Quite a day in the Middle East, as two events continue to rock that region day after day. First, 2,000 Iraqis went to the site of yesterday's terrible explosion and demonstrated against terror
. Next, both domestic and international pressure has forced Syrian "President" Bashar al-Assad to pull troops out of Lebanon in the next few months
When I first heard about the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq back in 2002, I was quite skeptical of the objectives of neoconservatives into using Iraq as a base to spread democracy and eliminate terrorism and totalitarianism at the same time. I still am, but the political changes that are erupting throughout the Middle East in the wake of the Iraqi elections are amazing, not just by the size of them but also how quickly they've manifested. There have been democracy movements in the Middle East prior to the Iraqi conflict, but nothing has provided this kind of push.
Not only has Iraq's opposition to terror and Syria's pressure to leave Lebanon been significant, but Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has announced presidential elections for Egypt
starting this fall. Palestinian elections, which resulted in the election of President Abu Mazen, has resulted in a more conciliatory tone from Israel and it's prime minister, Ariel Sharon.
What's next? Will Pakistan and Saudi Arabia follow? It's possible, as democratic pressures are falling upon both regimes. However, should Americans be skeptical that democracy will bring in the peace and prosperity that will resonate throughout the Arabic World, or will Islamic fundamentalists work within the system to hijack the governments? Once the initial push for democracy wears off, only time will tell if they are willing to reject the militant organizations that work within their countries altogether.
And finally, can the Bush Administration take responsibility for the surge in democratic activity in the Middle East? It's possible. Once they proved terrorism would not control Iraq and will eventually fail through the execution of January's elections, it gave other movements in the Middle East motivation. They can't take it all, but they can claim to have taken the lead in seeing it through.