Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Reform In The Arab World

You said it, they just don't get it-- the way Saddam Hussein and the Taliban didn't get it either. Their mind is still set in the old ways that the US will be satisfied with stability at the expense of democracy. They have a very strange way of defining freedom, in Syria for example, reform meant for them that the Syrian citizens are now allowed to open up a barber shop and hold a wedding party without having to notify and get a prior approval from the Baath party apparatchik. In Jordan reform meant to the Jordanian citizens that they can establish political parties but at the same time they aren't allowed to assemble, nor hold rallies, and the names of the party officials as well as all of its members must be submitted to the ministry of interior for vetting. In Lebanon reform meant that the opposition parties can assemble and nominate candidates but at the same time they will be assassinated one at the time until no one is left or until those who oppose the regime get scared enough to the point where all they want from life is to secure staying alive. In Saudi Arabia, reform meant that three gentlemen asking for reform get tried in a kangaroo court and then placed in jail for merely demanding reform. In Egypt, the constitution was amended to allow for more than one candidates to run for the office of the president but then they attached so many restrictions and exception to the new amendments that only very few Egyptian if any will be qualified to run. There you have it the new democracy in the Middle East, too much rhetoric and no action at all. The leaders are fixated in their own ways thinking that so long as they keep giving the people the sops that they have all along been giving them the people will remain acquiescent. Twenty first century mental awareness didn't hit home yet. They think of their people as if they are their own little children, all they need to do is buy them that little a toy which makes bells and whistles to keep them calm and happy. It is a very sad state of affairs, the US needs to put an added pressure on the Arab leaders to free their people, and it need to develop a mechanism where by it can monitor the progress of the reform in every step of the way. Just because the leaders say that they are all for reform and democracy, it doesn't mean that they are now any step closer to it than before.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Candidate's hope looks grim

Candidate's hope looks grim.

I was highly ecstatic to learn that Mr. Aladdin Elaasar had decided to join the already crowded field of candidates seeking the office of the President of Arab Republic Of Egypt, I had learned earlier from browsing the internet that the Egyptian feminist Nawal Saddawi, and the Egyptian human rights activist Sadd Din Ibrahim were also contemplating taking a shot at that very important highest order of Egypt. I said to myself wow, that really transcends the facile.

What remained unanswered until today is the fact about how any of these candidates will be able to challenge an incumbent that occupied the office of the Presidency unchallenged for the past quarter of a century !

And just as I was trying to make sense of this web of contentious situation, I come across a report published in the Jordanian daily Newspaper Al Dustoor, which basically puts a damper on the hopes and aspiration of these enthusiastic candidates, it may even extinguish any remaining hope for them to even have their names listed on the ballots once and for all.

The report specifically states that Egyptian election law prohibits the candidacy for the office of the President of Egypt from holding dual nationality. In addition, the candidate must also meet two other essential exigencies before he can qualify for running. A) He must have gone through and completed the mandatory conscription draft. B) He must secure the endorsement of all of the members of the people's assembly, as well as the Egyptian consultative council members. I don't know if Mr. Elaasar is holding a dual national, holding both Egyptian and American citizenships or not, but if he is then his candidacy will be automatically disqualified.

The law wasn't obviously promulgated for Mr. Elaasar, it was supposed to be a safety valve against the candidacy of the son of Husni Mubarak who we believe to be holding A dual British as well as Egyptian citizenships. He is contemplating running in 2011 election.

I regret not seeing Mr. Elaasar enjoy his fifteen minutes of fame, however, if he is willing to relinquish his American citizenship, and meet all the other exigencies, the hope may still be there although it already doesn't look good at all for the adroit extra ordinarily ambitious Aladdin

Hatem Abunimeh

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sami Al Arian

The case of professor Sami Al Arian may turn out to be
nothing but smoke and mirrors, The government may even
have taken a bigger bite than the one it can swallow. Dr.
Arian may have had a big mouth and cocky attitude but it
is hard to believe that he provided aid to the terrorists
or he was the so called brain for the entire Palestinian
Islamic Jihad [PIJ] organization.
Yes he did call for 'death to Israel' in one of the
rallies, yes he did collect money for the orphan
Palestinian children, yes he spoke out against
occupation, oppression, and usurpation of the Palestinian
people, yes he lead a very brazen effort to free his
brother in law Mazen Al Najar from Florida Jail, yes he
went around the country yakking about America's
unconditional support for Israel and lack of support for
the Palestinians, Yes he lead faith based organizations
as he was a devout Muslim, and yes he established a think
tank institution that had a known terrorist on its staff.
Yet, none of these things combined can make him become a
terrorist or stand trial for variety of terrorist related
charges that if convicted carries many years of jail time
behind bars.
Dr. Al Arian may have been heard praising the suicide
bombing in Israel, many Palestinians that are so angry at
the Israeli occupation and the daily humiliation of the
Palestinian people would praise those bombing in the same
manner or even in a much more cheerful and gloating
In 2000 presidential elections, Dr.Al Arian held fund
raiser parties for the then candidate George Bush, and on
election day he exhorted the Arab and Muslim constituents
to vote for George Bush.
The indictment, charges, and now trial for Dr. Al Arian
is a classic reminder of the McCarthite era, during the
Senate race last year in Florida, Dr.Al Arian has become
the poster boy for the senate seat rivals.
That is why because of the intensive media publicity, the
mood that the country is going through in post 9/11 era,
and the penchant for convicting anybody for having
anything to do with terrorism, Dr Al Arian will not get
a fair trial, he is already convicted in the court of
public opinion, and before very long he will be convicted
by a jury of his peers.
If convicted Dr. Al Arian deserves to be pardoned by the
President of the United States, the President is the only
one that can see to it that justice is being served in
this circus like unjust case.
Hatem Abunimeh