June 21, 2005 [LINK]

Condi scolds potentate "allies"

Following up on the Bush administration's push to democratize the Middle East, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice bluntly criticized the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia for failing to liberalize their political systems during a tour of the region. It's about time. She also made it clear that the United States is not imposing its system on others and frankly acknowledges its own past failings, such as segregation and discrimination of blacks. See Washington Post. This comes as news that most of the suicide bombers in Iraq have come from Saudi Arabia, where security forces pay lip service to "rounding up the usual suspects." In Egypt, pro-government mobs made a mockery of Laura Bush's nice words for President Mubarak's tip-toes toward democracy last month; see my May 26 post.

Meanwhile, Iran has held elections in which a thuggish apologist for the theocracy won a spot in the second-round ballot by surprise. Most expect that former president Rafsanjani, a relative moderate, will win. A pro-democracy movement lives on in Iran, though the mullahs are putting heavy pressure on them. The really good news about democracy comes from Lebanon, where anti-Syrian candidates won a solid victory in elections this week. The fact that an anti-Syrian leader was assassinated shows how fiercely and desperately the fascist Baathist forces are resisting this trend. The Lebanese people have spoken loudly in defiance to Syria, marking a huge step forward for the forces of freedom. This has not received much attention from the mainstream press, however. Most recent news reports have focused instead on the esclalation of car bomb attacks in Iraq and escalated calls for a withdrawal timetable by several Democrats and even some Republicans such as Chuck Hagel.