How We Denied Democracy to the Middle East

Looney Toons in Rummyworld

How We Denied Democracy to the Middle East


The Independent

The Brits created all those worthy sheikhdoms in the

Gulf. Kuwait was our doing; Saudi Arabia was

ultimately a joint Anglo-US project, the United Arab

Emirates (formerly the Trucial State) etc. But when

Iran decided in the 1950s that it preferred Mohammed

Mossadeq's democratic rule to the Shah's, the CIA's

Kim Roosevelt, with Colonel "Monty" Woodhouse of MI6,

overthrew democracy in Iran. Now President Bush

demands the same "democracy" in present-day Iran and

says we merely "excused and accommodated" the

loathsome US-supported Shah's regime.

Now let's have another linguistic analysis of Mr

Bush's words. "The failure of Iraqi democracy," he

told us two days ago, "would embolden terrorists

around the world, increase dangers to the American

people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the

region." Here's another take: the failure of the Bush

administration to control Israel's settlement-building

on Arab land would embolden terrorists around the

world, increase dangers to the American people and

extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Now

that would be more like it. But no. President Bush

thinks Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is "a man

of peace".

And then there's that intriguing Bush demand for a

revolution in undemocratic Iran. Sure, Iran is a

theocratic state (a necrocracy, I suspect), but the

morally impressive President Mohamed Khatami,

repeatedly thwarted by the dictatorial old divines,

was democratically elected--and by a far more

convincing majority than President George Bush Jr in

the last US presidential elections.

Yes, "democracy can be the future of every nation",

Bush tells us. So why did his country support Saddam's

viciousness and war crimes for so many years? Why did

Washington give its blessing, at various stages, to

Colonel Ghaddafi, Hafez Assad of Syria, the Turkish

generals, Hassan of Morocco, the Shah, the sleek Ben

Ali of Tunisia, the creepy generals of Algeria, the

plucky little King of Jordan and even--breathe in

because the UNOCAL boys wanted a gas pipeline through

Afghanistan--the Taliban?

A break here. Fouad Siniora is the finance minister of

Lebanon. He is a believer in the American way of life,

a graduate of the American University of Beirut and a

former lecturer there, an ex-executive of Citibank. He

has a valid American visa in his passport. Yet he has

been telephoned by the American embassy in Beirut to

be told he will not be permitted entry to the US.

Why? Because last year he gave $660 at a Ramadan

fast-breaking iftah to a charity that runs educational

projects and orphanages in Lebanon. The organisation

is run by Sayed Mohamed Fadlallah--once described by

the Western press as the "spiritual adviser" to

Hizbollah. CIA sources long ago revealed that they

tried to kill Fadlallah--they failed, but their

Saudi-prepared car bomb killed 75 civilians--so

Siniora, an Americanophile to his fingertips, is

persona non grata in the US. Fadlallah is not

Hizbollah's "spiritual adviser"--so he could hardly

withdraw his support for its victory over the Israeli

army in Lebanon three years ago--but the looney-toon

"security" legislation in the US has deprived Siniora

of any further contact with a country he admires.

Yes, roll on democracy. Bring 'em on. The new

"Rummyworld" war on terror is in Iraq. Ban the press

from filming the return of dead American soldiers to

the US. Liberty is what it's about, democracy.

"Accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle

East", indeed. We created this place, drew its

borders, weaned their grotesque dictators. And we

expect the Arabs to trust Mr Bush's promise?

Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and

author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to

CounterPunch's hot new book, The Politics of



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