Where Credit Is Due

Is change in the Middle East the result of Ameican action or serendipity?

Issue: Summer 2005

A sudden burst of political activity has jolted the Middle East. Iraq's historic January 30 elections transpired with considerably less violence than predicted. Two weeks later, male citizens in Saudi Arabia went to the polls to vote in the Riyadh province's first ever municipal elections, followed by similar elections elsewhere in the country. In Lebanon, the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri galvanized massive protests against the Syrian occupation. In Palestine, citizens not only freely elected a new leader, but the Palestinian Authority rejected Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's crony cabinet, forcing him to incorporate younger, less-beholden politicians. Soon thereafter, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak suddenly announced that the Egyptian political system would be opened to more than just one candidate. In May, Kuwaiti women won the right to vote and run in parliamentary elections. Winds of change are blowing through the Middle East.

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