Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Four leaders to watch

Over the next months and years, four men will shape the histories of their respective nations. It's interesting how similar they all are, not in personality, but in the problems facing them.

George W Bush has a divided nation before him, whichever way you look at it.

If he is to live up to even just the domestic elements of his inauguration (or should it be reauguration?) speech, he has a mammoth task ahead of him.

Not only that, America is in huge financial trouble. At least, this is the impression I've got from my varied news sources on the net. In such a materialistic society as the USA, this is Real Bad Trouble.

Some obviously think Bush is an evil blockhead; or a puppet of the incredibly wicked Christian Right.

Others - although I haven't read much of this - think he is a good man with good ideas who is bravely pushing ahead with what he believes is right, even if it's unpopular.

Whatever your opinion of Bush, it will be very interesting to watch the next four years.

Mahmoud Abbas also faces a divided nation - if Palestine can even be called a nation yet.

I don't have in-depth knowledge of the whole Palestinian situation, so I won't say much. But if this newcomer has really been able to negotiate a ceasefire with groups like Hammas and Islamic Jihad, he must have something to him!

Again, I don't know much of the situation, so I'm open to correction here, but my perception is that Islamic Jihad exists to make war - that's what the name means. So for Abbas to get these guys to agree to NOT make war ... I'm impressed!

Victor Yuschenko has finally taken his rightful place as President of Ukraine.

He, too presides over a divided country. East Ukraine generally supports ties to Russia, which is physically and ethnically closer to them. West Ukraine generally supports getting closer to the EU, and this is the direction Yuschenko has favoured too.

It will be interesting to see how Yuschenko keeps the promises he has made in his inauguration speech, particularly to prevent Ukraine becoming a "buffer zone or a battleground for anyone".

Them's fighting words. The kind of words that win hearts, and create national pride where it's needed most.

The fourth leader is unknown as yet. In fact, I'm not even sure if it'll be one person or a committee ... I'm talking about the elections in Iraq. The problems of Bush, Abbas and Yuschenko sort of pale into insignificance compared with the struggles ahead for Iraq's leadership. If you pray to anyone about anything, pray for Iraq. I'm sure it needs it right now!

4 Comments:

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Simon said...

A nice summary of the problems facing Iraq's new leadership when the votes are counted in a few weeks:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=2&ObjectID=10008916

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Simon said...

http://www.economist.com/agenda/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3663599&fsrc=nwl

The shiites got in, but thankfully they didn't get a majority. I think this is a good thing. The world doesn't need another Iran.

Meanwhile slightly to the west, the ceasefire between Palestine and Israel seems to be holding despite hiccups here and there.

 
At 6:47 PM, Blogger Simon said...

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=2&ObjectID=10119135

A new president elected - and a Kurd, no less. Quite a coup - thankfully, not a literal one.

Do you think having a minority in power makes for a safer government? Or is there a danger of the kurds feeling that it's payback time? Please comment...

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger Simon said...

This from ASSIST News gives the point of view of the local Assyrian Christians:

"THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAQ?
Who Speaks for the People!

By Jeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) -- An Assyrian Christian minister is sounding a note of caution about the current situation in Iraq.

In an article titled “The Islamic Republic of Iraq – Who Speaks for the People?” Assyrian Ken Joseph Jr. (the Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq) said a few months ago he had what he called a troubling conversation with Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaffari, about the future role of Islam in Iraq.

Joseph said he told al-Jaffari that non-Moslems are very concerned about the influence Islam would apparently have in the new government.

“Saddam Hussein, for all his faults,” Joseph said, “did not allow religious influence in the government. In particular when the Governing Council of the previous Iraqi government set up a constitution committee they specifically voted, across religious and ethnic lines, that there should be no mention of ideology or religion in the new Iraqi constitution. Why, when this was so clear and the feeling of the Iraqi people so clear, did you insist on having Article 7 - ‘Islam is the religion of the nation’”?

Al-Jaffari reportedly responded, “If we did not put Islam as the religion of the state, the people would revolt!”

Joseph said he told al-Jaffari, who has spent 23 years living outside Iraq, that he had lost touch with his people.

(“Iraqis) are secular,” Joseph told al–Jaffari. “Of course there are many, in the south mostly, who are somewhat religious, but the people do not want any involvement of the mullahs or religious leaders in government at all. They are very, very clear that they do not want to become anything even remotely like Iran.”

Al- Jaffari seemed shocked, Joseph wrote, and was about to disagree when an Iraqi aide reportedly told him, “He (Joseph) is right. The people have changed. They do not want any part in any form of religion in government.”

Joseph commented, “It was a very telling moment for .... the head of the (radical Islamic) Dawa Party ... and a close confident of Mr. Sistani, the Iranian head of the Shiite movement in Iraq.”

Then a few days ago, Joseph wrote, he talked with Lakhdar Brahimi, the former Algerian foreign minister, and the man appointed by Kofi Annan to put together a government following the handing over of power by the Coalition Provisional Authority in July 2004.

Brahimi was reportedly unapologetic for moving Iraq away from its secular government, Joseph wrote, “to an Islamic path in defiance of the will of the people.”

According to Joseph, Brahimi said, I simply facilitated things. I have no agenda other than to let the Iraqi people express their will.”

Joseph admitted that al-Jaffari said that when in power he would protect the rights of minorities. Al-Jaffari reportedly told Joseph, “When things settle down, come and see me again. I will assign a team from the government to go with you all over Iraq, and we will do a survey of the Assyrian Christians to find out their needs and put in place measures to help and protect them.”

Joseph said there is still hope. “1,500 plus American heroes did not die to create ‘The Islamic Republic Of Iraq,’ nor were lives given to deny the poor Iraqi people their voice.”

The next battle in Iraq will be over the constitution, Joseph said. If al-Jaffari and others “who are out of touch with the Iraqi people” have their way, Iraq will become the “Islamic Republic of Iraq.”

However, Joseph added. “If the Iraqi peoples’ voice can truly be heard, it will be simply ‘The Republic of Iraq.’”

Joseph said, “The world must stand on the side of the long- suffering Iraqi people, who after getting rid of one nightmare do not deserve to have another.”

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For more information about Ken Joseph go to http://www.assyrianchristians.com/about_ken_joseph.htm

 

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