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Visiting professor enthralled with U.S. political scene

by Paul Darst

STAFF WRITER

FAIRMONT -- American elections have always intrigued Joward Anani.

A member of Jordan's senate, Anani has been in the United States for the past four presidential elections.

"I love to come to this country," he said. "This is a very interesting time."

Anani is a visiting professor at West Virginia University in Morgantown for the fall semester. He spoke at Fairmont State College Wednesday about the economic and political implications of this year's election and on U.S.-Middle East relations.

"I was hoping the election would be over by the time I got here (for the lecture)," Anani said.

Although the legal battles over the Nov. 7 election continue, Anani believes Gov. George W. Bush will prevail, he said. And that seems to be the sentiment in Jordan too.

"Most prefer to see Gov. Bush win," Anani said.

"Mr. Gore hasn't been forthcoming on the peace process."

Anani, who regularly reads newspapers from his home country, said most Jordanians believe Bush would be more assertive in getting the peace process back on track.

But Anani does not believe either presidential candidate would hurt the process much, he said.

"I just hope that whoever wins takes an assertive position," he said.

"I don't want to see more bloodshed in the Holy Land."

Anani is a member of the Jordanian Senate and former Chief of the Royal Court, which is equivalent to White House Chief of Staff in this country.

He also has served in other high-level positions such as Head of Economic Research for the Central Bank of Jordan, Minister of Labor, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Deputy Prime Minister for Developmental Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs and as a consultant for several international and regional organizations.

Anani said that most Jordanians view America as a country with a long and successful tradition of democracy. This year's election debacle has done little to change that view, he said.

"I think this shows us how the election process can be complex at times," he said.

During his remarks to the crowd of students and some area residents, Anani also spoke of the overall problems facing the Middle East. He took the occasion to voice his concern over Israeli settlements in the West Bank, calling them a "violation of international law."

He further discussed the problems surrounding Jerusalem, which is claimed as a holy city by Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Those are only some of the problems that have stalled the peace process, he said. But it is often hard for Americans to understand how seemingly small details can stand in the way of peace, Anani said.

That is why this year's election might be good medicine for this country, he said.

"In a way, I'm glad this happened in the election," he said. "Many Americans seem to think it's easy to make peace. They don't see how a lot of small details can stand in the way.

"But small issues are important because they are the ones that make a difference."

Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at pdarst@exponent-telegram.com.

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