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April 14, 2003

Gulf News has a remarkable article:

The Iraqi tremor and its key lesson for all
| By Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief | 14-04-2003

With the stunning and shameful collapse of the Iraqi regime and its Baathist reign, another Arab era has vanished, turning the pages of contemporary Arab history and opening a new chapter....

The collapse of the Iraqi Baath party has long been anticipated simply because of the way it ruled Iraq. There was a total destruction of political and social life so that the regime could tighten its vice-like grip on the country and monopolise power. To this end, the regime suppressed freedom and democracy in economic, political and social fields - in fact, in all aspects of life.

When the winds of change started to blow, it was not only the regime that came tumbling down, but all the institutions as well. And a stark reality was revealed: that these institutions were virtual phantoms as far as the people were concerned. They were under the complete command of the regime. The people were not allowed to participate in the establishment and running of these institutions....

This situation should no longer be prolonged or repeated in other Arab countries. Single party monopoly suppresses all types of political participation and only leads to the suffocation of people, politically and socially. Political and social turmoil reach a boiling point - a pressure cooker waiting to burst.

What happened to the Baath party in Iraq is evidence that such governance will lead to its collapse. The party's actions and the monopoly of power by an unqualified clique - except for its insatiable desire to terrorise its own people and neighbours - is a strong lesson that Arabs should learn from.

This is crucial if Arabs are to embark on a journey towards a new life - one that is based on the promulgation of freedom, the establishment of a state of law with its institutions and the adoption of a system that ingrains people's participation in the political process.

Democracy should not merely be exercised superficially - displayed without any substance. Instead, it should become a part of public life where every Arab citizen is virtually a partner in any development process instead of just remaining marginalised. This is the change that should replace totalitarianism and monopoly of power by a single party.

Many Arab analysts, observers and intellectuals may attribute this abuse of power to the Palestinian problem. This is based on the grounds that these regimes have taken this issue as an excuse to justify their actions of confiscating liberties, strengthening their armies and tightening their grip on power. These, the regimes have claimed, are all crucial national interests as they prepare the foundation for the liberation of Palestine.

However, it has become clear that the Palestinian cause is just an excuse for these regimes to justify the repression of their people and their monopoly of power. It is as if Palestine can only be liberated through repression simply because these regimes have claimed democracy will not achieve this goal... this dream.

These false visions and list of justifications have always been propagated by the Baathist regime in Baghdad. It has crushed all political forces on charges of high treason and jailed and exterminated many others whether they were communists, Islamists or democrats.

As a matter of fact, the regime that was headed by Saddam Hussain had practically done nothing for the Palestinian cause. It had neither fought for this cause, nor had it assisted the Palestinians in their struggle.

On the contrary, it had always sought to divide the Palestinians and Arabs, playing a negative role in this crucial cause of Arabs.

Read the whole thing!