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Freedom may be messy, but it beats despotism

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Other Arab rulers, like King Abdullah of Jordan and King Mohammed of Morocco, with an eye to the political storm sweeping across the desert, have talked of ceding some of their monarchial power to the people. It remains to be seen whether this can save them in the longterm.

In Saudi Arabia, the monarchy has sought to stave off discontent by distributing oil-profit largess to its subjects. It has promised to empower women with the vote in local elections. Since the recent death of Crown Prince Sultan, the new heir to the throne is Prince Nayef, the interior minister who has cracked down on Islamic terrorists. He has a close relationship with his country’s influential conservative clergy and has opposed some of the monarchy’s reforms. Should he succeed King Abdullah, he will be confronted by rising public expectations.

Thanks to American sacrifice, Iraq has been freed of its cruel dictator, Saddam Hussein. Today’s fractured government of many voices and parties is hardly ideal. But it is the kind of fumbling democracy with which Westerners must show patience as millions of Muslims find their new, liberated way. The real issue for Iraqis is whether they want their nation to become a satrapy of their looming Iranian neighbor.

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