Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday described Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the Palestinians' best chance for peace ...
This is fantastic, really. Call me a warmongering neocon, but I don't think this would have happened without Saddam's ousting. Credit where it's due, though: in describing Sharon as Palestinians' best chance for peace, Mubarak made himself a pretty damn good chance for peace as well. Could it be that Arabs start competing with Israelis over who can be the best chance for peace? That'd be nice.
However, Mubarak also said
... that [the Fatah leader] Marwan Barghouti's decision to run in the elections for Palestinian Authority chairman had damaged Palestinian unity.
"Fatah has nominated Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and Abu Mazen, I think, will be the one to win," Mubarak said, referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre.
"There is Marwan al-Barghouti. ... It splits the Palestinian line and we urge the Palestinians that there should be one voice and no differences at a time when we need to stay clear of differences," Mubarak said in comments broadcast on state television.
Here, Mubarak demonstrates very clearly both his understanding of and his attitude towards democracy. Why does poisonous crap like this never meet with outrage; why is it received as if it's just routine diplomatic opinion? Let's just paraphrase it a bit, shall we?
Kim Jong-il said that Michael Howard's decision to run in the British general election had damaged British unity.
"Labour have nominated Tony Blair, and Blair, I think, will be the one to win," Kim Jong-il said.
"There is Michael Howard. It splits the British line and we urge the British that there should be one voice and no difference at a time when we need to stay clear of differences."
Suddenly sounds a tad less diplomatic, doesn't it? I think we all know why a dictator might not think that now is the time for opposition candidates for any given value of "now".
The Palestinians have demonstrated before that they have a pretty good grasp of democracy: there were loads of candidates who stood against Arafat, many of whom didn't routinely kill anyone. Arafat rigged his election, surprisingly enough, and that is largely what led to the problems the Palestinians now face: they have been suffering under an uncompromising, violent, and thoroughly corrupt dictatorship, when they could have had genuine democracy. Their dictator's dead now, and they've got another chance. Let them have it, I say. I don't want to see the Palestinians speaking with one voice. No population of more than about four people ever speaks with one voice; even a jury of twelve has difficulty. Show me a large group of people speaking as one, and I'll show you rule by terror. It's the Tirana Index.
So, please, Palestinians, ignore Mubarak: you don't want your country to end up like his. Let al-Barghouti stand, even if he is a murdering bastard whom I sincerely hope the Israelis will never allow out of his cell; and let a dozen or a score or a hundred other Palestinians stand, too. Have a few debates. And good luck to the lot of you.