Monday, December 19, 2005

In the Mideast, Democratic Momentum

Jackson Diehl, Washington Post - Amid all the noise of suicide bombings, talk of a quagmire for U.S. troops and a sectarian conflict that could lead to Iraq's disintegration, most people haven't noticed that in the rest of the Arab Middle East, the political momentum of the past year has been . . . distinctly democratic.

"There's enough going in the right direction . . . that I am one of those who believes that the intervention in Iraq will be good for democracy in the region in the middle term," is the way Mark Malloch Brown, the witty chief of staff to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, puts it. "I'm just not sure it will be good for democracy in Iraq."

With the world focused on Iraq's troubles, naysayers who insist that there has been no positive change, or even that the situation has grown worse, mostly aren't contradicted. Yet any honest examination of the Arab world shows that the transformation Bush called for on the eve of the war in 2003 got closer in 2005.