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The State of the Globe 2004/2005: The Middle East — A Work in Progress

Will anybody take the first step in the Middle East?

December 31, 2004

Will anybody take the first step in the Middle East?

There is little indication that the upheaval in which much of the Middle East has found itself since 9/11 is about to abate. Reforms in many Arab countries are stalled and Iraq is continuing to boil. But there are also some positive signs, including possibly a thawing of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Our Read My Lips feature offers the key turning points of the current debate.

“The special challenge that confronts Muslims is to drag ourselves out of the pit we find ourselves in, to raise ourselves up by individual achievement and collective socioeconomic emancipation.”
(Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf, June 2004)

“Al Jazeera might be the only remaining base of Arab nationalism that exists.”
(Jehane Noujaim, Egyptian-American filmmaker, April 2004)

“Iraq would be the last place I would choose for an experiment in introducing democracy — as the current chaos demonstrates.”
(George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, September 2004)

“The Arabs should have been the ones to bring down Saddam, in defense of their own dignity — and their own true interests.”
(Osama al-Ghazali Harb, Egypt’s Al Ahram center for strategic studies, February 2004)

“There is no doubt that the Americans’ losses are very heavy because they are deployed across a wide area and among the people — and because it is easy to procure weapons. All of which makes them easy and mouthwatering targets for the believers.”
(Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Jordanian terrorist, October 2004)

“Anti-Iraq forces want to steal the future from you. They will coerce, intimidate and twist the minds of your children. The sons of Falluja are being led like lambs to the slaughter.”
(Text distributed by Iraqi police offers in Falluja, November 2004)

“Saudi Arabia provides almost laboratory conditions to incubate thousands of bin Ladens.”
(David Gardner, leader writer for the Financial Times, July 2004)

“Saudi Arabia is like France a week before the French Revolution under Louis XVI.”
(Marc Faber, managing director of Marc Faber Ltd., January 2004)

“With this new money, the royal family can keep going for another generation.”
(Saudi lawyer, November 2004)

“As a secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim population, Turkey offers the antithesis of the clash-of-civilizations scenario.”
(Dr. Bahadir Kaleagasi, representative of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association, October 2004)

“I am a democrat in my office — and a Muslim in my household.”
(Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, May 2004)

“If a respected successor to Arafat can be chosen by the Palestinians — not by the Israelis or Americans — then there is a new opportunity to initiate peace negotiations.”
(Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President, November 2004)

“There is no option of sitting and doing nothing. Israel’s interest requires a disengagement on a wider scale than what will happen as part of the current disengagement plan.”
(Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, December 2004)

“Although America is often the target, Europe has been the real factory of Arab-Muslim rage.”
(Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, January 2004)

“The only time the Pashtun are at peace with themselves is when they are at war.”
(National Geographic magazine, December 2004)