...the developments in Egypt should be welcomed. A downtrodden region is getting a taste of freedom. In the space of a few miraculous weeks, one Middle Eastern autocrat has fallen, and another, who has kept the Arabs’ mightiest country under his thumb for 30 years, is tottering. The 350m-strong Arab world is abuzz with expectation; its ageing autocrats are suddenly looking shaky. These inspiring events recall the universal truth that no people can be held in bondage for ever.
For some in the West, which has tended to put stability above democracy in its dealings with the Middle East, these developments are disturbing. Now that the protests have sucked the life out of Mr Mubarak’s regime, they argue, the vacuum will be filled not by democrats but by chaos and strife or by the Muslim Brothers, the anti-Western, anti-Israeli opposition. They conclude that America should redouble its efforts to secure a lengthy “managed transition” by shoring up either Mr Mubarak or someone like him.
The Rosetta revolution
That would be wrong. The popular rejection of Mr Mubarak offers the Middle East’s best chance for reform in decades. If the West cannot back Egypt’s people in their quest to determine their own destiny, then its arguments for democracy and human rights elsewhere in the world stand for nothing. Change brings risks—how could it not after so long?—but fewer than the grim stagnation that is the alternative.
Revolutions do not have to be like those in France in 1789, Russia in 1917 or Iran in 1979. The protests sweeping the Middle East have more in common with the popular colour revolutions that changed the world map in the late 20th century: peaceful (until the government’s thugs turned up), popular (no Robespierre or Trotsky running things behind the scenes), and secular (Islam has hardly reared its head). Driven by the power of its citizens, Egypt’s upheaval could lead to a transformation as benign as those in eastern Europe.
Pessimists point out that Egypt has neither the institutions nor the political leadership to ensure a smooth transition. But if it did, the people would not have taken to the streets. No perfectly formed democracy is about to emerge from the detritus of Mr Mubarak’s regime. Disorder seems likely to reign for some time. But Egypt, though poor, has a sophisticated elite, a well-educated middle class and strong sense of national pride. These are good grounds for believing that Egyptians can pull order out of this chaos.
Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood is anyway overdone. It is true that the Brothers produced Ayman al-Zawahiri, now Osama bin Laden’s number two and chief ideologue; the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the Brothers’ leading thinker in the 1950s and 1960s, are certainly intolerant and hostile to the West. Any new Egyptian government, especially if it included the Brothers, would probably be harder on Israel and easier on Hamas, the Islamist offshoot that runs the Gaza Strip between Egypt and Israel, the very existence of which it in theory rejects.
Adéu a Nihil Obstat | Hola a The Catalan AnalystDesprés de 13 anys d'escriure en aquest bloc pràcticament sense interrumpció, avui el dono per clausurat. Això no vol dir que m'hagi jubilat de la xarxa, sinó que he passat el relleu a un altra bloc que segueix la mateixa línia del Nihil Obstat. Es tracta del bloc The Catalan Analyst i del compte de Twitter del mateix nom: @CatalanAnalyst Us recomano que els seguiu.
Moltes gràcies a tots per haver-me seguit amb tanta fidelitat durant tots aquests anys.
divendres, 4 de febrer de 2011
Publicado por NO a les 12:47 p. m.