How Will the Arab World View the Iraqi Elections?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Jan. 30, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The successful vote in Iraq will be spun negative by anti-American people. We all know that. Al Jazeera (search), for example, is reporting negatively about what happened today. No surprise. Al Jazeera was banned from Iraq last September for being grossly unfair. Question is, how will the rest of the Arab world see the vote?

With us now, Dr. Walid Phares, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy. Well, this turns the Arab world upside down, does it not?

WALID PHARES, PROF. OF MIDEAST POLITICS, ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY: It is. It's dividing the Arab world, Bill. I was on [Arab satellite television network] "Al Hurra (search)" one hour after the elections with six intellectuals from Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, all over. They were divided. The jihadists were going ballistic. They couldn't have the arguments to answer millions and millions of Arabs and Kurds...

O'REILLY: So they had no answer for what...


PHARES: They had no answer. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the conspiracy, the American conspiracy, and they cannot do this under American occupation. So they stoned (ph) them with the examples of East Timor, with the examples of, you know, Bosnia and elsewhere. They had no answer when we told them millions and millions are going with -- with (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

O'REILLY: Now, what do you think Assad in Syria, who's a big villain in this whole thing -- what do you think he's going to do now?

PHARES: He started his war the minute we moved into Baghdad and removed Saddam Hussein.

O'REILLY: Right.

PHARES: He is 80 percent behind this whole thing. Now he's stuck. His -- his resistance to the democratization of Iraq is going to spill into Syria. Reformists in Syria, as of tonight, are issuing press releases. This may well look like the collapse of the Soviet Union because...

O'REILLY: Is he strong enough, Assad -- his father, obviously, was a brutal dictator, but he doesn't seem to be as, I don't know, fearsome as his father. Is he strong enough, or is he in trouble?

PHARES: I think he's in trouble at this point in time. He knows that once the Ba'ath of Iraq is gone, then the Ba'ath of Syria is in real jeopardy. He and his regime has been involved in massacres in the same way Saddam has massacred Shiite and Kurds. He massacred Sunnis, by the way, 20,000 of them, in 1982. He occupies his neighbor, Lebanon, with 40,000 Syrian troops. He's engaged in supporting Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. He's stuck.


PHARES: He would have to reform.

O'REILLY: Well, it'd be nice to see him go down. I don't know if it's going to happen, and I don't know what kind of pressure the USA's putting on him, but he's a villain.

Now, go to Iran, and we have villains over there, as well. The mullahs are harboring Al Qaeda. What's the impact on Iran?

PHARES: Very interesting equation. Many in the city were saying that, well, Iran will have an influence in Iraq. Well, guess what? There will be an Iraqi Shiite democratic influence inside Iran itself. Students in Iran, women in Iran will be very interested in having the same as happened in Iraq. Now, the mullahswill be very nervous, and they may make a mistake.

O'REILLY: And what would that be? What would the mistake be, cracking down on the dissent within Iran?

PHARES: Well, first of all, they will try to infiltrate the Shia community of Iraq, on the one hand. Number two: oppressing and suppressing the students and women, and at the same time, increasing their build-up of nuclear capabilities.

O'REILLY: Right. Because they're nervous.

PHARES: Absolutely. They're nervous.

O'REILLY: Saudi Arabia, nobody quite knows what they're up to. Do you?

PHARES: Between two strong fires. On the one hand, they don't like democracy across the borders.

O'REILLY: Right.

PHARES: Absolutely not.

PHARES: On the other hand, their own Wahhabis, the most extreme Wahhabis of Al Qaeda, are also threatening them. So their advice to the Sunnis Bill -- that's very interesting. Their advice to the Sunnisof Iraq, --Be in a coalition with the Shiites. Don't let the Shiites take over and don't let Zarqawi (search) take over. So they may play an interesting role.

O'REILLY: And Jordan has been our best friend over there, and they're a big winner in this vote, right?

PHARES: The Jordanians, Egyptians and other Arab moderates will be winners if they engage in reform. Iraq is going to emerge as basically the leading reformist democratic society.

O'REILLY: You believe that?

PHARES: I do believe that.

O'REILLY: This is just the beginning?

PHARES: This is the beginning . Actually, if you look at what the political parties of Iraq, the coalitions that, you know, are part now of the new government, have to say last Sunday in the first televised on C-Span-like television debate, it was reform, it was democracy, it was...


O'REILLY: ... Walid, you know? And that Al Jazeera, you got to get rid of that thing. That is just really poison over there. Thanks for coming in. We appreciate it, sir.

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