6.28.2006

The Neo-Internationalism After 9/11

After 9/11, the international order has failed in terms of security when the world super power became under attack followed by many other attacks throughout the world. This incident indicates a new nature of the international dangers and threats exceed the 'state borders' and the related international norms and standards. Furthermore, the '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 in the post-9/11 reality. Then, what I call the 'Neo-Internationalism' is sought and called for. This 'Neo-Internationalism' represents a state of international relations in which the democratic interventionism is required and legitimate for the international security and prosperity, and for forming an international order can cope with the international challenges and maintain the international security, peace and prosperity.

I think of the international order as an ultimate guarantee of the international democratic peace, when the freedom and democracy replace the 'chaos' of the post-cold war international order. I know that the very nature of the 'international order' enables the international order to maintain an existing democratic peace rather than to impose it. But, however, the international order may give the international acknowledgement to the worldwide aspirations for democracy and freedom besides the auxiliary and supporting institutions for the democratic transformation.

Promoting freedom and democracy in the world, especially in the authoritarianism's heaven the Middle East, the region that still lives the era of the cold war and the Soviet legacy, has become of the U.S. national security after 9/11 to tackle the international terror and its nourishing structure and environments around the world. And so I read the intervention in Iraq and the democratic pursuit in the Middle East. The success of promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East has a key effect on the probabilities of the emergence of a new international order acknowledges the international right to freedom and democracy and supports, in some ways, their promotion.


Middle East Democratization

I think that to reform the Middle East we have primarily to change the regional status quo and the geopolitics of the Middle East. This objective needs to be accomplished an international effort rests on the international standards which normally compiled by the international order, considering the fact that the post-cold war international order is neither designed nor provided for this task. The way is paved for this process after the necessary change in Iraq.

Any change at the level of the international norms and conduct needs to be preceded with preliminary and justifying thought and discourse supported by the international powers. This process is what I think is under way through the current American efforts along with the Bush's Forward Strategy of Freedom.

The reform of the Middle East, in my view, has two pillars, the civil society in the Middle East and the international policies—the international relevant input. Without any of those, I think this task is unrealistic.

After the liberation of Iraq and along with the Bush's Forward Strategy of Freedom, the Arab region has been witnessing a new kind of political phenomena concerning the political life, democratic rights and human rights. Some scholars call this political phenomenon the Arab spring.

I think that the key point of this phenomenon is the end of stagnancy in the political life, and therefore, the change in the status quo at the political, social and intellectual levels. This status quo is the effect of the political authority, which is mainly backward, ignorant and authoritarian. It intends this status quo and maintains it with stagnancy using the authoritarian violent means to preserve its monopoly of political power whatever the costs are.

This stir is indispensable for the political change and democratization in the region, which did not ever experience but authoritarianism. The entire political system in the authoritarian Arab state rests on violence and stagnancy, the absence of any pillar of these would reshape the political system and put the authority at awkward challenge to cope with that. The regime here may resort to violence to restore its stability in governance. The international environment and the international input into the situation would determine the fate of the regime's pursuit.

We do not have yet the sufficient expertise and scientific knowledge to predict on the future and processes of the resulted political change and effects in the Middle East. It is indispensable to observe the realities and developments of this Arab political phenomenon for conceiving an insight into political change in the Middle East. I think that Egypt is an important paradigm of the normal and evolutionary political change. We need to observe carefully the developments in Egypt at the domestic and international levels.

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Nassim Yaziji's Neo-Internationalism

6.26.2006

Protecting Arab liberals

Who would protect us?

This is the question.

It is a matter of fact that the authoritarian governments, which rest on repression and lying (the official only-legitimate propaganda), fear the truth, therefore, they fear even the words and fight the free opinion and expression.

The free opinion and expression are essential and effectual prerequisites for change in the Middle East as antidotes to the authoritarianism. The more the freedom of expression exists, the less the political system is authoritarian and vice versa. The freedom of conscience and expression is a real and indispensable foundation of the political reform and progress in the Middle East.

The U.S. and EU should support directly the freedom of expression in the Middle East and should pressure the authoritarian governments on that, especially the totalitarian governments. It is truly a shame that mere opinion can drive a human to prison, torture and humiliation. The international community has the responsibility to protect the endangered Arab liberals and reformers for their opinions.

By the way, to give you a practical example, each single word of mine here besides my sent email -- when they could -- are under close surveillance.

For Middle East liberals, danger is real; fear is legitimate.

Here are two informative and interesting op-eds:


Fighting to Speak
Tunisia vs. a fundamental right.

By Neila Charchour Hachicha

The National Review
April 21, 2006

Tunis, Tunisia. — It has been more than two years since President Bush requested Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to allow political freedoms and freedom of the press. Ben Ali ignored Bush's request. There have been no substantive reforms. Rather, Ben Ali has increased oppression under the guise of combating terrorism. In reality, it is not terrorism the Tunisian regime is combating; its wrath is directed at even the most moderate and peaceful political voices.

In January, I spoke in Washington about the necessity of freedom of speech to make credible any democratic process. Winning the battle of freedom of speech would be to win an irreversible step toward democracy.

When I returned to Tunis, the Tunisian government sought revenge. They spared me, but targeted my family. I became, in the words of American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Rubin, a " test case" to see how serious the White House was about promoting democracy and the rule of law. The State Department issued a "from-the-podium" statement which highlighted my case and that of Mohamed Abbou, a journalist imprisoned (and currently near to death from a long hunger strike) after criticizing Ben Ali.

Pressure works, but only if it is sustained. After the State Department's statement, the Tunisian reaction was to stop its illegal censorship of my websites. It is a good first step, but my website is not the issue. The Tunisian government should end censorship of all peaceful political websites. While my website is unblocked, the Tunisian local server Planet continues to block my regular Internet connection. It is not by coincidence that Planet is owned by Ben Ali's daughter.

The Tunisian regime has launched an unprecedented campaign against my husband. On April 29, they will send him to prison for ten months for the equivalent of a real-estate-zoning violation, an offense on which there is no precedent of incarceration. His lawyer resigned before the appeal could be heard. No lawyer can afford getting involved, knowing that the verdict will be dictated from the regime.

Other harassment continues. Multiple eyewitnesses saw the police confiscate my car; they denied their involvement and said it was stolen. Then, in the presence of two public notaries, the police refused to issue the standard statement necessary for insurance. When the notaries inquired upon what grounds they refused to issue a copy of their statement, they kicked us out.

It is this type of harassment that subjugates ordinary Tunisians. On April 16, the Tunisian Journalist Union put out a press release to announce that Selim Boukhedir, another journalist unfairly dismissed for thought crimes, already lost eight kilograms in the first two weeks of his hunger strike. Anyone who pushes too hard for freedom of speech or freedom of assembly faces arbitrary and unlawful punishment. So far I have been lucky. Other Tunisians whisper about instances of rape, arson, the planting of drugs in luggage, and so forth. This should not be acceptable in the 21st century.

When I set out speaking about freedom of speech, I was naïve. I did not realize just how sensitive the regime would be. Now, I have no choice but to continue. They have threatened my husband and sought to humiliate my daughter, something no mother can tolerate. I never expected to have to write article after article to make sure our suffering, and that of Mohamed Abbou and countless others, did not pass unnoticed.

Liberalism will perish unless the White House and its European allies keep up the pressure to keep Arab liberals safe. When Rumsfeld visited Ben Ali in February, he spoke only of strengthening military-to-military ties. But true stability and security requires some degree of freedom. Ben Ali will listen to the outside world if he believes that its warnings are serious. The Quai d'Orsay offered only a timid statement when Tunisian security forces assaulted French journalist Christophe Boltansky for having reported on the Tunisian government's speech crackdown ahead of the World Summit on the Information Society. If outsiders are not even going to stand up for their own citizens, then why should the Tunisian government worry about opposition when they oppress Tunisians? After all, as the Tunisian ambassador to Washington told the American Enterprise Institute, why should Washington worry about "a person of no consequence" like me? The Tunisian government may say we are Islamists — I certainly am not — or cherry-pick statements to convince foreign officials that all opposition is radical, reactionary, or irresponsible. It is an old tactic, and experienced professionals should not fall for it.

The White House again stands at a crossroad. Not only in Tunisia but elsewhere in the Arab world, liberals and dissidents are waiting. Without freedom of speech and press, reformers cannot build credibility and legitimacy. Ben Ali should embrace reform, not repel it. We don't ask for much — just the assurance that we will not be abandoned if we ask for freedom of speech. Do not worry about stigma; we are already stigmatized for seeking our rights. U.S. ambassadors throughout the region should not hesitate to meet with members of civil society or stand up for prisoners of conscience, just as they once did in the Soviet Union.

I do not know what they will do to me and my husband in the weeks to come. I hope that Washington, Paris, and human-rights organizations will not allow dissidents to be sacrificed upon the altar of realpolitik. We should not suffer for comments as innocuous as ours, or for speaking out in professional forums in Washington. Those of us who struggle in defense of freedom in Tunisia appreciate the help of the State Department. We hope it will continue, even as the Tunisian regime thumbs its nose at Bush. And regardless of what happens, I hope that you will pray for my family and for all of us in Tunisia.

Neila Charchour Hachicha is the founder of Tunisia's Parti Libéral Méditerranéen.
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Where Are the Muslim Moderates?

By Clifford D. May

Scripps Howard News Service
April 6, 2006

Where Are the Muslim Moderates?
In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev addressed a closed session of the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. For nearly four hours, he spoke about the unspeakable: the crimes of his predecessor, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Though listeners were warned not to reveal what was said, and the speech would not be published for 32 years, word leaked out. The most widely told story, probably apocryphal, had it that as Khrushchev was detailing the mass arrests, torture and executions carried out within the Gulag, someone in the audience shouted: “And what were you doing then?”

“Who said that?” Khrushchev demanded. No one made a sound. “I want to know who said that!” he repeated, slamming a fist on the lectern. The audience was silent, trembling in fear. “That's right,” Khrushchev said finally. “That's exactly what I was doing.”

I am reminded of this story not only because this year is the 50th anniversary of Khrushchev's “secret speech,” but also because it may provide at least a partial answer to the question: Where are all the Muslim moderates? Where are those who oppose terrorism, religious wars, hatred and intolerance? Where are those who think it crazy to attempt to recreate the 8th century in the 21st century? Where are those who want not to destroy the Free World but to join it?

They are out there, I suspect; in larger numbers than we might be led to believe. But if most are silent and fearful of speaking out, can you blame them? The vast majority of Arabs and Muslims live in countries ruled by illiberal and oppressive regimes. And in the few relatively free countries – Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia – there is no protection from the long arm of Militant Islamism. Indeed, even in Europe it can be dangerous to challenge religious fascism. And last year, Shaker Elsayed, leader of Dar al-Hijrah, one of the largest mosques in the U.S., told American Muslims: "The call to reform Islam is an alien call."

Muslims who dissent from this orthodoxy have received precious little support from anyone. As far back as 1989, Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini called for the murder of British author Salman Rushdie. Such a frontal attack on freedom of speech should have prompted Western governments to send Iranian diplomats packing. Instead, Rushdie went into hiding while most Western intellectuals persuaded themselves this quarrel was none of their business.

Since that time, and perhaps partly as a consequence, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered for making a movie some Muslims found insulting. Danish journalists who dared publish cartoons satirizing the radicalization of Islam have been threatened. Such formerly-courageous publications as The New York Times declined to publish the cartoons, claiming – unconvincingly -- that they had not been intimidated; they were merely demonstrating sensitivity.

Meanwhile, in Jordan and Yemen, editors who thought their readers deserved to judge the cartoons for themselves were jailed.

The pandering has escalated: Last month, Columbia University held a conference that included as a “highlight” a video of Libyan dictator Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi presenting “his views on the prospects for democracy in the twenty-first century.” Columbia's teachers and administrators are apparently untroubled by the fact that Libya's leading dissident, Fathi Eljami, is currently rotting in one of Qaddafi's dungeons.

And in Tunisia, democracy advocate Neila Charchour Hachicha is under police surveillance -- her phone and internet connections severed, her car confiscated, her daughter threatened and her husband in prison. What did she do to deserve such punishment? It's not clear, but she did give an interview to Middle East Quarterly (http://www.meforum.org/article/732) about impediments to reform in Tunisia and she spoke at the “neo-con” American Enterprise Institute about the need for democracy in the Middle East.

The routine imprisonment and torture of dissidents in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia almost never prompts UN officials to consider interfering -- or even criticizing. Once in a while, a Western diplomat expresses concern.

“I keep hearing, 'Why are liberals silent?'” Said al-Ashmawy, an Egyptian judge and author, recently said. "How can we write? Who is going to protect me?”

If we in the West ever want to have allies in Arab and Muslim countries, we'll need to start supporting moderates -- and stop empowering their oppressors. Most immediately, it would be useful if American ambassadors in Muslim countries would welcome dissidents to their offices as they do cabinet ministers. And perhaps Columbia University President Lee Bollinger – whose “primary teaching and scholarly interests are focused on free speech and First Amendment issues” -- might recognize how his institution has been compromised and at least express concern.

Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies,, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

6.25.2006

U.S. Democracy Promotion, a Round-up

Here is a recent policy watch of the U.S. efforts, stances and statements concerning democracy promotion worldwide, especially in the Middle East:

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

Headlines:
  • Hungary a Model for Iraq, Bush Says in Budapest
  • Terrorist's Death in Iraq Is Victory for Freedom, Bush Declares
  • U.S. Envoy Bolton Pledges Increased Push for U.N. Reforms; Effectiveness of world body to be seen by actions on Darfur, Lebanon, Iran
  • U.N. Hariri Assassination Probe Encouraging, Syria's cooperation still questionable, U.S. Envoy Says
  • U.S. President Arrives in Baghdad for Surprise Trip; Bush Pledges Security, Economic, Diplomatic Support to Iraq
  • House Passes $21.3 Billion Fiscal 2007 Foreign Aid Spending Bill; Representatives reject proposal to cut assistance to Egypt

Hungary a Model for Iraq, Bush Says in Budapest

Bush commemorates 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet tyranny

Washington -- Speaking on a hill from which Soviet forces fired on Budapest in 1956 to put down a 12-day-old revolution, President Bush extolled Hungary June 22 as a country that “represents the triumph of liberty over tyranny” and provides a model for emerging democracies in the Middle East, particularly Iraq.

Earlier in the day, Bush laid flowers at a memorial to thousands of victims of the 1956 uprising.

Bush noted the presence in the audience of some of those who participated in the uprising, which was crushed half a century ago by Soviet tanks and troops. “America honors your courage,” he said. “We've learned from your example, and we resolve that when people stand up for their freedom, America will stand with them.” (See related article.)

Iraq, too, faces determined enemies, Bush said. “Defeating these enemies will require sacrifice and continued patience -- the kind of patience the good people of Hungary displayed after 1956.”

He praised Hungarians for returning to the streets in 1989 and playing an instrumental role in bringing down the Iron Curtain that separated the communist bloc from the free world.

“The lesson of the Hungarian experience is clear: Liberty can be delayed, but it cannot be denied,” Bush said. “The desire for liberty is universal, because it is written by our Creator into the hearts of every man, woman, and child on this Earth. And as people across the world step forward to claim their own freedom, they will take inspiration from your example, and draw hope from your success.”

Bush pledged that the United States will stand by its commitment to help Iraqis rebuild their country and defeat the enemies of freedom. “Our commitment is certain, our objective is clear. The new Iraqi government will show the world the promise of a thriving democracy in the heart of the Middle East,” he said.

Bush came to Budapest after participating in the U.S.-European Union Summit in Vienna, Austria. (See related article.)

During his speech in Budapest, Bush noted that Hungary is a member both of NATO and the European Union. “You know that the democratic journey is not easy, but you continue to make the tough decisions that are necessary to succeed,” he said. “America admires your perseverance, we welcome your progress, and America values our alliance with the free people of Hungary.”

He recounted instances of Hungarian leadership in advancing freedom, including the launching of the International Center for Democratic Transition in 2005 in Budapest and the deploying of Hungarian troops in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

By supporting the young democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush told the Hungarians, “you are strengthening two new allies in the war on terror, and you're bringing hope to millions of people in a vital region of the world.”

The transcript of Bush’s speech is available on the White House Web site, along with transcripts of his press availability with Solyom at Sandor Palace, his press availability with Gyurcsany at the Parliament Building.
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Terrorist's Death in Iraq Is Victory for Freedom, Bush Declares

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, operational commander of al-Qaida in Iraq, is an important victory for the Iraqi people and in the global war against terrorism, President Bush said in his weekly radio address to the nation on June 10.

"Freedom has achieved a great victory in the heart of the Middle East," Bush said.

Although violence might escalate in the weeks ahead, Bush warned, "Coalition and Iraqi forces are seizing this moment to strike the enemies of freedom in Iraq at this time of uncertainty for their cause."

The president expressed confidence in the steps that the new government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken to address its most urgent priorities of reconciliation, reconstruction, and suppressing terrorist violence -- especially now with the completion of the Cabinet by naming ministers of defense, interior and national security.

"Together we will determine how to best deploy America's resources in Iraq and achieve our shared goal of an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," Bush said.
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U.S. Envoy Bolton Pledges Increased Push for U.N. Reforms

Effectiveness of world body to be seen by actions on Darfur, Lebanon, Iran

Washington – U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says there will be an increased U.S. effort in the coming weeks and months for needed reforms at the United Nations.

Bolton told an audience in London on June 8 that the United States is pursing a reform agenda motivated by the need for “ a stronger United Nations” that is better able to solve existing international problems. (See related article.)

The U.S. representative to the United Nations told the Centre for Policy Studies that the issue is whether it is possible for the United Nations to perform as its founders intended. “Can it solve problems like Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the humanitarian tragedy of Darfur, and the critical efforts to make Lebanon a free and independent country again?” he asked. U.N. reform will be judged against the answers to these questions, Bolton said.

Bolton said that an important priority is finishing the job of disentangling Syria from Lebanon. The United States expects Syria to cooperate with the international investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, he said, as well as the assassinations of another 14 anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians.

However, he said, “The Syrian government has not cooperated with that investigation,” and Syrian government officials continue obstructing the inquiry. Should that pattern continue, Bolton said, it will test the U.N. Security Council’s resolve to back up the investigation. (See related article.)

The claim by Syrian officials that they have no documents on Hariri is not credible, given his past alignment with Syrian military and security forces, Bolton said.

The United States is prepared to see the investigation continue for as long as the investigators deem necessary, he said. Bolton praised the work of the independent probe as “excellent and thorough,” although the Syrians continue to block full access to the evidence needed by the investigators.
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U.N. Hariri Assassination Probe Encouraging, U.S. Envoy Says

U.N. Ambassador Bolton says Syria's cooperation still questionable

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The United States is pleased with the progress of the U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and will support the investigators' request to expand the scope of the probe and extend its mandate for one year, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said June 14.

However, Syria's cooperation with the investigation remains questionable, Bolton told journalists outside the U.N. Security Council chambers.

In his report, "Brammertz (head of the International Independent Investigation Commission, UNIIIC) does not say that Syria has fully cooperated," the U.S. ambassador pointed out, quoting from the report that Syria's cooperation was "generally satisfactory."

"Maybe in a pass/fail system that is a pass for this reporting period, but that is hardly a ringing endorsement," Bolton said.

"I take the report at its worth that there has been satisfactory cooperation [from Syria] in this period, but far from the full active cooperation that the Security Council has required," the ambassador said.

Bolton said UNIIIC's report "shows the continuing progress and professionalism of the investigation." The commission, he said, "shows encouraging signs of moving ahead in a variety of areas."

A draft resolution currently circulating in the council [passed] will back Brammertz' request to extend the life of his commission and its mandate, the ambassador said.

Brammertz' request for the year extension and his willingness to remain on the job "shows me that preparations are proceeding in a very methodical fashion," Bolton said.

What the latest report -- UNIIIC's fourth -- demonstrates, Bolton said, "is the systematic progression toward the preparation for trial, toward the selection of defendants, and the preparation of cases."
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U.S. President Arrives in Baghdad for Surprise Trip

Washington -- President Bush made an unannounced five-hour visit to Baghdad June 13 for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, and other Iraqi leaders, and paid a visit to U.S. troops serving in Iraq.

In remarks with the Iraqi prime minister, Bush said they had discussed al-Maliki’s security, economic and construction strategies, “and all of it made sense to me.”

“It’s an impressive group of men and women,” the U.S. president said of the new government. “And if given the right help I’m convinced that you will succeed and so will the world.”

Bush said he had come in order to meet face-to-face and to “tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word.”

Describing Iraq as a “central front” in the War on Terror, he said it is in the interests of the United States and the international community, as well as the Iraqi people, that the new democratic government succeeds.

The success of democracy in Iraq deals “a serious blow to those who have a vision of darkness, who don’t believe in liberty,” Bush said to the Iraqi leaders.

Transcripts of the Bush’s remarks with the prime minister and his speech to U.S. troops in Iraq later in the day are available on the White House Web site.

Bush Pledges Security, Economic, Diplomatic Support to Iraq

The United States will continue to provide security, economic and international assistance to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as it seeks to accomplish its objectives for Iraq, President Bush pledges.

Speaking in his weekly radio address to the American people June 17, Bush said al-Maliki’s “top priority” is to secure Baghdad, and U.S. and coalition troops will help improve security by continuing to embed transition teams in Iraqi army and police units. “[W]e will help the new Iraqi Ministers of Defense and Interior improve their command and control, root out corruption, and investigate and punish human rights violations,” he said.

The United States also will support Prime Minister al-Maliki’s efforts to “rein in illegal militias, build a judicial system that will provide equal justice to all, and promote reconciliation among the Iraqi people,” according to the president.

To help revitalize the Iraqi economy, President Bush intends to send additional U.S. experts to help the Iraqi government develop an economic framework to promote job creation and business opportunities for all Iraqis. The United States also will help increase oil and electricity production by working with Iraqi authorities to protect key infrastructure from terrorist attacks, and to help quickly restore oil and electricity production should attacks occur.

The United States also will encourage international donors to fulfill the monetary pledges they have made to Iraq, and will help al-Maliki in his efforts to forge a new international compact. “Under this compact, Iraq will take a series of steps in the political, economic, and security areas, and in return, the international community will provide Iraq with more robust political and economic support,” Bush said.

The president recalled his surprise June 13 visit to Iraq and said he had undertaken the trip “to personally show our nation's commitment to a free Iraq,” adding it is “vital” for the Iraqi people “to know with certainty that America will not abandon them after we have come this far.”

Bush, Advisers Draw Up Plan To Support New Iraqi Government
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House Passes $21.3 Billion Fiscal 2007 Foreign Aid Spending Bill

Representatives reject proposal to cut assistance to Egypt

By Kathryn McConnell
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $21.3 billion in foreign assistance spending for the fiscal year beginning October 1 (fiscal year 2007) after defeating a proposal to reduce by $100 million aid for Egypt.

The bill passed June 9 by a 373-34 vote would provide 10 percent less than the Bush administration had requested but approximately 3 percent ($597 million) more than approved for fiscal year 2006.

The bill would fund fully Bush's request of $3.4 billion for the international fight against HIV/AIDS, $2.5 billion in aid to Israel, $1.8 billion for Egypt and $450 million for Sudan.

For the bill to become law, the Senate now must complete its version and the differences between the two worked out by a joint House-Senate committee. A final compromise bill then must be approved again by each chamber and sent to the president for signature or veto.

The contested amendment, defeated 225-198, offered by Wisconsin Representative David Obey, would have shifted $100 million away from Egypt to help fight HIV/AIDS and assist refugees in the Darfur area of Sudan. Obey is the leading Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

The amendment was intended to signal unease about Egypt's human-rights record. Opponents said a reduction in aid would punish unfairly an important ally in the Middle East. (See related article.)

The measure would provide $2 billion -- or one-third less than requested -- for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which rewards countries for economic progress and political and social development efforts. (See Millennium Challenge Account.)

It also would provide $522 million for Iraq reconstruction, $227 million less than the administration requested, and scale back funding for Afghanistan from the requested $1.1 billion to $962 million.

Jordan would receive $217 million for its security needs and $251 million in economic assistance. That total is $11 million more than requested and $9 million above the current level.

The measure does not provide the president's requested $150 million for development in the West Bank and Gaza but would allocate $80 million in humanitarian assistance to the area, provided the funds would not be used to support Hamas.

All U.S. assistance for Palestinians in those regions would go to nongovernmental organizations or contactors selected and monitored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The bill also would provide $507 million for the next stage of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, established in 2000 by Congress to fight illegal narcotics in Latin America, primarily in Colombia. Total anti-narcotics funding for the region would be $704 million.

An amendment offered by Democrat Jim McGovern would have shifted $30 million from the Andean initiative to refugees assistance programs. McGovern said the program is not working and supports a Colombian military accused of human-rights abuses. Opponents of the amendment said the anti-drug program is making progress; the amendment was rejected 224-174.

The spending measure would appropriate $371 million for former republics of the Soviet Union and $228 million for Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. It provides no military aid to Uzbekistan, accused of widespread human-rights violations; the Uzbek government has demanded the United State remove its military air base that had been supporting U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Overall the bill would appropriate $1.3 billion for multilateral development assistance; $1.3 billion for international financial institutions, such as the World Bank; $750 million for migration and refuges assistance; and $522 million for a new Trade Capacity Enhancement Fund to help nations qualify for and implement free-trade agreements.

The bill also would provide $70 million in economic assistance, $10 million less than requested, and $5 million in military assistance and training funds for Indonesia.

It would fund the Peace Corps at $325 million.

An amendment to bar any aid to Saudi Arabia was approved 312-97. An earlier version of bill contained some funds for military training and education.

6.16.2006

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:

Headlines:
  • Syria: Human Rights Activists Detained; National Salvation Front Meets in London.
  • Egypt: Crackdown on Demonstrators; Judicial Law Debated; Wafd Election.
  • Palestine: Debate over Referendum.
  • Lebanon: Debate over Electoral Law.
  • Jordan: Government Approves Anti-Terrorism Law.
  • Iraq: Key Cabinet Posts Filled.
  • Kuwait: Run-Up to Elections.
  • Bahrain: New Press and Association Laws; Run-Up to Elections.
  • Algeria: New Prime Minister.
  • Morocco: Detention of Al Adl wal Ihsan Members.
  • Upcoming Political Events.

Syria: Human Rights Activists Detained; National Salvation Front Meets in London

In a continuation of the arrests and trial of human rights activists and opposition figures in the past several months, between May 14 and May 23 Syrian authorities detained 12 activists who were among 300 Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals, writers, and human rights advocates to sign a petition (Arabic text) on normalization of relations between Syria and Lebanon. The May 12 petition called for a properly demarcated border, the release of political prisoners, and the exchange of ambassadors. Among those arrested were journalists Michel Kilo, human rights lawyer Anwar Al Bunni, and Mahmoud Meri of the Arab Organization for Human Rights. They face charges of “weakening national sentiment” and “spreading false or exaggerated news that can affect the standing of the state.” Two of the twelve activists have since been released, and the remaining ten began a hunger strike on May 30. Click here for a May 20 statement by Human Rights Watch and here for a May 23 press statement by U.S. Department of State Spokesman Sean McCormack.

In another development, the National Salvation Front formed by exiled Syrian opposition leaders held a conference in London on June 4-5 to discuss a plan of action for peaceful regime change in Syria. Participants in the National Salvation Front (including former Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam, leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood Ali Sadreddine Al Bayanouni, and smaller Kurdish and communist parties) insisted that the regime should be removed through peaceful and democratic means without outside intervention. They called on the Syrian army and security forces not to enforce the leadership's orders.


Egypt: Crackdown on Demonstrators; Judicial Law Debated; Wafd Election

Tension is on the rise between the Egyptian government and opposition members after authorities cracked down on demonstrators protesting on May 18 in favor of two senior judges who were brought before a disciplinary committee for calling parliamentary elections fraudulent. Judge Mahmoud Mekki was acquitted while Hisham Al Bastawisy received a written reprimand. Human rights groups reported that several Egyptian and foreign journalists covering the protests were assaulted and detained. On May 24 the Egyptian State Security prosecutor charged three journalists who alleged fraud in last year's parliamentary elections with defamation. Click here for details by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Also on May 18, Egypt's Court of Cassation rejected the appeal of Al Ghad Party leader Ayman Nour, convicted in December 2005 of forging signatures on petitions to establish his party. The U.S. Department of State criticized the highly politicized trial of Nour as a “miscarriage of justice by international standards;” click here for a text of the statement.

Hundreds of members and supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood were detained during the May 18 protests, leading to a heated debate in parliament. In an unprecedented move, the Muslim Brotherhood has started a process to withdraw confidence from the government by requesting an interpellation of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.

The Muslim Brotherhood also clashed with the government regarding May 28 elections to the board of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. According to the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian authorities prevented its candidates from winning any seats by arresting 28 members and preventing voters from entering the polls. This was the first time Muslim Brotherhood candidates attempted to participate in Chamber of Commerce elections.

The Egyptian government is set to submit to the People's Assembly a controversial law of the judiciary, which was among the issues that precipitated the confrontation between the Judges Club and the government in 2005. The Judges Club has been lobbying the Egyptian government to pass a law freeing the judiciary from financial and administrative control by the Ministry of Justice. The government announced on June 5, however, that efforts to reach a compromise between the Judges Club and the Ministry of Justice had failed and that the government would move forward with its own draft law. Parliament is also discussing legislation to create a special court to try ministers and to regulate procedures for remanding citizens to custody. The People's Assembly also announced the formation of a three-member committee to study constitutional reforms.

On June 5, the Wafd Party announced that it had elected former parliamentary deputy Munir Fakhry Abdel Nour as its new secretary general. The selection of Abdel Nour came as a surprise and followed months of leadership controversy within the party, including accusations by Abdel Nour that the former Wafd leadership discriminated against him and caused him to lose his parliamentary seat because he was a Coptic Christian.

The Egyptian government has asked the International Republican Institute (IRI), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide, to halt operations in Egypt until it acquires the necessary government permits. This action followed a newspaper interview in which the director of the IRI office in Egypt discussed IRI activities and prospects for democratization.


Palestine: Debate over Referendum

President Mahmoud Abbas announced on June 6 he will extend the deadline for Hamas to accept a platform (English text, Arabic text) that calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 boundaries alongside Israel. Abbas had given Hamas an ultimatum either to accept the platform or face a national referendum, but Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya argued that the Palestinian Basic Law prohibits referenda in Palestine. The platform was signed on May 10 by prominent Fatah and Hamas members imprisoned by Israel, but Hamas's leadership did not endorse it.


Lebanon: Debate over Electoral Law

The Lebanese cabinet is reviewing a draft electoral law proposed by the national electoral law committee on June 1. Headed by former minister Fouad Boutros, the 12-member committee (equally divided among Muslims and Christians) was commissioned nine months ago with drafting a replacement for the law passed in 2000 when Syria still exercised political and military control over Lebanon. While there is a general consensus on the need for a new law, politicians are deeply divided over several issues, primarily electoral districting. The draft law proposes that 51 MPs be elected by proportional representation in the large governorates (muhafazat) and 77 MPs by majority vote in the smaller districts (qada). Other amendments include bringing down the voting age from 21 to 18, allowing Lebanese expatriates to vote, instituting a quota for female candidates, and holding elections throughout the country on the same day instead of the existing month-long process. In an attempt to increase transparency in elections, the draft also proposes creating an independent electoral commission, prohibiting cabinet members from running in legislative elections, and preventing amendments to the law in an election year. After review in the cabinet, the law will be submitted within one month to parliament, where it is expected to be the subject of heated debate.


Jordan: Government Approves Anti-Terrorism Law

Jordan's government approved a new anti-terrorism law on May 27 that includes provisions allowing security forces to place suspects under tight surveillance, seize their financial assets, and detain them for two week periods that may be renewed without a court order. Under the current Penal Code, suspects may be held for only 24 hours before a court order authorizing further detention is required. Leaders of opposition groups and professional associations decried the bill as turning Jordan into a police state and argued that the regular penal code already includes clauses pertaining to combating terrorism. Secretary General of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Jamil Abu Bakr said the law would “strengthen the grip of the security forces and limit public freedoms.” The Jordan Professional Association Council, an umbrella group of 14 professional associations, plans to launch a nationwide campaign against the bill. The legislation was first proposed in November 2005 in the wake of the terrorist bombings in Amman. It is scheduled to be debated in parliament in an extraordinary session in July.


Iraq: Key Cabinet Posts Filled

On June 8 the Iraqi parliament approved the appointment of three ministers to critical positions: Abdul Qader Muhamma Jassim Al Mifarji (a Sunni Arab) as Minister of Defense; Jawad Al Bohani (a Shiite) as Minister of Interior; and Sherwan Al Waili (a Shiite) as Minister of National Security. During the regime of Saddam Hussein, Al Mifarji was expelled from the Iraqi army and jailed for seven years for criticizing the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.


Kuwait: Run-Up to Elections

The Kuwaiti political scene is volatile in anticipation of the June 29 parliamentary elections. Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah dissolved parliament on May 21 after weeks of political feuding over the electoral districts (click here for an Arabic text of his speech). The 29 MPs who demanded the reduction of the number of electoral districts from 25 to 5 have announced the formation of an Alliance for Change front. Among the 402 candidates contesting the elections are 32 women, who will be the first female candidates to participate in elections in Kuwait.

A debate over the constitutionality of members of the royal family contesting elections ensued after Fahd Salem Al Ali Al Sabah, Sheikh Sabah Al Muhammad Al Sabah, and Sheikha Fawzia Al Muhammad Al Sabah announced their intention to run. Kuwaiti constitutional experts argue that while no provision of the constitution bans ruling family members from voting or standing in polls, an explanatory note advises royals to stay away from elections. Ultimately the three candidates withdrew their nominations upon request from the emir. No ruling family member has ever contested parliamentary elections in Kuwait, although a number have in the past expressed a desire to run.

In another development, some Kuwaiti tribes have organized quasi-primaries in various districts to elect one or two candidates from the tribe in a bid to boost their chances of winning seats in parliament. The government arrested several candidates and released them on bail because the 2003 electoral law bans such practices.


Bahrain: New Press and Association Laws; Run-Up to Elections

Bahrain's lower house of parliament approved on May 18 amendments to the Public Gatherings Law of 1973 that bans rallies near airports, hospitals, shopping malls, and locations deemed security-sensitive by the interior minister. According to the law, rally organizers must inform the authorities three days before the scheduled date and assume full civil and criminal responsibility for damage to private or public property during a demonstration. The law also bans carrying firearms or knives during demonstrations, stipulates that rallies may not be held before 7am or after 11pm, and notes that funeral processions may not be turned into political rallies.

A parliamentary committee agreed on May 30 to amend clauses in a draft press law stipulating prison terms for journalists, after a three-week campaign by journalists and rights activists. The first version of the law announced on May 3 mandated prison terms for “incitement to hatred, denigration of religious sects and vilification of parliament.” The new draft specifies that journalists can only be imprisoned for six months if found guilty of insulting Islam, the Quran, the king, or of inciting political regime change. The bill will be debated soon in parliament.

The Bahraini parliament rejected on May 31 by a 15-11 vote a proposal to require ministers to take questions in public before the whole legislature rather than behind closed doors in parliamentary committees.

Bahrain's largest political society, Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, is criticizing the government for failing to set a date for municipal and legislative elections supposed to take place in the fall of 2006. According to the constitution, elections dates must be set 45 days in advance. Al Wefaq announced earlier this year it will participate in elections. Al Wefaq, along with four other political societies, boycotted the 2002 elections to protest constitutional changes that granted the appointed upper chamber of parliament equal legislative powers to the elected 40-seat lower chamber. In another development, 21 Bahraini women announced they will run in elections. No female candidates won seats in the 2002 legislative elections, but the king appointed six women to the upper chamber of parliament.


Algeria: New Prime Minister

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika appointed his close ally and leader of the ruling National Liberation Front Abdelaziz Belkhadem as prime minister on May 25. Observers believe the appointment is a preparation for constitutional changes that will allow the president to run for a third term in office. Although no official reason was given for former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia's resignation, he is known to have opposed a constitutional amendment.


Morocco: Detention of Al Adl wal Ihsan Members

Between May 24 and June 3, Moroccan authorities briefly detained between 300 and 400 members and leaders of the Islamist Justice and Charity group (Al Adl wal Ihsan), which is believed to be the largest (non-party) opposition group in Morocco. Mass arrests in several cities, quickly followed by releases, were made after the group launched an "open doors" campaign to recruit outside traditional areas such as mosques and universities. Group officials denied they have told their followers to prepare for an uprising this year, as reported in some Moroccan newspapers.


Upcoming Political Events

  • Iraq: National Reconciliation Conference in Baghdad, June 22.
  • Kuwait: Legislative elections, June 29.
  • Bahrain: Legislative and municipal elections, fall 2006.
  • Jordan: Municipal elections expected in mid-2006.
  • Yemen: Presidential and municipal elections, September 2006.

6.09.2006

Arab Democracy and Egypt Paradigm

After the liberation of Iraq and along with the Bush's Forward Strategy of Freedom, the Arab region has been witnessing a new kind of political phenomena concerning the political life, democratic rights and human rights. Some scholars call this political phenomenon the Arab spring.

I think that the key point of this phenomenon is the end of stagnancy in the political life, and therefore, the change in the status quo at the political, social and intellectual levels. This status quo is the effect of the political authority, which is mainly backward, ignorant and authoritarian. It intends this status quo and maintains it with stagnancy using the authoritarian violent means to preserve its monopoly of political power whatever the costs are.

This stir is indispensable for the political change and democratization in the region, which did not ever experience but authoritarianism. The entire political system in the authoritarian Arab state rests on violence and stagnancy, the absence of any pillar of these would reshape the political system and put the authority at awkward challenge to cope with that. The regime here may resort to violence to restore its stability in governance. The international environment and the international input into the situation would determine the fate of the regime's pursuit.

We do not have the sufficient expertise and scientific knowledge to predict on the future and processes of the resulted political change and effects. It is indispensable to observe the realities and developments of this Arab political phenomenon for conceiving an insight into political change in the Middle East. I think that Egypt is an important paradigm of the normal and evolutionary political change. We need to observe carefully the developments in Egypt at the domestic and international levels.

I will post two Op-Eds on the democratization question focusing on Egyptian and international affairs including some recommendation for the U.S. policy.


Egyptian Emergency

By Khairi Abaza

National Review Online
May 16, 2006

Once again, the Egyptian regime has responded to violence at home by consolidating the authoritarian structure of the state. On April 30, following two deadly terrorist attacks in the Sinai, President Hosni Mubarak extended the emergency laws that have stifled Egyptian liberties since 1981. Then, just last week, Cairo looked like an army garrison when 10,000 police and security forces cracked down on pro-democracy activists demonstrating to express their support for an independent judiciary.

The Mubarak regime needs to understand that it is the lack of political freedom, transparency, and accountability that has helped breed fanatics willing to perpetrate horrific attacks. Currently, Egyptian civil-society activists are engaged in heated battles for meaningful reforms that will help establish an independent judiciary and a free press—essential pillars of any democracy. If the regime continues to deny these changes, it can expect to face increasing radicalism.

The tension between the regime and the judges and their supporters has increased following calls for reform by Egypt's top judges. Since the 1952 military coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, the military-backed authoritarian regime has compromised judicial independence by mandating that the executive branch control judges' budgets, promotions, and bonuses. Consequently, the regime has exerted enormous influence over who becomes a judge and who advances within the system.

Many of Egypt's top judges increased the pressure for more freedoms in 2005 by threatening not to oversee the presidential election, as the Egyptian constitution requires. In response, last February the regime launched an investigation against two of the most obstreperous judges, Hisham al-Bastawisy and Mahmoud Mekky, both from the Court of Cassation, Egypt's highest appeals court. The Judges' Club, an official entity acting as a de facto judges' syndicate, however, created enough of an uproar, through demonstration and mobilization of the opposition, that it hoped the regime would back down. According to Zakaria Abel-Aziz, head of the Judges' Club, Egypt's judges will not settle for less than the true independence of the judiciary. At the time, the regime promised to issue new laws for the judiciary, but it has yet to deliver.

Journalists, for their part, seek to abolish the reprehensible but common Egyptian practice of imprisoning those who publish criticisms of the regime. Though Egypt enjoys a relatively more open press than other Arab countries, it is far from free. According to Law 93, introduced in 1996, journalists can face up to two years in jail for “publication offences,” a vague concept that is manipulated for political ends. Journalists and their syndicate are trying to force the government to abandon prison sentences for publication offences. Recently, two journalists were imprisoned, fueling a heated war of words between the government and the syndicate. Their jailings served as a catalyst for several demonstrations.

The syndicate went as far as to draft a new law that was submitted to the government. Technically, the decision to change the laws that persecute journalists lies in the hands of the parliament, but the ruling National Democratic party delegates will only move if they get instructions form the regime. Two years ago, President Mubarak promised to amend the current law, and the government has pledged issue a new law before the end of the current parliamentary session this spring, but reformers remain skeptical.

Agitation for political change in Egypt is not new. For over a year, nearly all the opposition parties and movements have united under the same banner: to change the outdated, authoritarian, socialist-style constitution; to decrease the power of what is commonly referred to as a “pharoanic” presidency; to increase the authority of a fairly elected parliament and prime minister; to establish a truly independent judiciary and a free press; and to secure the right to create new political parties, demonstrate, and strike without first applying for permission as the emergency laws require.

Mubarak, thus far, has barely flinched. After much internal and external pressure, the Egyptian regime made some cosmetic amendments and permitted the first ever competitive but highly controversial presidential elections in 2005. Large-scale irregularities were reported by judges, civil-society organizations, and the opposition. Before holding free elections, the Egyptian regime should open the political space and allow parties and movements to work in a free and fair environment.

The extension of the emergency laws is a blow to civil liberties and another indication that the regime has no intention of genuinely reforming the political system. No longer satisfied with cosmetic measures aimed at easing American pressure, Egyptians realize that empowering the judiciary and the press could mark the beginning of a true transition to democracy. If the political leadership is genuine about tackling Egypt's security problems at their core, it too will need to recognize that transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of any society that aspires to progress.

—Khairi Abaza is a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
-----------------------------

Stop Coddling Despots

By Max Boot

Los Angeles Times
May 10, 2006

During his first four years in office, President Bush made impressive strides toward achieving the improbable goal laid out in his second inaugural address—“ending tyranny in our world.” American troops liberated 50 million people and midwived representative governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States also provided important support to peaceful uprisings in Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan.

The ripples of those revolutions reverberated throughout the greater Middle East, long the major breeding ground of anti-Western terrorism. At a minimum, tyrants felt compelled to pay lip service to American demands that they curtail support for terrorism and show greater respect for human rights. Syria’s Bashar Assad pulled his occupation army out of Lebanon; Hosni Mubarak promised to hold genuine electoral contests in Egypt; the Saudi royal family deigned to hold elections for municipal councils.

In the last year, however, the global momentum for democratization has palpably slowed and in some places reversed course altogether. Vladimir V. Putin has crushed all competing centers of power in Russia. Belarus, the only other dictatorship left in Europe, held fraudulent elections that confirmed Alexander G. Lukashenko’s death grip on power. The same thing happened in Kazakhstan, where president-for-life Nursultan A. Nazarbayev claimed to have won more than 90% of the vote. Next door in Uzbekistan, security forces gunned down hundreds of unarmed protesters in the city of Andijan and then tried to cover up the massacre.

The same worrisome trend is observable in the Middle East. The Iranian ayatollahs have stepped up their campaign of torturing, jailing and executing dissidents. The Assad regime has arrested more opposition figures at home and continues to intimidate anti-Syrian activists in Lebanon. And, most glaring of all, modern-day pharaoh Mubarak has imprisoned his leading liberal opponent and renewed the draconian “emergency law” that allows indefinite detention of anyone who challenges his rule.

What’s going on? Well, no one—not even Bush—ever said that the course of liberty would be smooth and easy. Entrenched elites have an obvious incentive to resist giving up power, and they now feel free to do so because they think that Bush, a lame-duck president with approval ratings in the low 30s, is too feeble to resist.

The despots reckon, not without reason, that they can simply wait out the current occupant of the White House. They know that the odds of vigorous action from the United States are slim given how many U.S. troops are tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq. The continuing turmoil in Iraq and Hamas’ takeover of the Palestinian Authority—signs of the supposed dangers of too much freedom—provide further pretexts for repression.

In his remaining 986 days in office, Bush has a choice: Either he can sit back and allow the resurgence of the dictators, or he can fight back with the considerable power still at his command. His recent decision to grant a coveted White House reception to Ilham Aliyev isn’t a good sign because the president of oil-rich Azerbaijan blatantly rigged his nation’s parliamentary elections just six months ago. If Bush wants to show that he is still serious about promoting “the expansion of freedom,” he could begin by making an example of Egypt.

Mubarak is reputedly one of Washington’s closest friends in the Arab world, yet he has been among the most brazen in defying Bush’s demands for greater openness while force-feeding his 78 million subjects a steady diet of anti-American and anti-Semitic drivel. His vow to hold multiparty presidential elections produced a suspect ballot last fall in which he secured 88% of a feeble turnout. Afterward, he consigned his chief challenger, Ayman Nour, to five years’ hard labor on trumped-up charges of forging signatures to qualify for the ballot. The subsequent parliamentary election was even more dubious; ruling party goons used violence and fraud to keep the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition group, from winning too many seats. Now Mubarak’s minions are roughing up peaceful demonstrators who support brave judges in their demand for greater independence and less electoral fraud.

Why, oh why, is this repugnant regime still getting $2 billion a year in American subsidies? Take the money away from Mubarak and give it to democracy-promotion programs across the Middle East. That would be a shot heard ’round the world. Failing such a signal, the dictators will become bolder and more brazen in defying what Bush once called “the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity.”

Max Boot Is a Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at The Council on Foreign Relations.

6.02.2006

We Will Never Forget -- Samir Kassir


The first anniversary of the martyrdom of the prince of martyrs Samir Kassir



Dear Samir,

Beirut spring misses you and Damascus roses mourn you.


Sincerely Yours,
Nassim Yaziji

6.01.2006

Lebanon's Independence and Democracy

Dedication: to Lebanon and Syria's martyrs Gebran Tuine and Samir Qassir in his first martyrdom anniversary.

The forces of the old Middle East, the pre-2003 Middle East, through the totalitarian-terrorist alliance, are fighting to survive. After the consecutive failures in Iraq to restore the totalitarianism as an indispensable guarantee to the Middle East stagnancy, which based on the authoritarianism and the interdependent system of despotic regimes to ensure their sustainability, the pursuit now is to impede the international pro-democracy effort to spread out in the Middle East.

I have frequently said that liberating Lebanon belongs to the same sense of the course of action of liberating Iraq. This course of action represents the international "new deal" in the Middle East through the strategic effort to end the cold-war era in the region besides the Soviet legacy there. The success in Lebanon is important as much as the success in Iraq; it is a requisite for the long-term stability and for a thriving democratic project in the region.

The regional totalitarian and terrorist forces and their Lebanese proxies are flouting the international community and the international resolutions by murdering and intimidating the Lebanese politicians and intellectuals who are the symbols and cadres of the liberating Cedar Revolution. Furthermore, they are hindering the political reform in Lebanon and stalling the Lebanese people's ability to rule themselves and their country independently, freely and democratically.

Lebanon now is almost besieged from outside and inside too. The terrorist groups, which are directly attached to foreign governments characterized with their destructive role in the Middle East, as the Iranian terrorist group of Hezbullah and some Palestinian gangs commanded by a neighboring totalitarian regime, are still holding their arms and military bases on the Lebanese territory. Furthermore, some parties of those, mainly the Iranian terrorist group of Hezbullah, are playing the role of hindering the elected government from discharging its responsibilities in protecting the Lebanese people, sovereignty and democracy and ensuring the Lebanese independence and integrity through their participation in the government or/and their possession of arms and bases on the Lebanese territory constituting a de facto state inside the legitimate state.

The international powers must clearly realize the disastrous effects and consequences to inflict the stability and the democratic movement in the region and the geopolitical achievements of the Operation Iraqi Freedom too if they did not move seriously to ensure the full implementation of the UNSCR 1559. Furthermore, the international community holds the responsibility to protect the Lebanese people through decisive international measures.

The indecisiveness of the international community about the comprehensive war against Lebanon and its freedom and independence may ultimately cause Lebanon to be held as a hostage on behalf of some regional totalitarian regimes. In addition, it would let the Middle East reformers down and would serve the Middle East authoritarian status quo alongside risking more the regional security and fragile stability.