon and her remarks with the Lebanese prime minister are available on the State Department Web site.
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State's Welch Calls for Expansion of Democracy in Tunisia

Tunisia should expand democracy, human rights protection and free enterprise, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs C. David Welch said March 15.

"Every country undertakes these reforms at its own pace and in its own context. Not to move forward is to go backward," Welch said in a press conference in Tunis, Tunisia.

The assistant secretary called on Tunisia to respect the right of free and peaceful assembly, allow civil society to expand through the registration of new nongovernmental organizations and media and permit free access to an open Internet.
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Rice Lauds Indonesia's "Vibrant Democracy"

En route to Jakarta, secretary also discusses Middle East, democracy-building
Indonesia has made "giant strides" toward democracy in recent years, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will be visiting that country during the next few days.

Speaking to the press March 12 during a refueling stop in Brazil, Rice cited Indonesia's democratic elections and improved relations with East Timor as examples of concrete signs of success. "[T]he people of Indonesia seem to be coming together around religious tolerance, ethnic diversity and democracy," she said.

As a result, the United States has been able to reinstate military-to-military relations, which had been suspended for a number of years due to human rights abuses in Indonesia, Rice said.

The secretary emphasized the importance of maintaining contacts with the people who are going to be important to restoration of democracy. President Yudhoyono, who currently leads Indonesia today, was a graduate of the U.S. International Military Education Program, she noted.

"[T]he military is an important institution in Indonesia," Rice said. "It's by no means completely made its reforms, but we believe those reforms are under way and that we can have a more positive effect on those reforms by being connected to it."
Indonesia will be the second stop on the secretary’s planned three-nation tour. Rice attended the inauguration of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet March 11 and, following her visit to Indonesia, will travel to Australia to represent the United States in a three-way security dialogue with Australia and Japan.

DEMOCRACY BUILDING, THE MIDDLE EAST

Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world, is highly interested in Israeli-Palestinian issues and the Middle East, according to the secretary. Rice called the recent Palestinian democratic elections "a good thing, and the Palestinian people are to be congratulated for carrying out those democratic elections."

She acknowledged the elections did bring to power Hamas, which the United States regards as a terrorist organization. "[B]ut I think it was the Palestinian people voting for change from a government that had not served their interests to hopes for a better future," Rice said.

That "better future" must include a peaceful resolution of the conflict, the secretary said. She added that the United States "remains absolutely committed to a two-state solution" and "to a better life for the Palestinian people." (See The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.)

Rice spoke of the difficulties of establishing democracies. "There's an assumption here that somehow you can neatly build civil society, neatly build the habits of democracy, then you take off the authoritarian hat and everything's in place for democracy to rise. I just don't think it works that way in the real world.

"Rather," she continued, "I think what you see is that you have to unleash the forces of democratic change -- that's very often through elections -- recognizing that you may not fully have in place the institutions to create the kind of moderate states in the middle that you would like, but you have to unleash those forces and then you have to work very hard to continue to build those institutions of civil society.

"And yes," the secretary acknowledged, "there are going to be some outcomes that we don't like."
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U.S. Wants New Negotiations on U.N. Human Rights Council

Ambassador Bolton contacting delegations over deficiencies in current plan

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The United States wants to reopen negotiations on the draft resolution establishing a United Nations Human Rights Council, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said February 27.

"My instructions are to reopen the negotiations and to try and correct the manifold deficiencies in the text of the resolution or alternatively to push off consideration of the resolution for several months," Bolton told journalists.

"We are very disappointed with the draft … we don't think it's acceptable," Bolton said of the draft resolution presented February 23 by General Assembly President Jan Eliasson. (See related article.)

If the General Assembly president brings the resolution to the plenary in the next few days, the ambassador said, the United States "will call for a vote and vote no."

The United States is prepared to stand alone in voting against the draft resolution, Bolton said.

Eliasson has said that he hopes the resolution will be adopted by consensus the week of February 27.

A spokesperson for the General Assembly president said that a number of member states have indicated that they still are awaiting responses from their capitals to the draft resolution.

Pragati Pascale, the president's spokesman, said Eliasson would not comment on Bolton's remarks and has received no formal communication from the United States.

Eliasson, Pascale said, still feels it "is important to move to closure as soon as possible on this issue to enable a smooth transition when the Human Rights Commission meets in March. Reopening negotiations is not likely to produce a better outcome and there is nothing to be gained by waiting."

Bolton said U.S. diplomats are contacting other delegations "making it plain … we want to reopen the negotiations and have real international negotiations and correct the deficiencies in the current draft."

"We remain committed to trying to convince other nations that cosmetic reform alone is not sufficient, that we need real change in the way the U.N. decision making mechanism functions," the ambassador said.

"We wanted effective change in the Human Rights Commission, which was obviously broken beyond repair," the U.S. ambassador said.

RECIPE FOR REPEATING MISTAKES OF THE PAST

Mark Lagon, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, said February 23 that the United States is unwilling “to settle for something that is just a change in name and schedule."

Particularly, the United States wants "to make sure the procedures for electing members and for disqualifying the most bloodthirsty regimes in the world are established so that we turn a page in the history of the Commission on Human Rights -- which has done much good but which has lost credibility by becoming a body of not just firefighters but arsonists."

David Schwarz, who has served as a public delegate on three U.S. delegations to the Commission on Human Rights, said that without setting clear objectives and verifiable membership criteria and requiring a comprehensive review of each prospective member's human rights record before elections, the new Human Rights Council "could drift back toward the situation that crippled the commission." (See related article.)

Leaving key issues unresolved or not addressing the structural problems that led to the dysfunction of the commission "is not a fix or a solution but a recipe for repeating the mistakes of the past," Schwarz said.

The draft resolution would establish a 47-member Human Rights Council elected by a majority of U.N. members. Every new member would undergo a human rights review.

The United States is pressing for a council of about 30 members elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly.

Lagon said that a two-thirds majority would set "a high bar for election" and boost the credibility of the council's membership. "All candidates, including the U.S., would have to work hard to be elected," he said.

A smaller council than the current 53-member commission "would be more nimble in developing a common vision and taking action," Lagon continued. The United States also would like to see the council meet four times a year, with extra sessions as needed.

In addition, the United States supports doubling the budget of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with the additional resources and increased personnel to be used to enhance field operations, Lagon said.

For additional information, see United States and U.N. Reform.
----------------------------

Iran the "Central Banker for Terrorism" in Middle East, Rice Says

By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Even if Iran suspends its nuclear enrichment activities, the United States would be unlikely to agree to bilateral talks, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

During a March 9 roundtable in Washington with Australian, Indonesian and Latin American journalists, Rice said "Iran has been the country that has been in many ways a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions like Lebanon through Hezbollah in the Middle East, in the Palestinian Territories, and we have deep concerns about what Iran is doing in the south of Iraq."

Should Iran agree to drop its nuclear ambitions, she said, "that isn't a quid pro quo for anything. It just needs to be done because it's a demand of the international system."

"I don't foresee any reason for broader talks with the Iranians. We have our channels," Rice said. She emphasized that U.S. efforts to isolate the Iranian regime do not extend to the Iranian people. "We want to continue to reach out to the Iranian people in any way possible, which is why we have asked for more resources for broadcasting, more resources for educational and cultural exchanges," she said.
----------------------------


America Will Lead World to Victory Against Terrorism, Cheney Says

Vice president pledges to stop Iranian nuclear weapon, expresses support for Iranian people
Washington -- The best hope against terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons is the continued commitment of America and its allies to expanding freedom throughout the world, says Vice President Cheney.

“The terrorists have declared war on the civilized world, and America will lead the civilized world to victory,” the vice president told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee March 7.
Cheney said that terrorists aim to seize control of a country from which they can start destabilizing an entire region.

As in Afghanistan, Cheney said, “They seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to a narrow, hateful ideology.

“The terrorists have targeted people of every nationality and every religious faith, including Muslims who disagree with them,” said Cheney, adding, “The war on terror is a fight against evil; victory in this war will be a victory for peaceful men and women of every religious faith.”

Their ultimate goal, he said, is to acquire chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons for use in future attacks. (See related article.)

Calling the government in Iran one of the world's primary state sponsors of terror, Cheney said, “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

As the International Atomic Energy Agency meets to deliberate on Iran’s nuclear program, Cheney said the “international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences” if Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons. (See related article.)

However, the vice president expressed America’s support of the Iranian people. “The people of Iran,” he said, “can be absolutely certain that we respect them, their country, and their long history as a great civilization -- and we stand with them.

“Freedom in the Middle East requires freedom for the Iranian people," Cheney said, “and America looks forward to the day when our nation can be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.”
---------------------------------


Bush, Pakistan's Musharraf Recap Democratic, Economic Progress

Both presidents reaffirm close partnership between the United States, Pakistan

By Melody Merin
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- U.S. President Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf expressed their commitment to ongoing mutual support and partnership between the United States and Pakistan in a March 4 press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Musharraf said that he and President Bush had revived and strengthened the relationship between the two nations. "We have laid the foundations of a very strong, sustainable, broad-based and long-term relationship between Pakistan and United States," he said.

Both presidents praised Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism, to resolve the Kashmir conflict with India, to revive its economy and to install a democratic government.

Bush specifically paid tribute to Pakistan’s alliance with the United States in fighting terrorism. "Pakistan has lost brave citizens in this fight. We're grateful to all who have given their lives in this vital cause. We honor the Pakistanis who continue to risk their lives to confront the terrorists," he said.

Sharing good intelligence is key to locating and defeating al-Qaida terrorists, according to President Bush. He added that Pakistani’s agreement to join the Container Security Initiative, a U.S. program intended to improve security at U.S. ports, helps to prevent the spread of dangerous materials and reduce the threat of terrorism.

Regarding the Pakistan-India conflict over the Kashmir region, Bush said that progress has been made in the last five or six years. He praised the leadership of President Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and their efforts to quell the tension between both countries, and encouraged all involved parties to continue working to resolve this and other issues.

The U.S. and Pakistani leaders also discussed rebuilding Pakistan’s economy in the wake of the October 2005 earthquake that devastated portions of the country.

"Part of the tangible evidence of our relationship is the half-a-billion-dollars commitment to help this country rebuild," said Bush. The U.S. president added that Samuel Bodman, U.S. secretary of energy, has been tapped to help evaluate and restore Pakistan’s energy supply.

The U.S. president also pledged to work "on a bilateral investment treaty that will encourage foreign investment and more opportunity for the people of Pakistan." Specifically, he supported Musharraf’s vision of a reconstruction opportunity zone in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan where products manufactured in those zones would be eligible for duty-free entry into the United States.

ADVANCING DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN

Advancing democracy in Pakistan was another subject highlighted by both Musharraf and Bush during the press conference.

According to Musharraf, "We have empowered the people of Pakistan now -- they were never empowered before -- by introducing a local government system where we have given the destiny of their areas for development, for welfare, for progress in their own hands through financial, political and administrative involvement." As examples, he cited recent steps to empower women and minorities, to expand press freedom, and to protect individuals; right to free speech.

President Bush reiterated the need for Pakistan to maintain an "open and honest" election and reaffirmed the commitment of the United to States to work with Pakistan "to lay the foundations of democracy."

The transcript of the press conference is available on the White House Web site.
---------------------------


Rice Acknowledges Egypt's Democratic Advances, Despite Setbacks

U.S. secretary of state meets with Egyptian prime minister, foreign minister

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Egypt February 21 that the United States has no right to be “arrogant” in discussions about democracy, but democracy is a basic right that the United States will continue to address in its discussions with other nations.

“[T]he United States, as much as any country, has no reason to be arrogant about democracy and a reason for humility,” she said during a press conference following her meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “It was in my lifetime, and I'm not that old -- in my lifetime -- that the right to vote was guaranteed to African Americans in the South, so we've been through our own struggles with democracy.”

During her visit to Egypt in June 2005, Rice gave a speech urging Egypt to lead the Middle East in democratic political reform. She said Egypt has seen tremendous changes in the eight months since that speech. (See related article.)

“We have to realize that this is a parliament that is fundamentally different than the parliament before the elections, a president who has sought the consent of the governed,” she said.

Egypt held its first multicandidate presidential race in September 2005. In parliamentary elections in November 2005, opposition candidates won more seats than in any previous vote.

Rice said, however, that there have been disappointments and setbacks in Egypt's democratic experience, which she discussed with Egyptian officials “as a friend, not as a judge.” She identified the arrest and prosecution of political opposition leader Ayman Nour as one of these disappointments. She said she would discuss the political setbacks with representatives of Egyptian civil society February 22 to find out “what more can be done to be helpful to them.” (See related article.)

The secretary said that transforming a closed political system into a pluralistic democracy is a long, difficult process, but added, “however hard the journey is to democracy, it is worth it and it is the only system in which human beings can fully flourish.”

She also said democracy would necessarily take a different form in every country.

“[O]ur aspiration is not that people will have an American-style democracy. American-style democracy is for Americans. But that there will be a democracy that is for Egypt or for Iraq or for any other people on this earth,” she said.

Rice said her discussions with the foreign minister and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif also touched on the new Palestinian government and the Iranian nuclear issue. She thanked the Egyptians for taking the lead in discussions with Hamas to make clear the international community’s expectations that the new Palestinian government demonstrate a commitment to peace with Israel, adhere to existing agreements between the Palestinians and the Israelis and renounce terror.

Regarding Iran, she said she spoke about the need “for the international community to remain united in insisting that Iran take a reasonable course in terms of the development of civil nuclear power.”

She stressed that the international community has no desire to deprive Iran of civil nuclear power.

“We're not questioning civil nuclear power. They can have it. They just can't have enrichment and reprocessing capability because no one trusts them with that very important technology which could lead to a bomb,” she said.
-----------------------------------

United States Welcomes Release of Political Prisoners by Tunisia

State Department urges Tunisia to take more steps to expand democratic freedoms

The United States welcomes the release of 1,657 political prisoners by the Tunisian government and encourages Tunisian authorities to take further actions toward expanding democratic freedoms, according to a statement March 1 from State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli.

Ereli's statement expressed regret that the Tunisian government banned a peaceful demonstration February 24 by legal opposition parties.

Following is the text of Ereli's statement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
March 1, 2006

STATEMENT BY ADAM ERELI, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN

United States Welcomes Tunisian Release of Political Prisoners

The United States welcomes the announcement by the Government of Tunisia that it has freed 1,298 prisoners and granted conditional parole to 359 others. Some of these 1657 prisoners, including 70 members of the banned An-Nahda party, the editor of the Islamist newspaper Al-Fajr, and two groups condemned to long prison terms after looking at suspect websites, had been described by human rights NGO's and independent political observers as political prisoners.

The United States encourages the Government of Tunisia to continue to take further actions consistent with its declared intentions to engage in greater democratic reform. We look to Tunisia to accelerate reforms that create a more open and vibrant political space in which all parties, civil society organizations, and released prisoners can operate more freely. In this context, the United States regrets the Tunisian government's decision to ban a peaceful demonstration on February 24 by legal opposition parties and similar moves to limit the ability of those parties to express their views.
(end text)
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State's Hughes Announces New Initiatives for Mideast Businesswomen

Under secretary announces initiatives during visit to United Arab Emirates

Washington -- Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes unveiled two initiatives on supporting Middle Eastern business women during a visit to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) February 19.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has selected the United Arab Emirates as the site for the second Business Women's Summit scheduled for November, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi reported on its Web site. The first Middle Eastern businesswomen's summit took place in Tunis, Tunisia, in 2005.

The second initiative involves training in business and information technology for UAE women by Microsoft and the Institute for International Education with funding from MEPI, the embassy said.

MEPI, which was launched in 2002, offers numerous programs throughout the Middle East to support the advancement of democracy, free markets, education and women's empowerment.

For additional information, see Middle East Partnership Initiative.
----------------------

Some related posts:

-U.S. Announces Syria Democracy Program

-U.S. Democracy Promotion, a Round-up

-U.S. Democracy Promotion, a Round-up

-Bush Will Not Retreat, U.S. To Advance Freedom

-Bush, Americans and Spreading Democracy

-Rice, Foreign Policy and Promoting Freedom

-WORLD FREEDOM 2005

-The Realities of Promoting Democracy

-Promoting Freedom and Democracy is a Vital Part of the War on Terror

-The bases of the U.S. Mideast policy

-Terror and democracy in the Middle East

-U.S. National Intelligence Strategy Highlights Democracy Promotion

-Iraq and Lebanon: Ongoing Liberation

News Concerning Middle East Reform

This is the news section of the current issue of the Arab Reform Bulletin Published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Iraq: Government Formation Delayed

Formation of a new Iraqi government has been stalled due to a political deadlock following an upsurge in sectarian violence after an attack on a Shiite shrine in Samarra on February 22. Iraq's parliament delayed its first session until March 16 because of disagreements over the choice of a prime minister. According to the constitution, the prime minister is selected from the parliamentary bloc with the most seats, in this case the United Iraqi Alliance, which won 130 parliamentary seats in the December 2005 elections. The Shiite bloc has resisted demands from Kurdish and Sunni politicians that it withdraw Ibrahim Al Jaafari as candidate for prime minister in Iraq's new government on the grounds that he failed to improve the situation in the year he served as interim prime minister. For their part, the main Kurdish coalition chose current President Jalal Talabani as their candidate for the presidency and Sunni groups are still discussing candidates for the post of speaker of parliament.


Lebanon: National Dialogue Launched

Political leaders initiated a series of “National Dialogue” meetings on March 2 to discuss pressing issues that have divided the Lebanese political scene into anti- and pro- Syrian camps since the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Items on the agenda include the investigation into Hariri's assassination, Lebanon's relations with Syria, and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for free and fair presidential elections and the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. The meetings bring together the leaders of fourteen political groups including Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Future Movement parliamentary leader Saad Hariri, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Free Patriotic movement leader Michel Aoun, Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel, Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri. So far, politicians have agreed on tasking the government with following up on the creation on an international tribunal to try the suspects in the investigation, on disarming Palestinian factions outside refugee camps within six months, and on establishing full diplomatic ties with Syria. They have also agreed that the Shebaa Farms—an Israeli- occupied border area that the UN says is Syrian unless Beirut and Damascus amend their border—is Lebanese territory. Two of the most controversial issues remain unresolved: the U.N. call for the disarmament of Hizbollah and the fate of President Emile Lahoud, whose mandate was extended under Syrian pressure for three years in 2004. The anti-Syrian majority in parliament has repeatedly called for Lahoud to step down since Hariri's assassination.


Jordan: New Laws, Leadership Change in the Muslim Brotherhood

Prime Minister Marouf Al Bakhit announced that a draft political party law will be submitted to parliament before the end of the current session on March 30. Under the proposed legislation, an independent body composed of members of the judiciary and the ministers of justice and political development would take over the task of granting party licenses from the interior ministry. The draft also introduces state funding to political parties in accordance with the number of seats won in parliamentary or municipal elections. The draft continues to penalize parties for obtaining foreign funding, which the government claims allows parties to fall under external influence.

A draft municipal elections law is also expected to be submitted to parliament. According to government officials, the new law would introduce a 20 percent quota for women and would redraw current municipal boundaries. Jordan's largest political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), opposes the quota on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and underestimates the ability of Jordanian women to win in a free race. The IAF is also opposed to redrawing municipal divisions because it would increase the number of governmental appointees to municipal posts; the 2003 Municipal Law allows the government to appoint the head of every council as well as half of its members. No final date has been announced for municipal elections scheduled to take place in 2006.

In another development, Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood elected a new leader on March 4. Salem Al Fallahat, member of the Muslim Brotherhood Shura (Consultative) council for four consecutive terms, was chosen general supervisor for a four-year term, replacing Abdul Majid Thneibat who held the post for twelve years and declined to stand for reelection. Jamil Abu Bakr, a prominent figure in the movement, was named deputy general supervisor.

Palestine: Constitutional Court Challenged

In its first session since being sworn in, the new 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council voted on March 6 to revoke all legislation passed by the previous parliament in its final session on February 13, including a new law that gave President Mahmoud Abbas the authority to appoint a new constitutional court without seeking legislative approval. Hamas, whose Change and Reform list won 74 seats in the January elections, strenuously objected to the legislation on the grounds that it would effectively give Abbas veto power over new laws, as judges would be empowered to decide whether laws approved by the new parliament were constitutional. Sixty-nine of 120 present MPs voted to revoke the laws and Fatah members withdrew in protest. It is unclear whether the revocation of the court will stand.


Syria: Closure of Human Rights Center; New U.S. Democracy Promotion Grant

On March 5, the Syrian government closed the country's first human rights center barely a week after it was established by the Belgium-based Institute for International Assistance and Solidarity with the aim of offering legal advice and training on human rights issues. According to the government, the center was closed because it had not received official permission to operate. Syrian security forces detained Ammar Qurabi, spokesman for the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria, upon his arrival at Damascus airport on March 12. Click here for more details on the case.

The U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) announced on February 17 that it will grant $5 million to organizations in Syria promoting democratic practices such as the rule of law, government accountability, access to independent sources of information, freedom of association and speech, and free, fair and competitive elections. Grants are expected to range from $100,000 to $1,000,000. The group of Syrian opposition parties and activists known as the Damascus Declaration stated they would not accept U.S. funds because doing so would damage their credibility in Syria.


Egypt: Crackdown on Judges, Press, Muslim Brothers
On February 16, Egypt's Supreme Judiciary Council stripped four senior judges of immunity in order to question them about accusations against other judges of fraudulent activities during 2005 parliamentary elections. Mahmoud Al Khodairi (Vice Chairman of the Court of Appeals and Chairman of the Alexandria Judges Club), Ahmed Meki (Vice Chairman of the Court of Cassation), Hesham Bastawisi, and Mahmoud Meki (both members of the Court of Cassation) have also led the call for the Supreme Judiciary Council to be replaced by an elected body and have criticized the government's laxity in investigating charges of fraud and assaults on citizens and judges in the parliamentary elections. Several other judges also have been called in for questioning. The move was widely seen in Egypt as an attempt by the government to exert pressure on the judges given their increasingly confrontational stances regarding judicial independence. The case reportedly has been referred to the Ministry of Justice, and it is unclear whether the judges will face prosecution or disciplinary measures.

Tension is also on the rise between the Egyptian government and the press in light of recent court rulings against journalists facing prison time in libel cases. On March 7, a criminal court sentenced journalist Amira Malsh to one year in prison on charges of libeling a judge in a story published in the independent weekly Al Fagr in July 2005. On February 23 an appeals court upheld a one-year prison sentence given to Abdel Nasser Al Zuhairi, a journalist with the independent daily Al Masry Al Youm, convicted of libeling the country's former environment minister. Al Zuhairi and two colleagues from the same paper were also ordered to pay US$1,745 in damages to the minister. The events have prompted appeals for the 1996 law criminalizing libel to be repealed, which President Hosni Mubarak promised to do two years ago. Egypt's Press Syndicate has called for a general assembly on March 17 to review the situation.

Egyptian authorities arrested approximately twenty members of the Muslim Brotherhood during the first week of March after temporarily shutting down the Afaq Arabiya weekly, a publication known as the group's mouthpiece.


Algeria: Amnesty Law Implemented

The Algerian government announced on March 1 that it will release approximately 2,600 Islamists detained during Algeria's 1990s conflict. As part of this initiative, Algerian authorities released 150 prisoners on March 4 and the deputy-chairman of the banned Islamic Front for Salvation (FIS) Ali Belhadj on March 6. Belhadj was arrested in July 2005 on charges of encouraging terrorism; he had previously served a twelve-year term with FIS chairman Abbasi Madani. The releases come after the Algerian government approved on February 21 the implementation of the provisions in the National Peace and Reconciliation Charter, an amnesty law proposed by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to grant exemption from prosecution to any member of an armed group for crimes committed in the civil conflict that began in 1992. Proposed by Bouteflika in 2000 and approved by 97 percent of voters in a September 2005 referendum, the charter provides amnesty for all security forces who fought against armed Islamic groups, shields from criminal prosecution members of these groups who surrender their weapons in the next six months unless they participated in “mass murder, rape or the use of explosives in public places,” and provides for compensation of victims' families. A joint statement by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the International Federation for Human Rights argues that the decree consecrates impunity for crimes under international law and will muzzle debate about Algeria's internal conflict.


Libya: New Prime Minister

A March 6 cabinet reshuffle replaced Libya's Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem, considered an economic reformer, with his more conservative deputy Baghdadi Al Mahmoudi. Appointed prime minister in June 2003, Ghanem faced opposition from hardliners in the Libyan regime who opposed his market-oriented economic plan to rationalize the government subsidy system and privatize state companies. Ghanem has been appointed head of the National Oil Corporation. The cabinet reshuffle created seven new ministries: agriculture, transportation, education, health, housing, social affairs and industry, and electricity.


Kuwait: New Press Law

The Kuwaiti parliament approved a new press law on March 6 by unanimous vote of the 53 MPs present at the session. The law, which replaces the 1961 press and publications law, will become effective when the government issues its bylaws in six months. The new law prohibits the arrest and detention of journalists until a final court verdict is delivered by the Supreme Court and allows citizens whose applications for newspaper licenses are rejected to sue the government in court (the 1961 law gave applicants the right to appeal only to the government itself). While the new law prohibits the closure of publications without a final court verdict, publications may be suspended for up to two weeks for investigation. It also bans jailing journalists for all but religious offenses, criticisms of the emir, and calls to overthrow the government, stipulating up to one year in jail for these offenses and fines ranging between US$17,000 and US$70,000.


United Arab Emirates: First Human Rights Association

The United Arab Emirates' first official human rights association was established on February 18 with the aim of “respecting and enforcing human rights according to the state's laws and constitution.” Led by former Ambassador Muhammad Al Duhaim, the organization will be based in Abu Dhabi.


Yemen: Release of Al Houthi Supporters

President Ali Abdullah Saleh pardoned 627 supporters of the late Shiite cleric Hussein Badreddine Al Houthi on March 6. The prisoners were accused of participating in Al Houthi's armed rebellion in northwest Yemen beginning on June 18, 2004.

3.04.2006

Thoughts by Nassim Yaziji

These are some thoughts of mine gathered from several academic exchanges:

The scientific quality of political science

I want to point out that the political phenomenon needs, after identifying it, to make sense a conceptual frame or approach applied by the watcher (the political scientist) which will consequently formulate the sense of the phenomenon. This applies to the all natural phenomena, especially in physics where this question is more clearer. Therefore, in the pursuit to find out about the rules and laws of these phenomena and the generalizations in the social sciences the abstraction is essential. For doing so, the mathematical representation is the primary means but it is significantly restricted with respect to the complex social systems including the political sphere. To handle this situation, means was invented and the methodology became indispensable.

That is to say that making conclusions from empirical studies of wide range in time and place, as the raw material to be the world in some centuries, is something doubtful and in question. To deal with that, in my view, we have to be more specialized in pursuit to minimize the complex social system in study. The more our study targets a wide scope (more complex system) the more our findings go to be probabilities rather than conclusions. Another tool we need is the simplification, which is a conventional scientific rule. For example, it could be said, that the trans-borders dangers (terror) associated with values and ideas imply the violence should be countered by trans-borders policy associated with values and ideas imply peacefulness and compromise like the democracy promotion policy. The elaboration including details and tactics are the consequent steps if the primary thinking was adopted.

Democratization and peace

I do think that the democracy per se is a stabilizing system through embedding the peaceful means, strengthening freedom, isolating political violence and providing advanced political structures of governance, compromise and public rights and obligations. The electoral process is a technique serving the representation question in legislating and governing. Without a sustainable and institutionalized integrated system of political rights and responsibilities, public freedoms, political accountability and transparency -- all guaranteed by the rule of law -- the essential electoral process in the democratic system would be just an adapted technique to be integrated into a political system, Russia and Iran for example. I would never call the semi-authoritarian or the "liberalized authoritarian" systems, or whatever, a democracy.

The transitional period between the authoritarianism and democracy could not have the same features in the different times, places, settings and surrounding environments considering the international input and the regional setting. Furthermore, we need to consider the superiority to the state as a polity over the shape of the governance system. Therefore, I refuse the generalization in predicting the war trends in the transitional periods. To me, the free people choose life and prosperity.

Political System and Peacefulness

I frequently face this problem that many western researchers, who did not ever experience the authoritarian system, cannot recognize many facts on it. The totalitarianism is a system based on violence, in which the violence becomes the real and dominant value, which with time turns into an integrated system and becomes a culture. This value, practically, forms and constructs the whole institutions of the state and society (those become one entity identified by/with the political power) because it is only the cause of maintaining the existence of the state (power) at the inside and outside level and ultimately becomes the source of legitimacy.

Hence, it is familiar that only the totalitarian regimes support and encourage the transnational terror and eagerly pursuit the WMD and other violent means in the international politics. On the contrary, in democracies the system of compromise and peaceful means replaces the system of violence. The violence in democracies – more precisely the coercion -- is only usable to maintain and keep the system itself at the domestic and international level.

The totalitarian regime makes its foreign policy on the considerations of his interior policy. It is a matter of fact and necessity that the interior and foreign policies should be consistent because they represent and belong to the same decision-making system, values and interests, and intend to maintain those, which are the intrinsic structure of the regime in power. Moreover, the authoritarian regime is totally aware of the indispensability of the compatible foreign context for the sustainability of its rule.

Balance of Power and the International Stability and Security

I endorse the realist theory of the international relations about the balance of power. In maintaining systems, especially at the international level, what matters is the balance of power but at the status quo level not the dynamic one because any change or new player would change the whole equation. It is indispensable to identify the powers on the scene and to define the system to be maintained. Do the totalitarian terrorist regimes and organizations in the Middle East, like Iran's and the Ba'ath party, perceive the international stability as the U.S. or EU besides the international community? And is the international realm the same after 9/11?

The transnational terror, which is a new international trans-border power in the realistic sense, needs a new balance of power to restore the international stability and peace. The counter trans-border power is promoting freedom and democracy to isolate and alter its nourishing environment and consequently destroy it in addition to the terror's political supporters (always totalitarians and authoritarians) through international effort, and that what is supposed to be the international system of stability and peace.

Can authoritarianism maintain peace?

On the "peace of cold war," I can say that the calm is something different from peace. What peace we can talk about where the Soviet Union is occupying many countries in Europe and Asia and maintaining this occupation with every violent means possible. Is that of the international peace? The calm between the two super powers is not the international peace. Besides, that system because of its structural distortion and defects could not be sustained and finally came to breakdown, which might be catastrophic. As what was happened to the balances of 19th century until the semi-peace at end of the world war ΙΙ and the European democratic peace nowadays. The freedom and democracy have key importance in the evolution and the dynamics of the international comprehensive systems towards more peace, stability and prosperity.

Totalitarianism and Terror

The totalitarianism constitutes one system. The totalitarianism has one nature in many aspects and shapes; it pragmatically develops a reciprocal structure and unified means under a consistent code of conduct—all rest on violence. Apart from ideologies, religious or not, the problem has one name, one identity and one essence; it is the totalitarianism. A comprehensive reading of the current state of the region between the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf will clarify and support this thinking.

The totalitarian dictatorships and terrorists are in an alliance of convenience. Although they have two different ideologies and agendas, they have mutual basic interest and pursuit is to keep freedom and democracy along with their culture out of this region.

Saddam had known this fact early and began soon after his defeat in the gulf war ΙΙ the Islamization of the state notwithstanding the official totalitarian secular ideology of al-Ba'ath. Moreover, he had a chance of about 12 years to do that without serious pressure targeting directly his regime to end his rule or to change the course. Finally, that produced an extraordinary fertile environment to terror. May history teach us? Given it frequently repeats itself.

To achieve peace, security and prosperity in the Middle East, there must be, first, a serious course of action aimed at the totalitarianism in the Middle East. This course of action is indispensable first step in the long march of democracy there. Moreover, targeting totalitarianism is an indispensable action in the war on terror to get the terrorists isolated with no cover or facilities or nourishing sources.