Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A few from the Middle East 

A few things from the Mid-East that caught my attention:

Egypt: An interesting piece in "The Washington Post" - old undemocratic habits are pretty hard to break for president Mubarak as he hounds his main rival, Ayman Nour. There are some positive signs, though:
"An electoral farce featuring the persecution or jailing of Nour and the ballot-box stuffing widely reported in previous Egyptian elections would eliminate the possibility that Egypt, like Mexico or South Korea, will be led to democracy by its ruling party. It could also scatter the group of young technocrats who, under Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, have embarked on an aggressive effort to liberalize the economy and modernize the regime. The prosecution of Nour, one told me, is intended 'to stop the reforms.' Nazif, whose tax and tariff cutting and privatization of state companies have prompted a 130 percent gain in the Cairo stock market since last summer, insists the government is committed to real change. 'We led peace. We can lead political reform,' he said, echoing the phrase President Bush has used for Egypt. He added: 'We don't have any differences' with Washington 'on where we want to be. We might have some differences on the tactics and the pace'."
Interesting, isn't it, how Bush is becoming quotable throughout the region? (hat tip: Alex S.)

Iraq: Astute Blogger has a wager for you:
"I betchya that IRAQ - rife with neojihadist and neobaathist terror and nagged by lingering ethnic divisions (between Sunni Arabs, Sunni Kurdish, Shia and the Turkmen), and trying democracy for the first time ! - gets a new constitution before EUROPE does!"
The Saudis: Crossroads Arabia rounds up Crown Prince Abdullah's visit to the Crawford Ranch.

Also, the winner of the Saudi version of "Idol", "Star Academy 2" has been detained by the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice - Saudi religious police - after being mobbed by fans at a shopping center - where friendly kisses are considered "improper" (hat tip: Andy B.). This is for all those who think that America is becoming a theocracy.

Iran: Regime Change Iran writes that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will be standing again for the presidency at the June election. This is a man widely portrayed in the West as a "moderate", who - as Regime Change Iran reminds us - had once said:
"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."
Chester, meanwhile, responds to the Fox's "Iran: The Nuclear Threat" special.


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