The Arab Spring – hello or goodbye to democracy?

Israeli democracy fades to black (the black of the blank screen at the end of a film). That was the headline over a recent article by Lawrence Davidson, an American professor of Middle East history. He argued that the suppression of the democratic rights of non-Jews in Israel is coming full circle with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likudniks and settlers now targeting the rights of Jews as well. Events in Cairo provoked this question: Are we witnessing the fading to black of the prospects for freedom and democracy in Egypt, or, is resurgent people power going to make it impossible for the military to maintain its controlling grip? (Presumably there would be limits to how many Egyptian civilians Egyptian soldiers were prepared to kill even if the generals, desperate to protect their wealth and privileges, ordered the suppression by all means of protests and demands for real democracy).

Events still to unfold will determine the answer but in advance of them, and before Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi demonstrated a degree of panic by announcing that the election of a civilian president would be brought forward, the assessment of many informed observers was in tune with that of Marina Ottaway, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She wrote: “In the early days of the Egyptian uprising, when violence threatened to engulf the country, the military did an admirable job of maintaining order without violence and easing Hosni Mubarak out of office. Ten months later, it has emerged as the most serious threat in the transition to democracy. Recent announcements leave no doubt that the military indeed rules Egypt and intends to maintain its control indefinitely.”

The best indicator of whether or not Eygpt’s generals will eventually bow to people power and let democracy have its way will be in their final decision about dropping or not their proposal that new constitutional principles should preserve special powers for the military after the handover to civilian rule. These special powers as originally proposed would give the military a veto over a new constitution and prevent scrutiny of its vast budget. In other words, these “supra-constitutional” principles would enshrine the military’s right to intervene in civilian politics at any time of its choosing.

If Egypt’s generals do seek to control the democratic process by (among other things) fixing elections as Mubarak did, they will back their actions with the assertion that they must do whatever is necessary to prevent radical Islam taking over the country. That would put them on the same page as Zionism’s propaganda maestros. In a recent article for Ha’aretz, Moshe Arens, a former Israeli Minister of Defence and Foreign Minister, wrote the following.

A wave of Islamic rule, with all it entails, is sweeping across the Arab world. It will replace secular dictatorships with Islamic ones. We should have expected nothing else… Observers may fool themselves into believing that the Islamic parties contesting the elections in the Arab countries are ‘mildly’ Islamic, or ‘moderate’ Islamists, but their leaders are neither mild nor moderate.”

The unstated but implicit Zionist message Arens is conveying is that the Arab Spring will create more and more states that will become safe havens for Islamic terrorists, and that Israel and the West, America especially, will have to pursue the “war against terrorism” on many more fronts with even greater vigour and escalating expense.

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