The Bush Doctrine Takes Off in the Middle East

Regardless on how the Western media wants to color the Mideast, never has this region seen such an amazing shift towards democracy and human rights in such a very short period of time. To put things in perspective, here is a partial list of the remarkable moves towards democracy and human rights in the region from just this last year:

* Successful elections twice in Iraq
* Successful elections twice in Afghanistan
* Violence free (for the most part) change of government in Lebanon
* Democratic Elections in Palestine
* Pardons for jailed democracy reformists in Saudi Arabia
* Women rights guarantees in Kuwait
* Movement in Egypt towards reform
* Reform in Libya
* Historic talks between Israel and Pakistan
* Israel pullout from Gaza
* Massive Protests against Al Qaida in Morocco
* Protests against Al Qaida in Jordan
* Saudi Arabia lifts economic boycott on Israel
* Saudi Arabia open to talks on allowing women to drive

And, as the moves towards freedom and democracy take place in one country, it puts pressure on the next. The region is in some sort of psychic shift and it is doubtful that it will stop soon or that it will stop at the border of Syria or Iran.

More Good News from the Middle East

Today Condoleezza Rice continued her Mideast trip with a stop in Saudi Arabia, a nation where women are not even allowed to drive. Who better to send into the region to shake things up a bit than the brilliant Dr. Rice. The visit ended with an agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia to continue the fight on terror and the Saudis pledged 1 billion dollars to help rebuild Iraq:

Saudi Arabia and the United States vowed on Sunday to strengthen cooperation in fighting terrorism, rebuilding Iraq and reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to reports reaching here.

During a joint news conference with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the two sides have agreed to further cooperate in the battle against terrorism, pledging more anti-terrorism measures.

Rice, on her part, urged Saudi Arabia to do more to combat terrorism.

“We have made progress but there is always more progress that can be made and I am certain that the Saudi government can do better. I’m certain that all of us can do better,” Rice said. As to the rebuilding of Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003, Faisal said Saudi Arabia would contribute 1 billion US dollars to Iraq’s reconstruction.

Rice spoke on the positive but “sometimes” gradual moves towards democracy in the Middle East:

“We are not naive about the pace or the difficulty of democratic change,” Rice said in remarks prepared for delivery during a memorial forum honoring slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Even so, she said, “we know that the longing for democratic change is deep and urgently felt.”

Rice spoke a day after part of the White House democracy agenda ran into trouble. An international conference on democracy in the Middle East ended without a formal agreement because Egypt threw up last-minute road blocks.

Rice is on a Middle East swing that began in Iraq and included Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In Israel, she will see Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and then Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. She also plans a brief stop in Jordan on Monday to show solidarity with a U.S. ally rocked by terrorist bombings that killed more than 50 people last week.

Crossroads Arabia has news on Saudi women and cinema and positive changes on that front along with other positive news from the region including Saudi Arabia dropping their economic boycott of Israeli goods.

Update: (Monday PM) Obviously, there is a ways to go as we see in the headlines at the Washington Times, but that does not take away from the progress that is being made. (via Stefania at Free Thoughts)

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