11 October 2002

With Friends Like These...

Supposedly we know that the only way to have peace in the Middle East is to get rid of the State of Israel. It is because Israel exists that there is no stability in the region. Let’s give everyone what they want, a Middle East without Israel. No doubt, stability will improve.

Of course human rights are very important in the Middle East region. We know that Arab countries are “dedicated” to protecting those rights. In addition to protecting those important rights, it is well known that the Arab countries are “committed” to a terrorist-free world.

Let’s begin with the United States friends in the region. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. As we know, peace and freedom loving dictatorships.

Egypt. The United States next best friend. While Egypt is officially a social democracy, President Hosni Mubarak was reelected for a fourth 6 year term in September 1999. It’s really amazing to see democracy in action.

According to the U.S. State Department Report on Human Right Practices 2001, the Egyptian “Government's record remained poor with respect to freedom of expression and its continued referral of citizens to trial in military or State Security Emergency courts... The [Egyptian] President and the entrenched NDP [National Democratic Party] dominate the political scene to such an extent that citizens do not have a meaningful ability to change their Government.” It is good to know that Egyptian citizens have a real right of representation in their government.

It is also good to note that the Egyptian police departments are taking their jobs seriously. They are allowed to arrest and hold suspects without charges or lawyers. Abuse, torture and killing of suspects is rampant in the police departments.

Let us move away from such a freedom loving society which the United States supports with 1.3 billion dollars annually. But there’s no need to worry, it’s a stable Middle East.

Let’s take a look at the Kingdom of Jordan, a constitutional monarchy. While the word “constitutional” is in the title “constitutional monarchy”, there are, of course, limits. According to the State Department,

“Citizens may participate in the political system through their elected representatives in Parliament; however, the King has discretionary authority to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister, Cabinet, and upper house of Parliament, to dissolve Parliament, and to establish public policy.” I’m always happy to hear about democracy flourishing in that part of the world. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it’s the ties they have to the fun dictatorships of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan, that give the King of Jordan such funny ideas about how democracy works.

As in Egypt, we see that the Jordanian police are up to snuff with arbitrary arrests and holding without charges. There is also torture and abuse of suspects. It’s good to know they’re not spending their energy focusing on the al-Qaeda terrorist cells based there. There’s no need to be worried, it’s a stable Middle East.

Moving right along to Saudia Arabia, another good friend of ours. It’s definitely not a democracy. But who needs democracy anyway when Crown Prince Abdullah’s in charge?

According to the State Department the Saudi “...Government prohibits or restricts freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, and movement.” Picky, picky. Who needs those rights anyway? “Other continuing problems included discrimination and violence against women, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and strict limitations on worker rights.” Then again, maybe we’re focusing too much on human rights.

What about the Saudi dedication to stopping terrorism? Hey, what kind of a question is that? Do we not trust our Saudi friends?

They’ve certainly given us what to work with. The Saudi kingship has yet to close any known terrorist bank accounts. According to Saudi intelligence, 25,000 Saudis have trained in military camps, mostly in Afghanistan since 1979. More recently, of the 300 terrorists taken prisoner in Afghanistan by the United States, 100 of them are Saudi citizens.

As can be seen, we have good friends in the freedom loving countries of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. We’ve seen that these countries are totally against terrorism and are doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of the world around them. I’m sure that even though we haven’t discussed the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and the other seventeen Arab countries of the Middle East, that they too would do everything to protect the human rights of their citizens and the security of the world. You were worried about stability in the Middle East? I can’t imagine why.

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