The way back
Sir-- As with the equivalent in many other countries, Article 76 is intended to maintain power in the hands of the elite and to identify supporters of parties and independents. Those who hope for a transition to democracy should not hold their breaths; the reality is, all political parties are controlled by the sources of election campaign funding and all policies are imposed on the electorate. This is the opposite of democracy. This constraint applies also to independent candidates who purport to make decisions on behalf of their electorates. Only those candidates who bond themselves in writing, to convey to parliament the documented informed consensus of their respective electorates, are engaging in genuine democracy. For Egyptians who despair of achieving the "democracy" of the West, don't feel too bad. in Australia, criticism of government is now an act of sedition, and the formation of new political parties is now banned and old smaller parties are now deregistered. There are no democracies in the world today. However, you may yet be the first in modern times and there is no reason why a Muslim nation should not lead the way back to genuine democracy.
All the best
Sir-- I hope that the people of Egypt will someday be living in a free and democratic country, where the son of the president is not already called presidential. I hope you will have a free press, real free elections and a mature democracy. Recently, I read a book from a Dutch journalist working in the Middle East, Joris Luyendijk. It's called "Het zijn net mensen" (They're just like people). I hope this book will be translated into English so that you can read what our ideal is of how to run a country.
Peter van Deelen
Smoke and mirrors
Sir-- One year later, what did Lebanon win from the war? We have received no land, the Palestinian issue fell off the world agenda, Iraq is still a mess, Lebanon has become much more unstable, and thousands of people have lost their lives. Sorry, but we do not want to be anybody's bargaining chip or proxy war. Take your adventures somewhere else. A strong, educated, and prosperous Lebanon and Arab world is better. Why doesn't the Arab world first figure out how to defeat the criminals murdering people in Iraq? The "victory" was all smoke and mirrors. Is it Israel fault that Syria, Egypt, Iraq have a poor and uneducated population? The enemy is not Israel. It is an uneducated population that is ripe to be exploited by religious fundamentalists. Invest in our people, not in guns. Haven't you figured that out yet?
Sir-- The presence of a militia/mafia is negating Lebanon's sovereignty and the authority of its democratically elected government. Militias, including this one with its superficial discipline, are not professional military units but renegades and mercenaries serving the will of their master and not the people or the state. The Arab countries should not continue to place their hopes on such weak military tools -- that should be obvious after the last 50 years -- or they will continue to face poverty, defeat, and disappointment. Internal accountability, honest negotiations, mutual respect and civilised behaviour will go much further to achieving a lasting peace with Israel and the rest of the world. Fear, violence, and hate beget more of the same.
Away from Bush
Sir-- A functioning democracy has the constant conflict and compromise of differing state interests, yet relies on the federal government to arbitrate impartially. This is a system that Iraqis do not know, and it will take time and growth in both the interest of the state, and the interest of the country, to see the benefit. In your catastrophist view, there is no way out; sectarian violence will continue to rise, and perhaps it is best if the US just leaves now and allows insurgents and sects to tear each other apart. I do not adhere to this view. As we know, the Bush administration has repeatedly bungled the execution of any so-called plan for Iraq. It is time that we begin to move away from President Bush's intentions in Iraq and focus on what the American people, and keen American leaders, will be able to provide this fledgeling state.
Let them decide
Sir-- The question one ought to ask is: Are the Palestinian leaders really ready for peace with Israel? The answer is definitely not. As long as the turmoil is perpetuated these leaders will feel they are important to the people and will not want to give up those privileges. There should be a referendum and let the people decide their own fate, but first the Palestinians should have the common sense to stop the firing of missiles into Israel.
Displeased on Darfur
Sir-- Your paper urges an international protectorate structure through the UN to guide Iraq back to stability, and yet you seem to take a provincial view regarding the genocide that is happening in Darfur. I have a very high regard for your newspaper, but I am disappointed in your position.
Charged with violence
Sir-- I wonder why the Muslim world has completely missed the delicious irony in the fact that, when accused of using violence to promote Islam, Muslims respond with violence.