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Hanging On To The Genuinely Historic Nature Of The Arab Spring

Reader comment on item: Egypt after Morsi: Joy and Worry

Submitted by Alex (United States), Jul 4, 2013 at 14:22

In mid-2011, I wrote, in an unpublished article for a major global polling company, about;

"the specter of Egyptians repeating the recent experience of democracy in Latin America, where more transparent voting has led to the frequent turnover of strongmen elected from obscurity to rectify long-term social and economic difficulties in impossibly short amounts of time."

Now, I agree with Dr. Pipes that the military's effective coup will hinder Egyptians and other Muslims from learning the lessons of their choice to elect Islamists. Egyptains might in a year's time replace whichever general or whichever secularist or "liberal" they will likely elect in the meantime with an even more hardline Islamist Salafi, out of the fantasy that Morsi failed because of not adhering strictly enough to and not fully implementing the Shari'a. The failure of the Salafis to solve Egypt's economic problems and their tyrannical ruling style would then reap the same result that would have come about from Morsi staying in power today, but with material circumstances in a measurably worse state.

I also wanted to point out that I detect a significant change in Dr. Pipes' attitude towards the means by which democracy would come about in Muslim countries. He had previously written that a "strongman" who helps introduce some democratic institutions first at local levels would constitute the right path towards Arab democracy. That he now supports allowing elections at the national level to play out seems to indicate to me that he detects a real substantive change in Arab-Muslim political culture (or at least the seed of such a change) that warrants a new approach.

I wonder if a democratic strongman might still be needed in Egypt, though. Perhaps a liberally-minded general (if one exists), or a genuinely liberal oppositionist/politician who helps maintain security and temper the public's wild expectations, is the only solution.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

That strongman idea was specific to Iraq in 2003, a special circumstance. I don't recall having advocated this elsewhere. Rather, I believe in a decades-long process of democratization that begins, as I like to put it, with electing the village dog-catcher.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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