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Democratisation in the Middle East - the debate

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Jul, 2006 07:15 am
princesspupule wrote:
Wait a minute, what does any of this have to do with the definition of democracy?
Wasn't Greece a democracy, but women had no rights, and there were slaves who had no rights? You can have a democracy without a constitution, or any written laws, can't you? This is utter bullsh!t!


Main Entry: de·moc·ra·cy

1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

5 : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

---

Note: government by the people; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people.

Not: by the part of the people that has the right colour. Or: by the segment of the people that is assigned the right to vote, which is denied to all the others.

So no, when women have no rights and there are slaves who have no rights, that's no democracy by any approximation to today's definition. When the majority of the people don't have the right to vote, like in apartheid-era South Africa, that's no democracy. When there are no written laws whatsoever, that's no democracy.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Jul, 2006 07:16 am
The damage done to Lebanon's fragile peace and democracy in one week surpasses that afflicted on Israel in decades. And the damage these images do to any remaining trust in the West as fair broker in the Middle East will boost fundamentalism.

Quote:
Lebanese who fled as youngsters forced to flee again with own children
Angelique Chrisafis and Brian Whitaker
July 20, 2006
The Guardian

Wearing a sweat-soaked vest and beach shorts and clutching a leather briefcase in one hand and a baffled five-year-old in the other, Joe Noujeim cut an odd figure as he walked down the gangplank of a 5,200 tonne British destroyer to a Cyprus tourist spot yesterday morning.

Mr Noujeim, his Portsmouth-born wife, Maria, and their three children were among the first people to arrive at Limassol port in Britain's biggest sea evacuation since Dunkirk. Mrs Noujeim had packed only two rucksacks, full of food and water, and was encouraging her children to be brave in the face of danger. "Our building was shaking," said young Michael, not sure where he was.

For nights on end the family had watched bomb attacks from their flat window 500 metres from the main Hizbullah neighbourhoods of south Beirut. Mr Noujeim [..] said the worst part of the ordeal had been the private taxi ride through Beirut's bombed streets to get to the port and the British ship.

[..] the first voyage was a priority mission of mostly women, children and families, who had travelled in the sailors' mess and been allowed 20kg (45lb) of luggage per family. For safety reasons the navy had only taken them above deck in small batches for occasional "fresh air" breaks during the 11-hour, 140-mile journey. The captain said he had carefully negotiated Israel's naval blockade, staying in touch with Israeli naval ships in a "friendly way".

[..] In Cyprus there was a feeling of deja vu. The Mediterranean island has hosted hundreds of refugees from the Middle East conflict over the past 30 years. Yesterday people who had fled Lebanon with their families in the 1980s as children were now fleeing again with their own children.

Khayri Kaaki travelled on the HMS Gloucester with his Wilmslow-born wife, Maya, and their one-year-old son. They had escaped to the mountains outside Beirut, but said the supermarkets had run out of bread, sugar and water as they waited for days to be evacuated. The family took a taxi at speeds of up to 120mph to reach the port once the embassy had given them the go-ahead.

"It was terrifying. We thought a bridge was going to be bombed as we crossed it," he said. "In 1982, when Israel invaded, I was a seven-year-old. I remember the 15-hour journey to escape into Syria, I remember crying in the car and my mother shouting at me. Now I'm doing the same with my own son."

His friend Tanaz Agha fled to Cyprus from Lebanon in the early 1980s as a child. The family brought no bags and ended up staying for 20 years. Now she has escaped again with nothing but her passport and wallet and is staying in the same Limassol hotel she did as a two-year-old, rinsing her one T-shirt each day. [..]

"This will get worse. The terrible thing is that now foreigners are coming out, Israel won't care, they'll do what they like to the place," she said.


[..] just as European countries and the US and Australia brought boats to evacuate their citizens, hundreds of Lebanese were trying to travel the other way. Late on Tuesday night at Larnaca port, 100 Lebanese queued to board a French boat to Beirut which earlier that day had evacuated 900 French people and was now going back for more.

"I have to reach my children in Beirut," said Norah, a banker who had been on a training course in Cyprus when the attacks began.

[..] The embassy is still very concerned about 86 Britons trapped in southern Lebanon. Agreeing safe passage with the Israelis is proving difficult. "We are in contact with other international partners, and if we can we'll piggy-back on other people's operations," an embassy official said.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Jul, 2006 10:29 am
I find it interesting how the US can supply Israel with munitions faster than removing to safety American citizens from Lebanon. Priorities anyone?

July 22, 2006
Weapons
U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis
0 Replies
 
princesspupule
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jul, 2006 03:58 am
nimh wrote:
princesspupule wrote:
Wait a minute, what does any of this have to do with the definition of democracy?
Wasn't Greece a democracy, but women had no rights, and there were slaves who had no rights? You can have a democracy without a constitution, or any written laws, can't you? This is utter bullsh!t!


Main Entry: de·moc·ra·cy

1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

5 : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

---

Note: government by the people; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people.

Not: by the part of the people that has the right colour. Or: by the segment of the people that is assigned the right to vote, which is denied to all the others.

So no, when women have no rights and there are slaves who have no rights, that's no democracy by any approximation to today's definition. When the majority of the people don't have the right to vote, like in apartheid-era South Africa, that's no democracy. When there are no written laws whatsoever, that's no democracy.


So where does your definition fit into working democracy in the U.S. circa 1960 or any other date which predates the Civil Rights Movement here in the U.S.? We weren't a democracy then?- Or that doesn't count as "today" although it was more recent history than the jews creating today's Israel following WW2...
0 Replies
 
princesspupule
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jul, 2006 04:07 am
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/21/AR2006072101363.html
Quote:

Hezbollah's Apocalypse Now

By Amal Saad-Ghorayeb
Sunday, July 23, 2006; Page B04

BEIRUT

Power failures are creating problems across much of the city, cellphones are unpredictable, and the regular bombing makes my neighbors cautious about going out, leaving most people here alone with the question that has plagued them for almost two weeks: What on earth was Hezbollah up to when it abducted two Israeli soldiers and provoked a punishing response that is creating orphans and bringing down buildings all around us?

As a scholar who has devoted much of my career to following Hezbollah, I have a simple answer. I'm sure that Hezbollah had envisaged, though perhaps not expected, a response of this kind. By provoking its southern neighbor, Hezbollah knew it would present Israel with a ghastly choice. Hezbollah is a popular social movement, and it is well aware that it can be destroyed only if the Israeli army is prepared to commit mass murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing -- use whatever unpalatable term you will -- against the entire Shiite community.

Israel won't win without wiping out a religious group. However angry the Israelis are, there must be many who won't be able to stomach that possibility, with its hideous historic implications. That's what Hezbollah was counting on 11 days ago when its fighters took Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser captive near the Lebanese border.

Without wanting to alarm my neighbors who are adjusting to the nightly barrage of Israeli missiles, I cannot help but cast the current conflict in apocalyptic terms. What began as a surgical military operation staged by a relatively small organization has metamorphosed into an existential showdown with the potential to transform the political landscape of the Middle East. And it has put Hezbollah in its favorite spot -- center stage, with the international community looking on.

I've been reading this script for 11 years now, interviewing political, media and security officials from Hezbollah. And they have given me insights into the party's motives that go well beyond the prisoner exchange that it publicly claims. True, Hezbollah had dubbed 2006 "the year of retrieving the prisoners" and had warned of its intent to kidnap Israelis to secure the release of three Lebanese held in Israel. But the seizure of these two soldiers also reflects Hezbollah's broader goals -- both its domestic political agenda and its regional, strategic one.

Domestically, Hezbollah has succeeded in integrating itself into the Lebanese political system, with its two government ministers and 14 MPs. But the party has also been keen to convince others of the importance of its resistance and of its unrivaled efficacy as a deterrent to the threat posed by Israel.

And Israel's current onslaught has unwittingly provided Hezbollah with the opportunity to demonstrate both -- that Israel remains Lebanon's gravest enemy, and that Hezbollah is the only force capable of confronting it. The Lebanese government's ineptitude in handling the crisis, coupled with the army's sitting-duck status, only underscores that point.

Hezbollah has succeeded in elevating its regional importance, positioning itself alongside Iran, Syria and Hamas -- the axis of terrorism in Israel's lexicon. In this light, Hezbollah's face-off with Israel is not only a defensive war of survival (in response to the declared Israeli and U.S. objective of eliminating the organization), but also an attempt to shatter the myth of Israeli invincibility (which explains why Israel also views this conflict in existential terms).

Most of all, though, Hezbollah hopes to set a new precedent in the Arab world, as its leader Hasan Nasrallah revealed in his latest televised speech: He characterized his movement as a "spearhead of the [Islamic] umma" and declared the conflict as "surpassing Lebanon . . . it is the conflict of the umma," whose success or failure will reverberate in the entire region. In other words, Hezbollah is to serve as an inspiration, as an exemplar of bold action against Israel and, by extension, against Arab regimes that have allied themselves with the United States and Israel.

With so much at stake, it is likely that Hezbollah foresaw Israel's overreaction and laid out contingency plans. Its daily displays of its long-range missiles are more than empty exercises in psychological warfare. Echoing in my mind are the words of a Hezbollah official. He told me that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ongoing anti-Zionism, along with Iranian supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei's affirmation that Hezbollah will never disarm, has given the movement confidence that it can "fight for months."

Hezbollah is launching missiles deeper into Israeli territory than it ever has before. It is bringing the war to Israelis' doorsteps in the hope that they will pressure their government to call for an unconditional cease-fire. And it wants to demoralize the Israeli army, one Hezbollah official told me.

It is hard to gauge public opinion here today. From the snippets of conversation I pick up, people remain polarized, as they were before the war: On one end are those (mainly non-Shiites) who lay the blame for Israel's destruction of Lebanon squarely on Hezbollah for having picked the fight; and on the other are those (overwhelmingly Shiite) who believe, as one man told me, that "we should fight to the death." But there are also many in between whose initial anger at Hezbollah is being replaced by rage at Israel. Those sentiments remind me of 1982, when Israel's invasion of Lebanon gave birth to Hezbollah.

Given its current position of strength, Hezbollah is in no mood to settle for anything less than its original demand for a prisoner exchange, as Nasrallah asserted in a recent interview on al-Jazeera. Why would Hezbollah agree to any of the diplomatic proposals being floated? The idea of deploying the Lebanese army to the south to serve as a buffer between Israel and Hezbollah would be tantamount to the party's military neutralization. And the notion of stationing multinational troops there is even more far-fetched, given that Hezbollah and the Shiite community would view them as occupiers.

Leaving Israel to significantly weaken Hezbollah's military infrastructure would have equally perilous consequences. If there is anything more dangerous than a strong Hezbollah, it is a weak Hezbollah. One can only imagine what would happen if the organization were left bereft of leadership, clinging to its remaining weapons and operating underground, while the Shiite community is seething with resentment at Israel, the United States and the government that it perceives as its betrayer. As one Hezbollah member said, "All hell would be let loose."

Which is a reminder that although this past week has been bad, we haven't seen hell yet.

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb teaches at the Lebanese American University in Beirut and is the author of "Hizbu'llah: Politics and Religion" (Pluto Press).



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0 Replies
 
ag10597
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Oct, 2010 03:59 am
The Middle East Tradition and History of its Culture is not conducive to Democratic Principals. These regional folks subscribe to a cultural set of social rules that are so far away from the Western Ethic that it is impossible to reconcile the two idealologies. The Middle East Tradition relates to the here and now, and human decisions on how best to manipulate the "real time" situation in favour of the person or the business, the state or the beliefs/fears of the individual. This is why the US will never leave a footprint or anything positive in this area.
One day, if in the interests of the gangsters, government, or locals, they will applaud approve and support the Western attempts to Democratise the Middle East. Then if even a minor issue comes up that may threaten the power of the gov't/gang/individual, there will be a great change of attitude to the West. ie. the horrid concept of Female equality, freedom of religion, and the rule of law. The US should get out of there and simply become a power that clearly states; your culture does not work here. We no longer believe that the number of honest supporters in the middle east outnumbers the dishonest ones, consequently we are pulling out.
This should be followed by an admonition by the US of the average people in these regions indicating they could have made democratic reform work if they had the stones to take advantage of the situation.
At that point the U.S. should simply state that they will not tolerate any threats or attacks by some of these middle east groups by saying that if they are attacked, they will identify the motivator, the area of the power base of the attackers, and simply exact military retribution in full force on that area. The general public in these areas should be advised that if they don't get on board by doing there own work to rectify these situations, they may become victims of an attack.'
The deployed forces have stated for a long time that the natives in those areas lean in the direction from day to day for what is in there best interest, from day to day. The member of the public that you built a school for last month, might be ready to cut your throat in the next month because the extremists have again occupied that area.

Quite frankly, I don't believe it is worth an allied soldiers life to be over there, and suffer the indignities of betrayal, and criminal fraud by the leaders of these countries, not to mention the fair weather changes in views of the locals.
The Western World needs to turn off the tap of the milk of human kindness on these people until they get the message that they can't impose the barbarian principals of the stone ages on modern society.


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