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Islamism Rode Democracy's Wave
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Islamism Rode Democracy's Wave

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bashir Goth

Goth is a veteran journalist, freelance writer, the first Somali blogger and editor of a leading news website . He is also a regular contributor to major Middle Eastern and African newspapers and online journals.

The Muslim world heeded Washington's call for democratic change, and ushered Islamists in. This may be leaving a bitter taste in Bush's mouth.

It all started with Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood won a record number of seats in the Egyptian parliament, followed by the landslide victory of Hamas in the first Palestinian free and fair elections.

The surprise rise of the Iranian firebrand president Ahmedinajad also came as another blow to any of Washington's hopes of having a reasonable counterpart to talk to in Tehran. With Islamic parties taking control of the democratically elected parliaments of America's traditional friends in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, the Bush administration must have experienced change in Arabia's shifting sands long before the democrats won the latest American elections.

With Hezbollah pushing for bigger share of the Lebanese government after emerging more stronger from its duel with Israel and with the unstoppable advance of the Union of Islamic Courts, UIC, in Somalia, the Islamic movements are surely enjoying a political windfall resulting from America's ill-thought strategies and acerbic political rhetoric.

Another equally devastating consequence of Western democracy in the region is the astounding failure of women candidates to win seats. Only one Bahraini woman made history by winning a seat by default. Expectations are also high that women may fare better in the UAE where 65 women out of 465 candidates are vying for half of the 40 member parliament up for grabs in the country's first elections to be held in mid December.

Washington , however, may at least take credit of moving the ball of democracy in the region despite the unfavorable results. One may also argue that with the exception of the retrogressive Taliban-like Somali Islamists the region's opening up for democracy has strengthened the hand of benign Islamic forces against the apocalyptic Bin Ladan diehards.

The recent ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian militant groups and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's encouraging overture of withdrawals and removing of settlements in return for peace also breathe new optimism in the region. The emergence of a number of tabloids in the conservative Gulf countries, carrying more local and entertainment stories, may also put a smile on the face of the liberal hordes.

No wonder that Bin Laden and his lieutenants have been silent these days. They have even failed to gloat over the upsurge of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. They may realize for the first time that the civil wars raging in these two countries have become more of a farce than a cause.


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