Middle East: The Right to Choose

It’s all about elections. Following his own victory, President George Bush has intensified the campaign in Iraq to clear the way for elections in January. And in response to the death of Yasser Arafat he is calling for Palestinian democracy too. But can he live with the results?

The World Today
5 minute READ

Rosemary Hollis

Former Director, Olive Tree Israeli-Palestinian Scholarship Programme, City, University of London

In Iraq the intention is to crack down on insurgents, foreign terrorist elements and other would-be spoilers of elections planned for early next year. The fate of Falluja, hitherto the stronghold of the resistance, will be the test of a strategy to extend interim Iraqi government control to this and other towns in the centre of the country and thereby make their participation in elections possible.

Even though many Iraqis refute the notion that their country is divided along sectarian lines, the perception prevails around the region and beyond that without mass participation of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority at the ballot box, the new assembly will lack the inclusiveness needed to gain legitimacy.

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