Myth of the Moderate Mullahs

Jan. 31, 2004

By REZA BULORCHI & NIR BOMS     

Defying conventional wisdom, fresh voices of freedom appear to be coming from the Middle East of late.

Assad of Syria delivers his plans for democratization directly to The New York Times. Gaddafi of Libya delivers his to Newsweek, as he claims to be an ally in the war against terrorism and invites the world to review his nuclear arsenal. Khatami of Iran, the “moderate” president, threatens to resign due to an election crisis resulting from the Guardian Council’s decision to disqualify more than 3,000 candidates from the ballot of his country’s upcoming elections. Among the disqualified candidates were 80 incumbent parliament deputies, including two deputy speakers.

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Viva la Reformers!

January 28, 2004
By Reza Bulorchi and Nir Boms

Defying conventional wisdom, fresh voices of freedom appear to be coming from the Middle East as of late. Assad of Syria delivers his plans for democratization directly to the New York Times. Khaddafi of Libya delivers his to Newsweek, as he claims to be an ally in the war against terrorism and invites the world to review his nuclear arsenal. Khatami of Iran, the “moderate” President, threatens to resign due to an election crisis resulting from the Guardian Council’s decision to disqualify more than 3,000 candidates from the ballot of his country’s upcoming February 20 elections. Among the disqualified candidates were 80 incumbent Parliament deputies – including two deputy speakers. The banning of candidates, of course, is never a positive step. But the political crisis brewing in Iran must clearly show that voices of freedom are indeed making headway there – right?

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On to Damascus

Feb. 14, 2004
On to Damascus
By NIR BOMS & ERICK STAKELBECK

Last month at the Free University of Brussels, just 200 meters from the Syrian Embassy, a group of Syrians gathered to discuss something that can only whispered about in their native land – freedom.

The scene was the second conference of the Syrian Democratic Coalition (SDC), a union of pro-democracy groups comprised of both resident Syrians and those living abroad. Under the auspices of the Belgian government representatives of 19 Syrian political parties, civil rights and student organizations gathered from January 17-19 to discuss replacing the world’s last remaining Ba’ath Party dictatorship with a secular democracy.

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Egyptian politics

 

By Nir Boms and Benjamin Balint
Published March 2, 2007

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CAIRO

. — Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Egypt’s leading democracy activist, hangs two photographs in his modest office at the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies in Cairo. One shows him with Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House; the other is a portrait of Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. This juxtaposition tellingly captures some the current state of mind of Egypt’s pro-democracy opposition: insecure and not certain where to turn to. View full post…

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