Tuesday, September 28, 2010

After Mubarak

Mubarak has been president of Egypt for a very long time. He is old. He is ill. He is facing an election next year. He has a son, who, if he follows the typical Arab Nationalist tradition begun by Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser, will surely inherit the throne. But there is also a fairly strong sentiment expressed through political organizations in Egypt, that dynasties are not what is needed in Egypt. But in this piece, the author makes a very good argument for the son, Gamal Mubarak, taking the reigns of power from his father.  It's well worth a read.

I have for some time thought that in places like Egypt, and perhaps Libya, Western educated sons of current dictators may just be the ones that navigate their countries closer to democracy, partly because they have been educated in the Western world and understand the principles of democracy far better than homegrown groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, or the army establishment's top brass do or would.

But then again, I had the same hopes for Syria when Baby Assad took over from his father. Nothing of the sort has come from that ascension to the throne, perhaps because Baby Assad had not been properly groomed for the task, having been the second son, rather than the first born.  But his older brother died suddenly in a car accident, shortly before Hafez Assad's death, and the shy unassuming ophthalmologist was catapulted into the job.

But with Saddam Hussein and his despotic, psychotic sons no longer in the mix, perhaps the time is now ripe. Some little stirrings of democracy have been seen in many parts of the Arab world since the fall of Baghdad. Inch by inch, one son at a time, perhaps we will see democracy emerge.

All of which, makes me wonder what Mahmoud Abbas will come back with from his consultations with the toothless Arab League. What does the Arab League want more? A subdued and contained Iran or a continuation of the old whipping boy Arab countries have been flogging to no avail since 1948 - the Palestinian-Israeli thing. Since the peace talks seem on the verge of failure, as I predicted they would, could there be a Middle Eastern "October Surprise" about to pop out of the box?

Certainly, the time is rip for some outside-the-box thinking and the Palestinian thing has never been more than a diversionary tactic designed to keep their subject peoples preoccupied with something other than their own inadequate governments.  Should they go on fiddling while Rome (Iran) is burning?

And so much depends on what happens with Iran.  If Iran turns upside down, Baby Assad will have to sing a very different tune, or at least seek out a new puppet master.  Perhaps it will be Egypt. Or maybe Russia, as in the good ole days, especially if the Russians have any influence in the new Iran.  If he's smart, he'll choose Egypt.  I'm predicting the Arab world will be united for the first time since Gamal Abdul Nasser inspired the Nationalist movement.  The Israel thing will be relegated to history's dustbin as the old rhetoric subsides and the need for new rhetoric arises. But then again, if Russia fills the Iran void, we're right back to the Cold War with the Arab Nations playing East off against the West.

My, we live in interesting times.  I wonder where India's self-interest will align?

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Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Difficult to see the benefits of Western education for now. So far Western education hasn't done a lot in Saudi Arabia, whose royal family gets educated in Britain...

September 30, 2010 5:06 am  
Blogger Louise said...

Ya, well. You didn't see the words Saudi Arabia in my post, did you? Absent by design.

September 30, 2010 5:21 am  
Blogger Louise said...

I might add that Prince Chucky-Pooh may be fifth or something in line to the Saudi throne, or maybe the other way around.

September 30, 2010 5:23 am  

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