Addressing a session on "elections and their consequences" at the US-Islamic World Forum at Doha, J Scott Carpenter, the American deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, reiterated US resolve to help pro-reform forces in the region.

"At the task force meetings of this forum, many raised the question whether America is prepared to accept the consequences of democracy in the region.

"The answer is yes," he said, indicating the possibility of Islamist forces coming to power in Arab countries through democratic elections.

US policy

"We didn't interfere in the election results in Iraq. The person who has now been elected president is an Islamist," Scott said in reply to a query from the audience about the US stance towards groups such as Hamas and Hizb Allah.

"At the task force meetings of this forum, many raised the question whether America is prepared to accept the consequences of democracy in the region. The answer is yes"

J Scott Carpenter, US deputy assistant secretary of state

He, however, added that it was the people who would decide whether they should be ruled by groups talking with weapons or those who are actually supporting democracy.

He said the US policy was not to interfere in every detail of the democratic process, but only help the pro-reform forces in the region. Referring to the Arab Human Development Report, he spoke about three possible scenarios - the worst being maintaining the status quo and the best being people reforming themselves.

"We will be very happy if Mubarak of Egypt one day wakes up from his sleep and decides to hold democratic elections in his country," he said, indicating that such a scenario was not likely to happen.

The third scenario was partnership of external actors in the peoples' initiative for reforms.

"The US can be a credible partner with the government and the civil society," he added.

Forum deliberations

The three-day forum that concluded on Tuesday explored the prospects of creating a better and healthier environment for future relations between the United States and the Islamic world.

The forum discussed issues such as the peace process in the Middle East in addition to security, stability and development, reforms and technology and the role of the media in raising awareness.