OPEN LETTER TO ALL SOLDIERS IN THE US LED COALITION AGAINST TERRORISM
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the strength of character, wisdom, and guts to volunteer and make the sacrifices you have and are making to defend our freedoms. I'd also like to offer the same depth of thanks to your wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters, who patiently wait for you, proud one and all of you for the work you are doing. ALL of you are heros, and the world owes each and every one of you their full gratitude and respect.
Never mind the mental midgets and morons who line up to detract from what you are doing. Idiots like them have always been with us. I just want you to know that they are in the minority, and that most of us can see the importance of what you are doing.
And we can see that you are WINNING.
Everything they've whined about has been proven wrong. They said you couldn't do it, but you did. They said the people wouldn't want it, but they do. Everything they have predicted has proven to be wrong.
The desire for democracy is growing strong, and the people are taking to the streets demanding it, all across the Middle East. The government of Lebanon has fallen to the people. Egypt is planning free elections. Saudi Arabia is beginning to see the handwriting on the wall, and in other countries in the region, the people are watching. They watched the Iraqi people who were told that if they voted they would be killed, turn out by the millions and vote anyway. They want that for themselves - and some have already begun to take a stand, emboldened by what they have seen happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. Things that happened because YOU had the strength of character and wisdom to put your life on the line to make it happen.
YOU made that possible. YOU risked your lives daily, some among you gave your lives to do it, in spite of the ignorant bleating of the antiwar crowd, those hand wringing, whining, enablers of the enemy, too shortsighted because of either their political leanings or simply because they don't have the intelligence to see beyond their noses. In spite of them, you did it. You are winning.
Many of us, me included, were unable to go fight beside you. But we went with you in spirit. We might be too old to fight beside you, but we STAND beside you, and I just wanted to let you know that we will take care of these whining idiots back home. You keep doing what you're doing, and leave these morons to us. Arabs See Beginning of New Era
By DONNA ABU-NASR
Associated Press Writer
March 1, 2005, 3:16 PM EST
KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia -- It was a scene the Arab world's autocratic regimes have dreaded -- and through the power of satellite TV, it could catch on as fast as the latest hit music video: Peaceful, enormous crowds carrying flags and flowers bringing down a government.
What happened in Lebanon this week, analysts say, is the beginning of a new era in the Middle East, one in which popular demand pushes the momentum for democracy and people's will can no longer be disregarded.
Television stations broadcast Beirut's protests live into homes, coffee shops and clubs across the Middle East, with the dramatic images of Lebanese youths wearing red-and-white scarves and waving the country's red, white and green flag as they handed out roses Monday to troops who had been ordered to block them. The coverage, lasting all day with hardly a break on some stations, culminated with the Syrian-backed government's resignation.
Inevitably, it raised the question among many spectators: What about here?
"I wish this could happen in Yemen," Ahmed Murtada, an unemployed Yemeni, said in San'a. "But here, tanks would prevail."
Anas Khashoggi, a 46-year-old management consultant in the Saudi city of Jiddah, said he followed Monday's events from beginning to end. "I wanted ... to see how the government reacts to the will of the people," he said.
Was he disappointed? "Not at all," he said.
The scenes from Lebanon come as Saudis are having their first -- albeit small -- taste of democracy. In the second round of the country's first nationwide elections ever, Saudi men go to the polls Thursday in the kingdom's east and south to choose municipal councils. The monarchy has been promising reform, but going slowly.
Newspapers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- authoritarian nations where the state heavily influences the press -- did not shy away from showing the protests.
"The Lebanese street joins the opposition," read the banner headline across the front page of the Saudi daily Okaz, along with photos of the Lebanese protest tents and a banner in Arabic reading, "We want the truth."
In Syria, however, the state-controlled media was largely silent. It reported on the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karami but did not mention -- much less show pictures -- of the protests. State TV aired none of the dramatic footage the few Syrians with satellite dishes could see with a flick of the channel.
Syria has kept a firm hand on its small reform movement. But it had a rare instance of civil violence last year, when riots in March between Kurds and police spread to parts of northeastern Syria and killed at least 25 people in unrest sparked by a soccer brawl but fueled by Kurdish resentment.
"What happened in Lebanon conforms with our hopes for every Arab country," said Michel Kilo, a Syrian intellectual. "It was a rehearsal for a peaceful popular movement that unfolded right before our eyes."
The protests in Lebanon -- triggered by the assassination of the popular former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14 -- come on the heels of a string of democratic steps in the Arab world, including elections in Iraq and by the Palestinians, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's promise to allow multi-candidate presidential elections.
But the forcing out of Lebanon's government sets a very different precedent in a region where freedom of speech is muzzled, human rights activists are jailed and sons either succeed or are being groomed to succeed their fathers.
"For the first time in the history of the Arab world, a country's policy has come face-to-face with the will of the people who went down to the street and said: 'We don't want you,'" said Dalal al-Bizri, a Cairo-based Lebanese sociologist.
"The minimum feeling among Arab masses now will be: 'Are the Lebanese better than us?'" she said.
Many may be wary of where the people spirit takes Lebanon. If the protests drag the country into civil war or prompt a fierce Syrian response, as some critics have warned, bloodshed could scare off others.
Also, Lebanon's uniqueness in the region could lessen the events' impact. Its 3.5-million people belong to 17 sects, with large Christian and Shiite communities. Its press is the freest in the Middle East. Its issues are with external domination from Syria, not a domestic government, and the protests resulted from the explosive trigger of Hariri's murder.
Still, with television making people power visible to all, "it's a phenomenon that will catch on the way music video clips have caught on," said al-Bizri.
It may not spread quickly, however. Sherine Bilal, a 19-year-old Egyptian student, was wary of the limits imposed in her country, where protests are usually restricted to university campuses.
"Here, if we try to demonstrate, we can only do it inside these walls," Bilal said from at the American University in Cairo. "Even then, it's only about certain things."
But Dawood al-Shirian, a Saudi talk show host on Dubai TV, had a warning for Arab governments, pointing to Ukraine's Orange Revolution: "Either they embrace the orange, or they will find themselves slipping on the peels of bananas."
Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press