Hand Iraq to Sheikh Hamad of Qatar
Of course the Iraqis have not enjoyed having an American Military Governor, but are they ready now for a U.S. pullout? Here's an alternative.
The most remarkable man I have read about in the Arab world is Sheikh Hamad, the Emir of Qatar. How about giving him temporary power with a later handoff date to an Iraqi parliament. There's not a lot of coverage about him on the Web, but consider the following.
His family has been an absolute monarchy for a century. In 1995, however, he deposed his father in a family-supported takeover to become the new young Emir.
In just a few years since then he has:
- Spread democracy in much of his country, with an elected legislature and elected local officials.
- Given the vote to women, and enabled many freedoms for them, including freedom of dress. Education for girls is mandatory, women make up the majority of students in the national university. However, his people are Wahabi style conservatives, and there is still much repression of women, by our standards.
- Disbanded his government's information ministry, and funded, with a hands-off no-censorship approach, Al-Jazeera and other free press.
- Invested heavily in education for the Qatari, giving grants to U.S. universities like Cornell to get them to build branch campuses in Qatar.
Now he's still a monarch, and has kept a lot of power, and it's not all sweetness and light by any stretch, but the above record is one I find remarkable. Absolute rulers voluntarily giving their people the vote is rare in history. And of course it's easier when you have billions of oil revenue and you get to take your cut.
Of course Qatar is a strong U.S. ally now (though he refused Powell's requests that he muzzle Al-Jazeera during the war) and has some resentment in the Arab world for that role. But if I can imagine any Arab leader who might be trusted to take the temporary reigns of a country, and be trusted to try to reform it in the best interests of the people and then be trusted to leave, his record makes him top my list. He is Sunni, which may be an issue for the Iraqi majority.
Of course, my knowledge of him is sketchy. You don't find a lot on the web. I would like to know more. But if he has the potential to solve the problem (though he might well not want the job) he should be looked at.