So, nothing really new is happening in the Middle East that the Bush administration could take credit for.By Marion Delgado at 4:42 AM
Democracy Now! | Juan Cole and Osama Siblani on Middle East Politics, U.S. Media Coverage of the Region, and the Arab American Landscape:
Oh yeah. Not I heard the explosion -- actually, we had glass where I was. You know, the whole glass just shattered all over the people who were sitting, and I was away from the windows, you know. My chair just jumped like a couple feet. And I saw him just maybe 10-15 minutes earlier. I was supposed to meet with him the next day. Yes, I was in Lebanon. And, you know, Amy, I just rest my case. I think the professor made a very good presentation reflective of the situation in Lebanon and in the Arab world. Yes, he is right that Lebanese have had elections since 1948 and the 1950s, and every your years they had them. After the civil war in 1992, and then in 1996 and then in 2000, and now they're having them again. It's a parliamentary election, and it's not, you know, democratic 100%, but it's much better than what happened in Iraq, for example. Also, in Palestine, you know, that Mr. Bush is trying to claim credit for the election. There was an election in Palestine, in the occupied territory seven years ago. They elected the council of Palestine, the National Council, and also they elected a president at that time, who was Yasser Arafat. So, nothing really new is happening in the Middle East that the Bush administration could take credit for. And I think the situation in Iraq, the election in Iraq, was something made for television for an American audience, so Mr. Bush can claim credit for something that he really does not deserve. Yes, you can't fight, you know, back and say, you know, what is happening in Iraq is not a step forward in democracy. It's much better, you know, to have people have the right to vote under these circumstances, rather than having a dictatorship run by a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, but again, the situation in Iraq is not about democracy. I met with the President, and he wanted to go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he considered the regime an imminent and gathering threat against the United States.AMY GOODMAN:
You met with the President of the United States?OSAMA SIBLANI:
Yes, when he was running for election in May of 2000 when he was a governor. He told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 republicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And I said, ‘Well, you know, I totally disagree with you. You just can’t go around taking leaders out of their countries, you know. Let the Iraqi people do it. They can't do it on empty stomachs. Lift sanctions. Keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein, but lift the sanctions on the Iraqi people. People can't make moves on an empty stomach. Once they start establishing, you know, a connection with the United States and helping democracy inside, they will overthrow him.’ And then he said, ‘We have to talk about it later.’ But at that time he was not privy to any intelligence, and the democrats had occupied the White House for the previous eight years. So, he was not privy to any intelligence whatsoever. He was not the official nominee of the Republican Party, so he didn't know what kind of situation the weapons of mass destruction was at that time. But what I am saying now is the President is trying to claim credit for something that really had nothing to do with him. The Palestinians had elections seven years ago. They have had an election last month, and also the Lebanese, what the professor said that this is a situation that is happening in Lebanon because there is a -- there is a formula in Lebanon that always, always Lebanon -- part of the Lebanese communities try to get help from the outside in order to gain more power and bring more cards to the table for bargaining."