The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

"If stability had been sacrificed from democracy"

UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave continues his attacks on Ayman Nour and reflects that democracy might not be so good after all:

If stability had been sacrificed for democracy, the former national security adviser and secretary of state to Presidents Nixon and Ford could not have negotiated major Arab-Israeli disengagement agreements: Sinai I, Golan and Sinai II. Without the undemocratic, benign dictatorial figure of Anwar Sadat at the helm in Egypt, or without the late Syrian dictator and master terror-broker Hafez Assad, yet another page of war history would have been written.

With a democratic parliament in Egypt in 1974, presumably dominated by the popular Muslim Brotherhood, Sadat could not have made his spectacular, death-defying trip to Jerusalem -- and suddenly become the most popular leader in Israel. A peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and between Jordan and Israel were possible only because absolute rulers -- Sadat and the late King Hussein -- led both Arab countries.

Sadat knew his courageous act of statesmanship was tantamount to signing his own death warrant. It was carried out in 1981 -- by Islamist extremists -- on worldwide television.


In Egypt, Miss Rice, presumably attempting to confer respectability on President Hosni Mubarak's challengers, took time to receive a known political charlatan who over the years has been exposed for forging election results as he climbed the ladder of a number of political parties under a variety of labels.

Even Mr. Mubarak's enemies concede Ayman Nour fabricated and forged the signatures of more than 1,000 citizens to conform to regulations to legalize his Ghad (Tomorrow) party. His career is dotted with phony academic credentials, plagiarism, a staged assassination attempt on himself, charges of embezzlement by his Saudi media employer, and scads of document forgeries.

Miss Rice had canceled a previous trip to Egypt to protest the indictment and jailing of Mr. Nour pending trial. And before Miss Rice's most recent accolade, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also went out of her way to praise Egypt's master political con man. Makes you wonder what kind of political reporting is coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

His conclusion is that it's unrealistic to expect democracy anytime soon in the Arab world. I find his argument about Sadat particularly offensive: so what if the peace treaty hadn't happened? Is democracy OK only if it doesn't prevent an Arab leader making peace with Israel? Many politically engaged Egyptians I speak to, while grateful that they didn't have to fight a war against Israel or suffer the economic consequences of war, feel that Camp David was wrong and did not get Egyptians that much in exchange for peace aside from Sinai. In fact, many make the argument that the price they paid was a quarter-century of US-approved dictatorship. The Washington Times (which is owned by the same owner as UPI, the Moonie cult) has had a strange habit recently of being pro-Mubarak after a long anti-Egyptian stance. They even interviewed Mubarak last time he was in Washington, while the Washington Post went on a campaign against him. One wonders what changed.