The big question

The prospect of democratic elections in Iraq seems to provoking some interesting debate in the Arab media.

In particular the recent reaction of Arab leaders demanding representation at the Sharm Al-Sheikh conference for all Iraqi groups, has brought forward some charges of double-standards:

Salama Ni’mat of the newspaper Al-Hayat: The Arab concern for … the legitimacy of Iraq’s upcoming elections, and for the representation of [Iraq’s] entire political, ethnic, and religious spectrum is outrageous. Anyone who watches what is going on could, if he did not know the truth, almost believe that the Arab countries – which throughout their history have never known what elections are – have become the [countries] most keen that Iraq’s upcoming elections will reflect the will of the Iraqi people, with all its elements – and will particularly [reflect the will of] the Sunni minority that in Saddam Hussein’s day was, for well-known reasons no one even questioned, [considered] a ‘majority.’

“It is outrageous, and amazing, that the first free and general elections in the history of the Arab nation are to take place in January: in Iraq, under the auspices of American occupation, and in Palestine, under the auspices of the Israeli occupation.

“[It is just as] outrageous that the Arab League, which represents the will of the regimes of 20 [Arab] countries from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, wanted the Iraqi opposition to be invited to the Sharm Al-Sheikh conference, so as to ensure that all Iraq, with its entire political spectrum, would be in attendance to represent the Iraqi people. It matters not at all that other Arab oppositions have not been invited to any Arab League meeting or to its many summit conferences, throughout the history of the Arab peoples.”

And this:

Nabil Sharaf Al-Din:”We are not being fair to the current Iraqi government. Not me, nor you, nor the other guest on this program, not even the viewers, but history will do justice to them. These people are establishing the first democracy in the Middle East. This country will be a platform for liberties in the whole region. In Iraq, the days of a leader who remains on his throne until he dies are gone. This is over. For the first time the Iraqi leader will be elected by Iraqi ballots.”

More translated Arab columnists here.