For Arab Democracy

(Baltimore Sun) Robert Freedman and Mohamed Hamdi - As a start on the road map to democratization, both the U.S. and the EU should make economic aid to the Arab world conditional on the establishment in recipient Arab countries of genuine freedom of the press. A free press: Would limit the authoritarian nature of a regime. Would mean that opposing corruption would not be left only to radical Islamists, who put it at the top of their political agenda. Would mean multiple voices in the public arena - secular and Islamic - that could compete openly for the public's attention. Islamists would have a stake in the existing system. Would inspire the creation of political parties, which often are focused around newspapers. Independent political parties would be another check on authoritarianism. Both the Palestinian Authority, which has pledged to democratize as part of its commitment to the U.S.-engineered "road map" to an Israeli-Palestinian peace, and Iraq, which is under U.S. military control, would appear to be the best candidates to try conditioned U.S. and European Union financial aid.

2003-11-14 00:00:00

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