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Location: Ames, Iowa, United States

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Democracy Beat Goes On In The Middle East

It looks like the snowball is getting larger. The proliferation of democracy in the Middle East has another entry in Egypt. Granted, this should have happened 20 years ago. But with all of the recent events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Palestine, and the little nudge given to Egypt's president (dictator) Hosni Mubarak when the previously scheduled visit to the Middle East by Condoleeza Rice was cancelled, the pressure for democratic reform has become too great to be ignored. As noted in the LA Times article, there have been demonstrations in the streets recently:

"After years in which his seemingly permanent hold on the presidency was seldom questioned out loud, Mubarak has been pelted with growing criticism. His tight grip on power has provoked demonstrations in the streets of Cairo and has drawn mounting calls for constitutional reform. Rumors that Mubarak's son, Gamal, was being groomed to succeed his father as president have intensified the anti-government grumblings of disgruntled Egyptians."

In addition, the withholding of an aid package dedicated to help Egypt's banking community probably had something to do with it:

"The United States has prepared a $1-billion economic aid package aimed at revamping Egypt's deeply troubled banking sector. The package was ready Jan. 23, but it has not yet been signed. The administration has given no explanation for the delay."

It looks like President Bush has taken to heart the criticisms of the opposition during the heated presidential election race. The Dems have often pointed out the fact that our government has supported non-democratic rulers throughout the world. This shift in our policy bodes well for the future of democracy in the Middle East, and for the Republican Party, as Bush's coattails will be broad I'm sure in the next election.
Granted, there are still a lot of hurdles to a real election in Egypt. But there is still time for real reform, and a real opportunity for opposition leaders there to have a say in their government.
Mubarak has opened the door a little, so let's see if it blows wide open.

I'll be back



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