Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Egypt in Crisis

Egypt in crisis - where does democracy and free trade reside amidst the turbulence and turmoil in the Middle East?  Is Egypt the bellwether for the other Arab peoples who have risen to protest totalitarian rulers and a lack of individual freedoms?

Perhaps it is important to recall the words of Anwar el-Sadat, who, in 1972, said,

  • Through a history of alternating victory and defeat, attainment and frustration, achievement and disappointment, Egypt formed an attitude and determination. This we must understand in order to comprehend Egypt today.
  • When we assumed responsibility after the Egyptian Revolution in 1952 three principles were fixed as our main targets. They appear as Egypt's motto: Freedom, Socialism and Unity.
For Sadat, the three principles of freedom, socialism, and unity meant ridding the country of foreign influence, pursuing economic growth for its people while promoting public services, and fostering solidarity with other Arab nations.  Sadat went on to say in an article published in Foreign Affairs in 1972,

  • The longing of Egypt to stay independent and free, to assure the development of all her resources for all her people under a regime of social justice, and to build her ties and cooperate with her Arab sisters, have thus been the guiding lines of her policy for reconstruction ever since the Revolution in 1952...
Egypt is again on that pathway to freedom, social justice, and unity among its people.  And may it remain the bellwether as other Arab nations cry out.

A summary of key articles on Egypt's past four decades is now available in a collection of Foreign Affairs articles on Egypt, including essays by Anwar el-Sadat, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Fouad Ajami.

In one of  the country's best works of fiction, War in the Land of Egypt, Yusuf al-Qaid, a of current generation novelistexpresses his sense of opportunity and failure:
  • Every generation has a particular fate, and our fate, we the sons of Egypt, is that our ambitions were greater than our possibilities. We stepped forward but we found no ground underneath us; we lifted our heads to touch the clouds and the sky disappeared from above us.  And at the very moment we divined the truth of our time our leader [Nasser] deserted us with his death right when we needed him.  Let us look carefully at our land and our country.  It is a strange place, at once dangerous and safe, hard and accommodating, harmonious and full of envy, satiated and hungry.

1 comment:

  1. To those who are concerned today of Egypt falling prey to the theocratic right, I would remind them of the words of Fouad Ajami,

    The country is too wise, too knowing,
    and too tolerant to succumb to a reign
    of theocratic zeal.