Bush's Democracy

Randa Takieddine

Friend of the USA, Ariel Sharon. Israel's laws grant special privileges to anyone in the world who is Jewish, over and above those of long-time Arab residents, and bars democratic rights from those who think the country should not be a Jewish state. Over a month ago, on the margin of the UN Assembly General meeting in New York, Condoleezza Rice gathered European and Russian heads of government and advisors over a dinner meeting. She spoke of the primary objective of the American administration in Iraq. She told the German Chancellor, whom she honoured by seating him opposite of her: “You in Germany, and others in Europe, would not be here in the framework of democratic regimes had the United States not eradicated Nazism from Germany. The USA opened the door in Germany in 1945 to democracy in Europe.” She added: “This is the primary objective of our policy in the Middle East. On September 11, we were attacked on our soil. We understood later that democracy in Iraq should be the first door to establish democratic regimes in the region.”

Amidst the discussion, someone asked her about the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She answered: “it is not the Democrats’ priority in the region because settling the conflict would not guarantee the spread of democracy in the Arab lands.” She talked about her heritage as a black daughter of a family that had no civil rights in the USA; however, “they got them through the struggle of Martin Luther King who resorted to the American constitution.” She considered that the priority in Iraq’s democracy is drafting a constitution. When someone pointed out the necessity of electing a legislative assembly to draft such constitution, because it is impossible to be drafted under an occupying authority that runs its affairs, Rice disagreed with him from the perspective of President George Bush’s administration related to democracy.

What is this American democracy that refuses the principle of electing a legislative assembly to study the drafting of the constitution? Who would draft it now in Iraq? Iraqis supporting an American occupying authority, which is busy with a deteriorating security that it cannot control! What is this democracy that decides handing Iraq’s reconstruction to two American companies; Bechtel and Halliburton?

Friend of the USA, Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisia's Ben Ali came to power in a bloody coup in 1987. He keeps over 2,000 political prisoners locked up, sanctions widespread torture, and runs a one-party dictatorship.

Friend of the USA, Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisia’s Ben Ali came to power in a bloody coup in 1987. He keeps over 2,000 political prisoners locked up, sanctions widespread torture, and runs a one-party dictatorship.

As for the Arab region, are Bush and Rice interested in the upcoming presidential elections in Lebanon? Or in Algeria? Or in Tunisia? Or any of the other Arab countries whose presidents wish to stay in power forever? In Lebanon, for instance, the economic and political situation reached a very dangerous deteriorated point. Everyone is wondering who would be the first voter for the president of the republic in 2004? Would Syria be able to renew the mandate of the current president, or would the USA not allow it and would provide the opportunity for a relatively free presidential election? The American administration is, first and foremost, interested in exerting pressure on Syria in order to control its borders with Iraq and control the infiltration of the elements who are attacking it. In addition to contain Hezbollah; in order not to threaten Israel. As for Lebanon and its destiny, the migration of its youth and the deterioration of the freedoms, economy and politics, they are not among its priorities, despite the claims of Ms. Rice.
Friend of the USA, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Thousands have been killed by the Algerian government in the civil unrest that has followed the military-backed annulment of the elections in 1992.
The Lebanese presidential elections are an American pressure card used against Syria. The aim is not the spread of democracy in an Arab world, the people of which is longing for freedom, accountability of a corrupted political class and to openness.

What about the presidential elections in Algeria? Here also, President Abdulaziz Bouteflika wishes he could remain president of the country, forever, and bets on the support of the military institution to renew his mandate. What did he do during his mandate? A country that enjoys oil and gas reserve wealth that exceeds $20 billion? yet, he was unable to provide decent housing and living standards for a people that suffer an ever-increasing social misery. Many are the American oil companies coming to Algeria, the rich country in natural resources chosen by the American administration as a strategic ally in the North African region. But is it interested in the real game of democracy in it? Or is it more interested in the fact that its companies receive the biggest share of its oil and gas? What about the coming presidential elections in Tunisia? Here also the USA played a significant role in supporting the coup against the late president Bourguiba. Ever since, it considered it as the essential substitute allied regime in North Africa, knowing that its “democracy” is based on an infinite presidency. 

The Arab dream of true democracy, according to which the people call the political class to account, is not in harmony with the priority of the USA that prefers the democracy that serves its private interests in the region.

Published Friday, November 7th, 2003 - 05:14am GMT

Article courtesy of Dar al Hayat

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Randa Takieddine

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