April 9, 2003


Arabs in Shock, Denial at Toppling of Saddam (Paul Taylor, April 9, 2003, Reuters)
Ahmed, 35, a Cairo taxi driver, shook his head in disbelief at the toppling of Saddam's statue. "There is no way ordinary Iraqi citizens would have done that. Impossible! They are probably Kurds or Shias," he said.

But some people said Saddam's fall should be a warning to other Arab leaders.

Egyptian political commentator Salama Ahmed Salama told Reuters: "The gap between Arab governments and the people represents a source of anxiety for different Arab regimes. But whether they'll learn the lesson or not, I don't know."

The Iraqi example showed that the backing of a party, clique or tribe was not enough to sustain a legitimate government.

"The scene of the statue being brought down showed how Iraqis were dissatisfied with (Saddam's) regime. Maybe this is going to be a lesson and an example to other Arab leaders who consider themselves like gods," said Ali Hassan, a shopper in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Some Arab broadcasters made a point of telling viewers Saddam's demise was the end of a unique tyranny, not a precedent for other states ruled by unelected monarchs or autocrats.

"The Iraqi situation is exceptional, we can't compare it with Iran or Egypt...or a country like Saudi Arabia. This is...a regime outside history," Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi said.

It's interesting to note both that the Shias and Kurds aren't "Iraqis" and that the regime must be removed from "history". The task before us remains the same: demonstrate that history has found Islamicism wanting. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 9, 2003 10:51 PM

The key will be the reconstruction of Iraq. Unfortunately the US was a poor record of handling the peace. I hope the occupation of Japan will be the role model rather than the Potsdam Agreements.

Posted by: Thomas J. Jackson at April 10, 2003 12:36 AM

It would help if we would all stop worrying

about what the Arabs think about us, and if

the Arabs would start worrying what we

think about them.

I am tired of gazing into their navels.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 10, 2003 2:01 AM

TJJ: Thankfully there isn't a USSR to worry about. They're nothing but a supersized Bulgaria now.

I don't know if the Islamicism comment is valid given that only S.A. and Iran (and recently Afghanistan)run themselves according to that.

Showing that an Arab country can well do without the brand of autocracy, nationalism and socialism which keep their economies and societies in an atrophied state will be the challenge now.

Though in any case most Arabs hate the US far too much to believe any good can come from it.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at April 10, 2003 7:37 AM


It seems that Pan-Arabism has melded into Islamicism in some perhaps inevitable way.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2003 7:59 AM


The Arabs may hate us but the wealthy still send their children to be educated in our universities. Kinda makes you feel used doesn't it?


Posted by: Bart Rhodes at April 10, 2003 12:40 PM


What for?

American universities and businesses benefit from the cash they spend there.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at April 10, 2003 3:14 PM

Dartmouth, our local college, even has a bin Laden chair.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2003 8:35 PM