S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Lawful Power in the Middle East

The moves for power:
The United States moved much more aggressive in the Middle East after the election of the current administration. As a result of dominance in this administration of a group of neocon ideologues, whose main goals include the protection of Israel and the "spread of democracy," the administration may have gotten more than it bargained for. Many of the moves were made in secret. Now we have lost all our Pawns, our King is unprotected, and their Knights are on the move:

Events outpace the the U.S. ability to exercise power and control: Upcoming Israeli election outcomes have been inevitably changed by the untimely absence of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Iranians elected a radical Islamist anti-western President, who is making threats and - perhaps - very big bombs. The ties between Iran and Palestine remain strong.

Hamas won Majority power in Palestine: A group of radical militants legitimately won the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament. And Fatah's man remains the Palestinian president. The outgoing Palestinian parliament is attempting to legislatively boost the power of Palestine's president, Mahmoud Abbas. The BBC states that, "The Palestinian leader will be able to appoint a constitutional court that can cancel future legislation. Hamas - the militant Islamic movement which won a landslide in January polls - called the move illegitimate."

Hamas' man remains a secret: What the strategic reasons are remain a guess. It could be to keep the opposition guessing, for security reasons, or because he has not yet consolidated his power. But Hamas has chosen their Prime Minister, and his identity remains secret, according to this Reuters story. The story goes on,

Hamas said on Monday it had chosen one of its leaders to be the next Palestinian
prime minister after a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, but refused
to name him. A spokesman for the Islamist militant group, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, said Hamas has made its choice but declined to disclose the new appointee's name.
"The prime minister will be a leader in Hamas," Mushir al-Masri said.
The news came as the outgoing parliament met for a final session before Saturday's swearing-in of a legislature dominated by Hamas, whose reputation among Palestinians for integrity and charitable work helped secure its election last month.
Hamas was expected to begin formal talks next week on forming a government. It said it hoped to draw other factions into a national unity administration.
A very tenuous hold on power by the winning Iraqi party: Our adventure in Iraq has not turned out to be very much fun. As a matter of fact, democracy there has produced a number of unintended outcomes, including the possibility of another anti-western Islamist democracy in Iraq. Here is the story from two different perspectives.

From the U.S: The New York Times carried this article about the choices the Iraqis are making about who will hold lawful power there for the next four years. And the winner got one more vote than the loser. Will he be able to govern? That is one of the biggest questions of 2006. To quote,
Mr. Jaafari, a moderate Islamist, has been widely criticized as a weak leader over the past year and was considered a long shot to continue in his post. But he defeated his main rival by 64 to 63 in a vote of members of the Shiite bloc on Sunday morning after gaining support from followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the renegade Shiite cleric who is outspoken in his hostility to the United States.
Mr. Sadr's followers now control the largest bloc of seats - 32 of 130 - within the Shiite alliance. They decided to vote for Mr. Jaafari after he promised to help carry out their political program, . . . Mr. Jaafari's surprise victory illustrated the growing political power of Mr. Sadr, who led two bloody uprisings against the American occupation and the interim government in 2004 and has made it clear that he favors a prompt American withdrawal from Iraq.
In recent visits to Iran and Syria, Mr. Sadr has expressed solidarity with the leaders of those countries and angry opposition to American policy toward them. Mr. Sadr also commands the Mahdi Army, a broad-based militia that has been largely quiet since 2004 but is still armed and is said to be behind some recent deadly attacks on British troops in Basra.
Until the weekend, Shiite leaders had said they expected the prime minister's job to go to Adel Abdul Mahdi, . . . (who) has a reputation for decisiveness and consensus-building, and he is more popular with Kurdish and Sunni Arab leaders than Mr. Jaafari is. But Mr. Jaafari refused to withdraw, and after efforts to achieve consensus broke down in rancor, the alliance's leaders agreed to decide the issue with a vote.
From the Middle East: Here is Aljazeera's report on the new Iraqi Prime Minister who is the old Prime Minister. To quote,
Iraq's dominant Shia political movement has chosen Ibrahim al-Jaafari as its candidate for prime minister in the country's first permanent post-Saddam Hussein government. Officials said that al-Jaafari had won 64 votes on Sunday, narrowly defeating Adel Abdul Mahdi, the vice-president, who got 63 in a ballot after the group failed to reach an agreement by consensus on Saturday. According to the Iraqi constitution, the new president will formally designate the choice of the biggest bloc in parliament after the assembly convenes.
What is lawful power? Operating under the rule of law means just that. Ideally that dictates making decisions lawfully and without undue secrecy. The democratic model posits that leaders operate with the consent of the governed. The people get to make their own choices of who will lead them. The days when the United States or other Western powers are able to exercise "king-maker" power in the Middle East seem to be over. And the days when United States citizens get to make their elective choices are fast approaching. Democrats in 2006!
Reference: Middle East News Mix, a recent S/SW post.
My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about Michelle Kwan.

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