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Monday, January 31, 2005

Associated Press Borrows A Clue

Iraqi Election May Affect Middle East.

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Iraq's election, however imperfect, could increase pressure on other authoritarian Arab countries to begin political reforms and hold free balloting.

"The Americans were able to hold elections in Iraq and that made them much more comfortable in carrying on with their policies in the Middle East," said Lebanese political analyst Ali Hamadeh. "They showed everybody that you can carry on with an electoral process even when you have security problems."

Hamadeh said the message of the election is that if Iraq could carry out "an all-weather democratic process" there is no excuse for other countries not to reform.

Many are feeling the pressure at least to make a show of democratic reform, and 2005 is shaping up to be the year of Middle East elections, even if few of them are expected to threaten the established regimes.

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