Living with Democracy in Egypt

Daniel Consolatore

Hosni Mubarek was almost elected president of Egypt in September 2005. Not that the seventy-seven-year-old secular autocrat who has ruled that nationfor the past twenty-four years lost the election; by the official count, he took nearly 85 percent of the vote.His nearest competitor, Ayman Nour, the upstart headof the fledgling opposition party al-Ghad (“Tomorrow”),managed less than 8 percent. The only other candidate to take any significant tally was the aged NomanGamaa of the venerable al-Wafd (“Delegation”)party, who managed less than 3 percent. The Ikhwanal-Muslimeen (“Muslim Brotherhood”), feared by somany Westerners for its purist Islamic social and politicalagenda, didn’t even field a candidate.Mubarek’s decisive victory would seem to be reassuringto most people—particularly secular Americans—worried for the future of the few Westernfriendly,moderate Arab regimes, threatened as theyare by the Islamicization of politics in the region. The Bush administration would also seem to have reasonto be pleased, given its recent change of heart aboutArab democracy. The missing chemical weapons in Iraq and subsequent justification of the war thereas precedent for democratization have inspired theWhite House to push for as many elections as possible in the region. Zapravo, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at the American University inCairo in June, she announced to some surprise that“for sixty years” the United States had been mistakenin “pursu[ing] stability at the expense of democracy”in the Middle East. For generations, NAS. pundits weresure that the “Arab street” couldn’t be trusted with the vote, as they might hand over power to communistsor fundamentalist Islamists. Realpolitik dictated that autocrats and dictators, like Mubarek and Saddam Hussein, had to be coddled in order to maintain “stability”in the region. If they would then stage election sor dispense with them altogether, deny free speech,and let loose secret police to terrorize the population,the White House would likely turn a blind eye. But ifMubarek could now claim a true democratic mandate,that would be the best of all worlds.

Filed Under: ČlanciEgipatIstaknutoHamasJemaah Islamiyahmuslimansko bratstvo


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