President Bush says once there is a regime change in Iraq, the United States will work towards establishing a “democratic Iraq.” But many analysts say that will be a very difficult task, considering the country’s history and ethnic and religious make-up.
Youssef Ibrahim is a former correspondent for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and a former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. From New York, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about whether any seeds of democracy currently exist in Iraq. He says, “This country has never known anything that resembles democracy. It was drawn on a leisurely afternoon on a napkin apparently by Winston Churchill …and was followed by numerous coups d’etat.”
He says the Bush administration must begin “by making sure the country does not disintegrate.” The former correspondent says he’s concerned about possible fighting between the Turks and the Kurds in the north and Iranian backed uprisings in the south. The second thing is to avoid a civil war and then try to form a government, which he says may have to come from the military.
He warns that the only really organized political movements in many countries in the region are Islamic fundamentalist groups. He says if democratic elections could be held, they would probably be won by fundamentalists who may never hold another election again. Mr. Ibrahim says the Bush administration must deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue if it is to “win the peace” in Iraq and elsewhere.
He says he’s also concerned about the state of the US media and how many broadcast outlets do not appear to be providing objective reporting, but rather what he calls “the American view.” He says the US coverage is in sharp contrast to that being broadcast by the Al Jezeera network, which is broadcasting images that could inflame the Muslim and Arab world.
Click above links to download or listen to de Capua interview.