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Why Egypt Matters

February 11, 2011

Think on this. There is no Arab democracy. Arab rulers end up dying after decades in power and leaving the palace to their surly, corrupt sons as in Syria or Saudi Arabia. Or after decades in office they are forced out in a revolution and scramble onto a military
cargo plane with their distressed families and seek reunion with their bulging Swiss bank accounts. Think Tunisia.

Nowhere is there rule by the ballot.

Egypt may prove that rule by the ballot can work in an Arab land.

But the other test will be whether it can be secular rule. Is this going to be like 1979 in Iran when secular despotism was overthrown only to be replaced by Islamist despotism ? Nowhere in the Islamic world, outside Malaysia and Turkey, more recently Indonesia, does one find anything approaching separation of state and religion.

Is open democracy the way to counter Islamists ? As revealed by Wikileaks that was the hope of a US Ambassador expressed in a cable back in 2005. We will find out.

  1. byron permalink
    February 11, 2011 8:17 am

    funny the concern about secular rule overseas when the religious right highjack and reroute bills (surrogacy) here in nsw without anyone batting an eyelid … what’s next … stem cells?

    • Bob Carr permalink
      February 11, 2011 8:49 am

      You think that is analogous with rule by a council of imams ? With Sharia law specifying stoning to death for adultery ?

      • byron permalink
        February 11, 2011 11:07 am

        direction – yes
        magnitude – most certainly not

      • Peter Pando permalink
        February 11, 2011 2:24 pm

        By secularism do you mean a general scepticism about religion, absolute secularism, i.e. committed agnosticism, atheism or materialism, or the ‘civil arm’? Or perhaps a combination of some or all these? There’s an old saying “You have to stand for something, fall for anything.” How can anyone believe in plans based around a term which isn’t even defined by its users?

  2. February 11, 2011 9:34 am

    Arab rulers die and leave power to their surly and corrupt sons. This sounds strangely like succession arrangements in the Labor party to me.

  3. Andrew R permalink
    February 11, 2011 12:09 pm

    Hi Bob. I’m pretty sure Lebanon is an Arab democracy.

  4. Christopher Brown permalink
    February 12, 2011 3:55 am

    Bob, I’m in Jordan now where the son (King Abdullah) seems like a decent fella and the punters truly love him. Maybe I will have to rethink my republicanism? This place is the most aggressively peaceful nation on earth, imhabbitted by saints yet surrounded on ALL sides but crazy people and fanatics.
    M’a Asalam

  5. John permalink
    February 13, 2011 8:35 pm

    Bob, Australia helped “liberate” Kuwait 20 years ago. And for what? It’s still a dictatorial monarchy. That, surely, reflects badly on Australia and the (Labor) politicians who made and supported the decision to joint the coalition, no?

    Also – Iraq under Saddam was a secular state. Their 2nd in charge was a Christian for goodness sake. Egypt under Mubarrak was a secular state.

    Lebanon is considered by the Economist Intelligence Unit to be more democratic than Turkey! You appear to be misunderstanding some key points about the Middle East.

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