If I were to predict the future, I would prefer to view the new year as I wish it to be, with optimism. I feel the new year will be superior to the one before it. Last year, despite its numerous tragedies, was better than its predecessor. Judgment, in this case, is relative. One can evaluate the last year in Iraq in two ways. You could say the Iraqi people are happy because they took part in three greatest elections in the history of their country in a single year. Or, you could say it was a year of fraud, accusations and bloodshed. You could be happy that the majority of Iraqis voted or bitterly say that 3 million did not fulfill their duty in critical elections. All the above is true. Perhaps the situation could have been worse than the events in Palestine, Lebanon, Syrian, the Asian tsunami and bird flu, but we are lucky that it was less terrible. This is why it is reliving to look forward to a better year.
In a preview of the coming year, it is not difficult to underline a hundred bad outcomes. It also easy to point out ten alternative positive endings that will please us in 2006. The struggle for power in Iraq will continue, yet it might remain within an institutional and legal framework, with Iraqis governed by the ballot box and parliament instead of the firearms and car bombs.
Conflict might erupt between Palestinian groups, driving them to choose electoral representation, which will absorb any willingness to fight and bring about a leadership the majority, welcomes and the defeated minority silently accepts. The Palestinians will then embark on their promised political plan towards a liberated land and an independent state. Perhaps Iran might invest its new wealth from oil revenues to build a modern Iran and not just a strong Iran.
It is not unlikely that the new year will extinguish the burning flames between Lebanon and Syria . How many crises lasted for years only to be come to an end in a single night? Damascus is capable to put out the fuse before the solution becomes beyond its reach.
This is the world of politics. The world of individuals, with their hopes and their worries is bigger. For their sake, it is not difficult to imagine, in the new year, the flags of Emaar, the successful construction company, fluttering over the Arab world instead, instead of the flags of conflict and misadventures. It is not too much to wish for individuals in our region a new year where reform will continue, jobs and schools for their children and medical treatment for the sick. Moving forward on the trail of reform is a sign of health and an indication a regime can replenish its capabilities and its benevolence with every New Year.
In 2006, we hold the same telescope and look through it to the coming days. But in which direction and with which inclination? No matter what we wish for, we know that we are unable to stop disasters and conflicts. However, we are capable of reducing its damages and light our path.