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Friday, November 25, 2005 

Syria takes it to the brink: the Mehlis interviews WILL take place

Syria has agreed to send five officials to Vienna for questioning. But the Government has confused reporters by stating that five will be questioned - not the six that we all thought were up for questioning.

It's a last minute deal which - once again - saves Syria's skin. Phew.

Post the news story about America invading Syria yesterday, but then got it's ass kicked and ran back into Iraq.

Fear from the "Brotherhood"
Abdul Wahab Badrakhan Al-Hayat - 26/11/05//

There is a story that is being told in whispers and behind closed doors in official Arab circles; the gist is that none other than Ariel Sharon, assumed the role of some Arab governments and succeeded where they failed in dealing with President George Bush. Sharon was successful in convincing President Bush that the pressure Washington is exerting in order to hold free and fair elections in the Arab world is dangerous. Such elections, in his opinion, will lead to Islamist-controlled parliaments. Consequently, such an outcome is not in the interest of Israel or the United States or lastly the "moderate governments" in the region.

Sharon had defended his demand, in front of the Americans, which is preventing Hamas and the "Islamic Jihad" from taking part in the Palestinian elections. He also warned from the power of the "Muslim Brotherhood" in Egypt and Syria, indicating that the vigor of hostility to Israel and the United States has shifted from the nationalists, who were subjected to defeats, to the Islamists, who form, according to Sharon, a consistent support to "terrorism". There is no way to alleviate their positions, since they are linked to religion and ideology.

This Sharonian "wisdom" might have contributed in alleviating the US arrogance that was used in urging Arab regimes to reform. Since Sharon and his gang are constantly searching for what could prolong war and occupation, extending in the same vein the permanent militarization of the Israeli society. Despite the freedom and democracy slogans brandished by President Bush for his Middle East policy in his second term, the Iraqi disappointments threw gloomy shadows on this policy, although it is still implemented as a political complement of the military arm in the war on terrorism.

The Egyptian elections must have set off the alarm once again with what it showed from the empowerment of the "Brotherhood" and confirmation of their popularity in society. This required the return to the traditional means of arrests and illegal acts and interventions in the second phase of the elections. It could be replicated on the third round. Despite all this, it could not change the course or stop the rise of the "Brotherhood". The source of the authority's fear and tension is unknown, since the ruling party will eventually get a majority that will exceed two-third of the parliamentary seats.

However, what became obvious this time is that such a majority does not necessarily mean that the ruling party is strong; it is rather a large and massive body with many weak points. The society is aspiring for major and tangible change; however, it does not see in this party the appropriate vehicle for that change, but there was no other choice. The popularity of the "Brotherhood" could be largely attributed to the power of its discipline and organization, but this popularity also reflects the desire to exert a "evocative" vote that sends a warning message to the ruling party.

The "Brotherhood" has fought its battle seeking to impose recognition, thus, acquiring official authorization for action, instead of remaining an "outlawed group". Practically, the "Brotherhood" totally ignored this "outlawed status" in these elections. The authority though reserved the right for itself to treat it as an outlawed group when it wanted. As much as the authority exploited the rise of the "Brotherhood" as an indication of the "freedom" and credibility of the elections, it also used the repression and arrest of the "Brotherhood" members as an indication of its response to internal and external fears from the "Brotherhood" excesses. The risk of allowing a prohibited party to operate publicly and participate in elections would have been beneficial for Cairo to voice to the Americans and others: you want democracy your style, this is a sample of what awaits you. Didn't Milad Hanna say: "had the elections been fair and transparent, the Muslim Brotherhood would have won the majority of seats?"

In fact, the problem is not in the American pressure but in the reform delay to the extent that any change now could be seen as a shock. Undoubtedly, the work that awaits the new parliament is complex and controversial because it would deal with negative accumulations that have corroded with time, just like the corrosion of the current electoral law. Indubitably, the required change must be in the interest of the country and not that of the "Brotherhood" or anyone else. This is why the country deserves brave and creative steps. This historic moment is linked to the future of a people and not to the fate of a party or a regime.

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