Elections? Real? In Egypt? If so… Great!

Aljazeera.Net – Egypt’s leader orders election reform

In a declaration of profound importance, President Husni Mubarak of Egypt has announced that there will be open, direct and contested presidential elections in the country in September.

Previously, President Mubarak has been election four times in a process having very little to do with real democracy.

But with a possible fifth term coming up, pressures – also in public – for change towards a real election have been increasing visible.

It’s not difficult to see that this has been inspired both by elections in Palestine and Iraq and by the public pressure on Egypt from US President Bush. Twice in the last month or so President Bush has called on Egypt to move towards more of democracy.

It remains to be seen what the details will look like. We are unlikely to see an entirely smooth process towards a fully democratic system.

But the genie is out of the bottle, change is the order of the day, democracy can not be avoided and the region is truly changing. It should not be forgotten that Egypt is not only the most populated but historically probably the most significant of all the Arab countries.

So, we are talking about changes of momenteous importance. And not even the most fervent Bush-bashers can avoid giving at the least some credit for all of this to him.

6 Responses to Elections? Real? In Egypt? If so… Great!

  1. AndersJ skriver:

    The prospect of real elections in Egypt is no doubt an attractive one, at least from a Western point of view.

    But there is a danger. In the end, a slightly authoritarian but overall pro-Western Mubarak may be overwhelmingly better than the possible alternative: a radical Islamist victory.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni international movement from which, among others, Al-Qaeda and Hamas have sprung forth, and whose firebrand, Abdullah Azzam, has been trained by bin Laden personally, has increased the fervence behind its anti-American attacks recently.

    In part thanks to Mubarak’s admittedly less-than-democratic tactics, the Brotherhood has failed to gain significant political influence in Egypt. But a government with any kind of Brotherhood participation would likely remove that pressure entirely. It would give a boost to hardline groups and scuttle opposing, liberal movements.

    This is a clear and present danger. Liberalism and secularism has no strong historical foundation in Egypt, and it needs to be breeded to take root firmly.

    Perhaps there is a good argument for a more cautious US approach here? After all, as Carl writes, Egypt is the most populous and influential state in the Middle East, and particular care should be taken to ensure that true democracy prevails here, too.

  2. simulev skriver:

    Al-Jaazera.net? OMG, please…
    Ask the ten million opressed coptic people, Egypts aboriginians, what they think about this. Then we might get closer to the trutht. I belive it when I see it, actions speaks louder than Muslim Arabs words and promises.

  3. AndersJ skriver:

    Simulev, I don’t see any reason to suspect that Mubarak is not serious about this move.

  4. DeeLiciouS skriver:

    Lets hope it’s for the best.

    I don’t know why people think Copts are ‘opressed’ in Egypt..

  5. Carl Bildt skriver:

    Simulev suffers from a rather severe case of islamophobia, as amply documented before.

    If he dislikes Al-Jaazera, he can read the far more enthusiastic coverage of the same issue in the New York Times.

    AndersJ points at some of the challenges ahead. They should be taken seriously.

    Even if the Muslim Brotherhood has its roots in Egypt, it is worth noting that with few exceptions more fundamentalist and islamist groupings have done rather badly when there has been open elections in the Muslim world.

    There might, as a matter of fact, be a very solid reasom why they are opposed to free elections.

    But of course everything depends on who the candidates will be. As I pointed out originally, we so far only have an announcement – important as that is – from President Mubarak.

    There will be an important story to follow in the months ahead.

  6. simulev skriver:

    ”Simulev suffers from a rather severe case of islamophobia, as amply documented before.”I do? Or maybe it’s Bildt who suffers from denial of reality? Would mr Bild equally proclaim to the Jews of Germany, that they suffered from ”Naziophobia”? Does Salman Rushdie also suffer of ”Islamophobia”?
    Here is a small list of what has happened in Allah’s name globally, note this is only after 9-11.

    So while Bildt seems to ignore these facts, and thereby the innocent victims (latest was Jewish teenagers out for a disco evening), I have pointed out before the author Bat Ye’or findings on this subject. Here in a speech to the French senate, (that Bildt obviously thinks is capable of producing EU security policy’s) it’s rather revealing of the political EU stance, and probably one key issue that separates EU from US.

    An excerpt:
    “[…]The Arabs set the conditions for this association:

    1) A European policy that would be independent from, and opposed to that of the United States.
    2) The recognition by Europe of a “Palestinian people,” and the creation of a “Palestinian” state.
    3) European support for the PLO.
    4) The designation of Arafat as the sole and exclusive representative of that “Palestinian people”.
    5) The de-legitimizing of the State of Israel, both historically and politically, its shrinking into non viable borders, and the Arabization of Jerusalem.

    From this sprang the hidden European war against Israel, through economic boycotts, and in some cases academic boycotts as well, through deliberate vilification, and the spreading of both anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism[…]”

    Further, on Sweden and Egypt, she later in an interview points out:

    FP Tell us about the Prodi project where Tariq Ramadan and others have collaborated. Bat Ye’or: ”Prodi’s project is the fulfillment of Eurabia. It is called the ”Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Area.”

    It was requested by Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, and accepted at the Sixth Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Naples on 2-3 December 2003. It represents a strategy for closer Euro-Arab symbiosis to be implemented by a Foundation that will control, direct and monitor it. Last May the European ministers of foreign affairs accepted the creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures with its seat in Alexandria, Egypt. Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, murdered by an insane man, was a key advocate of the Palestinian cause and the boycott of Israel. Lindh was known for her criticism of Israeli and American policies of self-defense against terror. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was a close friend, calling her a ”true European.”

    The Foundation will endeavor through numerous means to reinforce links of mutuality, solidarity and ”togetherness” between the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean, that is, Europe and the Arab countries. The authors of the project carefully avoid such characterizations since — in the spirit of Edward Said — they are judged anathema and racist. This is explained in the report’s text, but I use them for clarification. It is the Eurabian context, representing a totally anti-American and anti-Zionist culture and policy, that explains the strong reaction against the war in Iraq — itself integrated into the war against Islamic terrorism. A terrorism that Eurabia has denied, blaming Israel’s ”injustice and occupation” and America’s ”arrogance” instead. Eurabia has transformed Islamic terrorism into a cliche: ”America is the problem” in order to consolidate the web of alliances that support its whole geostrategy.”[…]

    To be continued.

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