Thomas Friedman, NYT: Remapping the Middle East, Maybe.
Joshua Muravchik, American Enterprise Institute: The Birth Pangs of Arab Democracy. For the Arab world, 2005 may be remembered as the year of the election. Today, Palestinians will choose a new president. Three weeks later, Iraqis will elect a national assembly. This will be only the beginning. Palestinians will go to the polls no fewer than three more times before the year is out, to elect municipal councils, a new legislative body and new leadership within Fatah, the dominant political party. The Iraqi assembly, in addition to forming a government, will write a constitution that will be put to a national referendum in the fall, followed by new elections.
Peter Baker, Washington Post: He fretted about turnout the other day because, as he put it, that is what politicians do. Never mind that his name will not be on the ballot. For President Bush, back-to-back elections in the Middle East starting today represent a milestone that, for better or worse, will help shape the legacy of his presidency.
Miami Herald: As the Jan. 30 deadline for Iraqi elections approaches, U.S. officials ponder a poignant question. What good are elections if fear of violence prevents candidates from campaigning and large segments of the population from voting? There is no good answer to this question except this: Violence mustn't be allowed to stop the legitimate, historic exercise of the ballot by millions of Iraqis who are, in fact, ready to vote.