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Rice On The Middle East

On May 29th, the people of Lebanon will begin the process of electing one-hundred-twenty-eight members of the Lebanese parliament. Earlier in the month, the Kuwaiti legislature granted its women citizens the right to vote. And Egypt amended its constitution to provide for multiple candidates in the presidential election scheduled in September.

In Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East, says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the people "are expressing ideas and taking actions that would have been unthinkable only one year ago":

"To be sure, a vital source of inspiration for all of these reformers comes from the people of Iraq who defied threats of murder to vote in free elections in January. They declared with one voice that the will of the people, not the whim of a dictator, would determine Iraq's future. They declared with that same voice that no Iraqi regime would ever again torture its people or invade its neighbors." (END ACT) Secretary of State Rice says that the day of thinking that the Middle East "was somehow immune to democracy is over":

"Cynics and skeptics cannot see a democratic Middle East, so they doubt that it is a realistic goal. They focus only on the despotism that has shaped the region's past and still defines much of the present. But...make no mistake, freedom is on the march in Afghanistan and Iraq and in Lebanon and in Georgia and Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and in the Palestinian territories."

Progress is uneven. "There are violent men who will stop at nothing to prevent democracy's rise," says Ms. Rice. "Yet people all across the Middle East are today talking and demonstrating and sharing their vision for a democratic future."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.