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Empty promises of freedom

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With President Bush vowing to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East, Arab governments have begun professing a new commitment to encouraging democracy. Kings, emirs and dictators alike suddenly appear to have discovered the value of human rights and civil society and are trumpeting initiatives to promote them. The problem is that there remains a huge gap between the rhetoric used by these governments and the reality of their response to peaceful dissidents and opposition groups. For every democratizing action, there's an authoritarian reaction.

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