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Review of the Arab press (UPI) VIA-WASHINGTON TIMES) Amman, Jordan 01/31/05)Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20050131-072244-6121r.htm UPI} UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL UPI} UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Amman, Jordan, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Arab press roundup for Jan. 31:

Arab newspapers Monday highlighted news and commentaries on the Iraqi general elections that took place Sunday, with some criticizing them and others praising them. The London-based al-Quds al-Arabi said the high turnout of voters showed the Iraqi people wanted democracy like all other Arabs living under tyrannical regimes, but insisted that did not mean the polls were "real" or that the results will get Iraq out of its escalating crisis and move towards substantial democracy. The independent Palestinian-owned daily asked: "What is this democracy that President George W. Bush praises when the voters don´t even know the names of the candidates or know their political programs?" It opined that the "American elections in Iraq" had sent the "worst kind of message to the Arab masses because it is a democracy that was imposed by the occupation, came on the corpses of 100,000 Iraqis and based on ethnic and sectarian considerations." The paper, with pan-Arab nationalist trends, said democracy was public participation in determining the formation of government and political system, "but the democracy of the mini-American Iraqi government" had isolated the Sunni sect and areas in Iraq. It added the interim government had sentenced the Sunnis to political death and that what happened in Iraq was a "poisoned democracy." It said the elections in Iraq were like U.S. elections taking place without the participation of New York, Florida and California, adding these would not be considered legitimate elections.

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Lebanon´s independent Daily Star said in its editorial that Iraqis ignored the threats of terrorism to cast their ballots as dozens lost their lives for the opportunity to vote. The independent daily said it hoped that the elections, the effort, the financial cost and human sacrifice was worth it, but added the "ultimate test of the value of the sacrifice will be whether the months ahead will see recognition on the part of the country´s Shiites and Kurds that Sunnis were mostly not part of Sunday´s election process." It said that whatever the reasons for a Sunni absence, "the fact remains they are still Iraqis and that the outcome of the vote is not 100 percent legitimate without them." It argued that was why the results of the elections were not conclusive, "despite their historic status, being the first important step in what will hopefully be a new Iraq that has shaken off the yoke of tyranny." The paper said it was thus necessary for the majority Shiites and the occupying power of the United States, to "safeguard the Sunnis and their legitimate interests," adding that they must guarantee a future role for them in the country if further violence was to be avoided. "Washington´s blundering has already cost too much in blood and destruction," the paper said, "lessons should have been learned." It insisted that it was the Iraqis who had the greatest stake in their country, not the United States, adding that "if Sunday´s sacrifices are to be judged by history as warranted, the democratic process must be taken beyond this first step."

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The United Arab Emirates´ al-Khaleej said in its editorial that the most important thing to do after the Iraqi elections was to end the occupation and for Iraq to retrieve its sovereignty. The pro- government daily, with Islamic leanings, said the results of the polls should be invested to "make a substantial and effective transformation in Iraqi affairs towards solidifying internal unity and dispelling the winds of sedition." It called for a scheduled withdrawal of the foreign occupation from Iraq "so that the Iraqis really feel they have been liberated, as opposed to the situation until now, where they moved from tyranny to colonialism." The paper asked whether it would be possible to stop efforts of those seeking Kurdish secession in the north, warning that separating Kurdistan "would infect the south to change it to southistan, and the center to become centeristan, creating endless struggles."

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The London-based ash-Sharq al-Awsat said the Iraqi people have thrown the ball into their politicians court after sending a message to all the parties and groups that the people were "loyal despite the threat of death and explosions" by standing in lines to cast their ballots. The Saudi-owned daily said the Iraqi leaders emerging from the elections will be responsible before the people, saying the "biggest crime they can commit against themselves and the electorate is to push the Iraqi people again to frustration or kill the spirit of hope the Iraqis created by succeeding in the polls." It insisted the Iraqi people would accept nothing less than establishing the rule of law in which all institutions are respected and violence comes to an end. The paper added that Iraqi politicians were before a huge test after the masses showed they wanted to build a strong and prosperous country, adding that the politicians should be up to this challenge by taking responsibility with "a lot of awareness and persistence."

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Jordan´s independent al-Ghad daily ran a political cartoon on the Iraqi elections, indicating that only a small, but happy, minority had participated in the polls. Iraq is depicted through the back of a hand, with only the index finger standing alone and covered in ink with a smiling face on the fingernail. Unhappy and angry faces are seen on the three other fingers and thumb. (Copyright 2005 United Press International 01/31/05)


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