Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Yesterday, Abu Mazen/Mahmud Abbas was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. I still think the more interesting figure to watch is Muhammad Dahlan, whose appointment as Internal Affairs Minister was the main sticking point in his struggle with Arafat. Among Dahlan's political beliefs is that Israel is successful in part because it is a democracy, which means its leaders must deliver on their promises to keep power. In addition, he has said he respects David Ben Gurion as a political leader because he accepted only part of the land the Jews wanted and chose to build that rather than keep fighting forever hoping to win everything. Last night, I heard an MSNBC reporter say as a sort of throw-in before ending his report that most of Abu Mazen's inaugural speech emphasized the need for one Palestinian Authority. If so, that sounds significant: It was the argument used by Ben Gurion when he gave the order to sink the Altalena, a ship carrying supplies to a militant Jewish organization in the 1940's.

At work, I've been doing some web site revisions, and am looking at a lot of web sites for possible linking purposes. This banner headline from the Yemen Times struck an interesting note in how much we take our democracy for granted. The fact the 2000 election was settled openly and legally through the court system has been a major crisis, and has the losing side still sometimes complaining that Bush was "unelected." A quote I read from the recent Nigerian elections was something like: "Well, I've cast my vote. What the big men decide to do now is out of my hands." Are we simply naive about our own system, as the far left would claim? Maybe. But I think it's more likely we're lucky to have it. In Qatar, they just voted to have a Parliament in which 2/3 of the members will be elected by universal suffrage. And in the Qatari media, it's still the Emir in the picture voting.
UPDATE: The Yemen Times headline has now changed. It was "14 Injured in Generally Successful Elections" following by "No Surpises!" above a graph showing the ruling party had swept to an overwhelming victory.

By the way, this blog passed 30 hits for the first time yesterday, including two google searches. In case you read it to learn about me, sorry I've been lying low lately. Most of the interesting stuff happening I don't want to post on-line for one reason or another. (Work stuff, for example)

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