President Bush is “in a buoyant mood, aides said, seeing the recent moves as vindicating his expansive vision [in the Middle East]. ‘He feels validation,’ said one aide.”
TIME: In Washington, many think the growing democracy movement in the Middle East comes from President Bush’s pressure.
ABBAS: I don’t think that we made democracy because President Bush pushed us. We decided that we should have a democratic process, and we did it without any pressure.
The White House “resisted the idea of holding elections [in January] and only succumbed under pressure from Iraq’s most powerful cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.” Iraq expert Juan Cole charges, “It was Sistani who demanded one-person, one-vote elections. So to the extent it’s a victory, it’s a victory for Iraqis. The Americans were maneuvered into having to go along with it.”
Protests in Lebanon
In Lebanon, “opposition leaders say they have consciously imitated the popular uprising in Ukraine,” not Iraq.