Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Egyptian transformation: reflections

Egypt's Chance -Daniel Pipes

[T]he U.S. administration naively downplayed the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood, calling it but "one faction in Egypt," while his director of national intelligence, James Clapper, actually praised the brotherhood as "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence" and pursues "a betterment of the political order in Egypt."

This nonsense points to a U.S. policy in deep disarray. In June 2009, during a would-be revolution against a hostile regime in Iran, the Obama administration stayed mum, hoping thereby to win Tehran's good will. But with Mr. Mubarak, a friendly dictator under assault, it effectively adopted George W. Bush's impatient "freedom agenda" and supported the opposition. Mr. Obama seemingly encourages street demonstrators only against our side.

Something remarkable, unpredictable and unprecedented took place in recent weeks on Egyptian streets. A leaderless mass movement galvanized large numbers of ordinary citizens, as in Tunisia days earlier. It did not rage against foreigners, scapegoat minority Egyptians, nor endorse a radical ideology; instead, it demanded accountability, liberty, and prosperity. Reports reaching me from Cairo suggest a historic turn toward patriotism, inclusion, secularism, and personal responsibility.

For confirmation, consider two polls: A 2008 study by Lisa Blaydes and Drew Linzer found 60 percent of Egyptians hold Islamist views. But a Pechter Middle East Poll last week found only 15 percent of Cairenes and Alexandrians "approve" of the Muslim Brotherhood and about 1 percent support a brotherhood president of Egypt.
[The Washington Times]

Egypt Should Take Its Time Building a Democracy -David Makovsky

Apart from an election, democracy is about building the institutions that ensure there are safeguards for individuals. It also requires an independent judiciary, a free press, minority rights, and a security apparatus that maintains the monopoly on the use of force.
Democratic transition is hard enough without pressure demanding that it be rapid. The test is not a first election, but rather whether there is a second one.
(USA Today)

Israel Loves Egypt -Abraham Rabinovich

Israelis do not expect the new regime to sever the peace treaty in the near future. But in the absence of Mubarak, relations are expected to grow steadily colder, with war somewhere down the line a scenario that cannot be dismissed.
(Washington Times)

Abbas Worried about Popular Uprising -Khaled Abu Toameh

PA President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to reshuffle the Palestinian cabinet is seen as a sign of his concern that the tsunami that swept the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents from office would sooner or later hit Ramallah. Abbas knows that without the support of a majority of Palestinians, he could end up facing a popular revolt. The downfall of Mubarak's regime is a "catastrophe" for Abbas and an award for Hamas, admitted a senior Fatah official.
(Jerusalem Post)

Iran Sees Biggest Protests in a Year  -Thomas Erdbrink & Liz Sly

In Tehran, large crowds of protesters defied tear gas to march down a major thoroughfare, chanting "Death to the dictator," in the biggest demonstration in the Iranian capital since the government effectively crushed the opposition movement in December 2009.

Many protesters wore green, the symbol of Iran's opposition movement. At least one person was reported killed and several wounded in a shooting incident connected with the protests.
(Washington Post)

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