May 23, 2004

EITHER I’VE BEEN TRANSPORTED TO SOME SORT OF BEARDED-SPOCK PARALLEL UNIVERSE (er, or maybe from one) or things are looking at least a bit better in the mideast. Check out this story: Arab Leaders Promise Democratic Reforms:

TUNIS (Reuters) – Arab governments, responding to a U.S. campaign for Arab democracy, have promised to carry out political and social reforms in an oil-rich region which includes some of the world’s most repressive rulers.

In documents read out at the end of a two-day Arab summit in Tunis on Sunday, the 22 Arab League members promised to promote democracy, expand popular participation in politics and public affairs, reinforce women’s rights and expand civil society.

It’s not all peace and love, but this is progress. And it’s amazing how much easier it is to address “root causes” once you’ve dragged a Maximum Leader out of a spider hole for his colleagues to see. True, this is mostly lipservice so far, but so were the Helsinki Accords at the time.

Then there’s this: Arab League to Condemn Attacks Against Israelis:

Arab leaders meeting in Tunisia Saturday for a summit on political reform and the Arab-Israeli conflict are expected to adopt a resolution condemning attacks against both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

If the resolution is passed, it will be the first formal condemnation of Palestinian suicide attacks against Israelis in the Arab world.

That they’re even talking about this is a big deal. And from reading both stories in full, it’s clear that there’s a lot of diplomatic horsetrading going on. I hope the State Department gets it right.

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