Elections were successful but they are only a stage. No party was strong enough to make up a government - a good sign that has been recorded in the democratic process for reaching a compromise. The European dogma was that democracy had no place in Iraq. The Middle East was afraid that it worked. Neighboring tyrannies feel threatened by the Iraqi democracy. What is happening in Iraq has a great impact on Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf. There is also the example of Eastern Europe and the communication revolution. News and ideas have spread globally as quick as lightning.
In theory, the Turkish democracy has worked very well since the 1920’s, but the government lost elections for the first time in 1950. The opposition came to power, which meant a historical break in the region. The paradox is that democracy was saved three times by the military. The fourth time was harder. In Turkey they call it “our first postmodern coup”. The regime is currently an Islamist one. The official opinion is that as there were democrat-Christians in Germany, there can be a democrat-Muslim party. For others, it is an attempt to put an end to the secularization instituted by Atatürk. The army cannot intervene anymore. Otherwise, the opportunity to join the EU, if any, would be in danger. The women’s situation is the most critical issue for democracy in the Islamist countries. There are hopes concerning this matter in Iraq, where the women’s position, as in Tunisia, is better than in other states. In Turkey and Pakistan, there have been women prime ministers. Iraqi electors are wise enough to see danger, fundamentalists didn’t win. One reason was the presence of the Iraqi theocracy in their sight.
I’ve seen no significant changes in Israel since Abbas, came to power - the main problem is still there. Is it about Israel’s existence or its size? If Palestinians make up a State, will they do it next to Israel or in its place? In school manuals, in the maps, in speeches, Israel’s existence is denied. The best that we can hope is a ceasefire. Israel’s situation is controversial, some want to stop evacuation by all means. The greatest danger of this evacuation comes from the Palestinians, some resort to terror to oppose the evacuation. Many admit that the Israelis cannot live among Palestinians while the contrary is possible. The UN has admitted this since 1948-1949.

Die Welt (Germany)

Iraks Demokratie bedroht die Nachbarn”, by Bernard Lewis, Die Welt, June 23, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.