Saturday, November 12, 2005

The absolutism of most Middle East governments

I wasn't surprised how it turned out. Was anyone?
Mideast Democracy Summit Ends in Rancor

MANAMA, Bahrain - A U.S.-backed Mideast democracy and development summit ended in rancor Saturday despite adoption of two initiatives that are part of President Bush's push to expand political freedom in a region dominated by monarchies and effective single-party rule.

A draft declaration on democratic and economic principles was scuttled after Egypt insisted on language that would have given Arab governments greater control over charitable and good-government organizations....

Participants in the Forum for the Future session announced a $100 million fund to promote economic enterprise in a region where populations are growing and unemployment is often high for young men. The fund includes $50 million from the United States, with contributions from Egypt, Morocco and Denmark.
What a colossal waste of time. That is, for those of us who would like more democratic governments in the Middle East. It was a bargain for the ruling autocrats, who needed only mere days to scam American taxpayers (via our gullible representatives) out of another $50 million. Isn't it obvious that mere lip service is being given to democratic principles, when Egypt -- extolled by some in recent months for holding "more free" elections -- insists that Arab governments retain great power over certain civilian-run organizations with purely peaceful purposes?

If I may say so, unlike certain others, I have a pretty good forecasting record. But I'll admit this (or the summit's failure) wasn't terribly hard to predict. On April 11th, I predicted that Mahmud Abbas would need foreign aid (essentially blackmailing the U.S. and others in the name of the "peace process") to finance his new plan to pacify Palestinian thugs. The latter agreed to stop their murderous ways if given government jobs, a pure extortion scheme that would make any American mobster proud. Then on May 26th, I noted President Bush announced $50 million in aid to Palestinians -- or more accurately, $50 million to Palestinian leaders, who will eventually spend just a fraction on the people for whom the money was intended.

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