Tag Archives: reform

Saudi Arabia Appoints Woman To Ministerial Position

The appointment last week of a woman to an important ministerial position raises questions as to whether King Abdullah is trying to make some dramatic shifts in the nature of his kingdom. The selection of Ms. Norah al-Fayez is an indication the King is disappointed with the religious police and hard liners who spend their time harassing young people for doing ordinary things like walk in a mall. Religious police have embarrassed Saudi authorities angry by chasing young people in the streets and forcing them into mosques for prayers, and they have grossly violated the rights of migrants whose work is vitally important to the nation.

The replacement of the conservative chief justice Salih al-Lihaidan was another sign of frustration on the part of Abdullah who wants to move his nation into the 21st century. A modern society can not simply ignore half of its citizens and hope to be productive. There is a new generation of Saudi leaders waiting to assume greater control for directing the nation. They know oil will not last forever and there is need to develop high tech components to the economy and educate youth for a global world.

Wither Iran-Reform Or Reaction?

Among the most important foreign policy decisions confronting newly elected Barack Obama will be developing lines of communication with the government of Iran. In 2001, then reform President Mohammed Khatami, cooperated with the Bush administration in its invasion of Afghanistan only to be rewarded with insults and anger which most probably helped lead to the election of Ahmadinejad. Khatami informed reform groups in Iran that either he or Mir-Hossein Mousavi would run as candidates for the presidency this year. “I will tell the reformists and those who may not belong to the reformist(camp) but would like to see a change in the current situation, and with respect for all who have announced or will announce their candidacies that, God willing, (either I) or Mr. Mousavi will be the reform candidate.”

A reform leader in Iran would greatly assist Obama to create the basis of a genuine dialogue for peace in the Middle East. It will also be necessary for Obama to reign in hotheads in Israel who are bent are creating another crisis with talk of attacking Iran.

Wither Reform In Iran?

The Bush administration has consistently focused on portraying Iran as the focal point of terrorism in the Middle East and has ignored opportunities to foster reform in that nation. Former president Mohammad Khatami, who assisted the United States invasion of Afghanistan and was rewarded with hate and anger by Bush, is being urged to run for the presidency of his nation in 2009. Khatami has responded by raising questions as to what is the best strategy for reformers to accomplish their aims– in the political arena or elsewhere? “The reason that I have so far not reached a decision on contesting the election is that I believe that first, certain major questions should be answered. It should be determined whether one can institutionalize reforms n society and the country without being in power.”

Khatami raised issues as to whether the cause of reform is best served by working through the infrastructure of society such as in the clergy, among intellectuals or in social groups. These undoubtedly are important questions, but Iran could benefit by having Khatami or someone like him in the presidency. Ahmadinejad’s wild comments only damage the fight for reform in Iran.

Spanish Socialists Gain Victory

Sppain’s Socialist Prime Minister Jose Zapatero won a convincing general election by capturing nearly 44% of the vote. Although his party is several seats short of a majority in parliament. Nearly forty years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, there still remain forces within Spain who want a return to the ideas of the dead leader such as ending the rights of women to control their bodies. The victory is an indication the people of Spain agree with Zapatero’s plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, introduction of social lreform such as gay marriage and cession of more power to local regions.

There are still issues remaining which must be addressed in Spain such as its large scale immigration and rights of the Basque people, but Zapatero intends to move forward in addressing the future of Spain.