Fading U.S. democracy agenda evokes Arab scorn | U.S. | Reuters: “By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent – Analysis
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Western backing for the legally disputed emergency government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demolished any lingering Arab belief that U.S. President George W. Bush’s ‘freedom agenda’ is going anywhere.
Both critics and advocates of the sweeping goals he laid out for his second term in 2005 agree that power politics and the ‘war on terrorism’ have trumped democratic principles.
They say this was clear from the moment the United States and the European Union boycotted the government set up by Hamas in March 2006 after the Islamists trounced Abbas’s Fatah faction in free elections that Washington had insisted go ahead.
‘That was the hair in the soup in terms of the democracy agenda,’ said Lebanese commentator Michael Young, who had supported Bush’s thesis that invading Iraq in 2003 would undermine undemocratic Arab regimes elsewhere.
‘The U.S. response (to Hamas’s election win) was: ‘we’ll accept democracy but not if it means the other side can win’.’
Now, Washington has embraced as ‘legitimate’ the cabinet Abbas named after Hamas routed his Fatah forces in Gaza on June 14. The EU also endorsed Abbas’s actions as constitutional.
Yet the main authors of the Palestinian constitution, or Basic Law, say Abbas has exceeded his powers and needs the approval of parliament to keep the government in place.
Many Palestinians feel the West had already trampled on their democracy in its rush to isolate Hamas for its refusal to recognize Israel, abandon violence or accept past peace accords.”
“The U.S. response (to Hamas’s election win) was: ‘we’ll accept democracy but not if it means the other side can win’.”