September 14, 2003


Arab Rulers Leery of New Iraq Role ModelHAMZA HENDAWI, 9/14/03, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

For an Arab world resistant to political reform, the new Iraq taking shape under U.S. tutelage is a troubling harbinger.

In the five months since U.S. forces rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein's rule, the country's ethnically and religiously diverse people have, in one giant leap, overturned decades of social and political injustice, replaced a brutal one-party system with a multitude of groups advocating a rich range of ideologies and created a free press.

Shiite Muslims, a majority in Iraq oppressed for decades by a Sunni minority favored by past colonial masters and later by Saddam, are now free to worship in public and visit their holy shrines. Kurds, non-Arabs whom Saddam killed by the thousands to suppress their struggle for self-rule, are now main players in the new Iraq - their voices strong, their ideas sought.

Already Iraq's interim leadership is the only Arab government with a Shiite Muslim majority, and its foreign minister isn't even Arab.

But the path to democracy in this nation of 25 million people must get over some big hurdles - political bickering, terrorism and growing attempts to stoke ancient sectarian rivalries - for it to become a viable role model in a region ruled by change-resistant, authoritarian leaders and absolute monarchs.

"Diversity is the most distinct feature of the new Iraq," said Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite who last month became the first president of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council. "We raise our heads high and tell the world that, from now on, we will show a multitude of faces, offer you many voices and that's the new Iraq," he said in a recent interview.

The hardest part of having a child is letting him go out into the world on his own. Time to let ours go.

-Don’t Rush to Disaster: It is touching to learn of French faith in the Iraqi Governing Council. When the council was set up, the French refused to endorse it (Fareed Zakaria, 9/22/03, NEWSWEEK)

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2003 4:26 PM

Maybe the best time to have Iraqi "democracy" collapse isn't just before US elections.

I think that we won't let them go until AFTER Nov '04.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 14, 2003 8:38 PM