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April 23, 2003

The View from There

Reading the Arab press, even in the moderated, English version, is truly enlightening. Here, for example, is a review posted in the recent English, online issue of the Egyptian Al Aharam (17-23 April 2003). The piece is entitled, "Worse than 1967 and deals (of course) with the Coalition's stunning success in Iraq [bold font added]:

In the aftermath of the unexpectedly speedy fall of Baghdad on 9 April and the subsequent military occupation of Iraq, silence reigned in Cairo, the Arab world's largest capital. While Arab and Western TV stations aired images of jubilant Iraqis dragging statues of their outgoing dictator through the streets of Baghdad as Washington cried "liberation", many here were shaking their heads in disapproval. Not only is the US-British military occupation of Iraq a stab in the heart of national Arab unity, observers argue, but the "catastrophe" of Iraq's bleak and uncertain future is bound to affect the Arab world, including Egypt, quite negatively.

This point of view is not limited to pessimists, but in fact seems to reflect the concerns of a vast majority of independent Egyptian intellectuals, politicians and analysts.
Youssry who is one of the 29 signatories of the statement protesting Mubarak's position on the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, refutes the wide-spread conviction in the West -- and especially the US and Britain -- that Iraq was "liberated" from "dictatorship"...
The terminology, one should notice, is not too different from that used against Israel in connection with Yesha; and the overall idea propagated to undermine Israel, viz., the West as occupier/colonizer of "Arab lands", is even stated explicitly in relation to Iraq. Inasmuch as the article deals with the notion of Iraq's "liberation" at all, it is to refute the notion.

To underscore the blurred thinking of the article's author and the people she quotes, one finds the following unexpected admission towards the end of the article:

In fact, in the run-up to the war, the Egyptian government implemented several measures that seem to correspond with American demands for "good governance" in Egypt. Two months ago, the ruling National Democratic Party announced its plans to establish a governmental Institute for Human Rights, as well as cancel State Security courts and abolish hard labour prison sentences. In January the president announced the appointment of the first woman judge and declared Coptic Christmas -- 7 January -- a national holiday.
These are exactly the democratization repercussions that the US was hoping to generate, and they clearly benefit Egyptian society as well as the cause of human rights. Yet the article is wall-to-wall denunciation of the Anglo-American conduct. As LGF keeps asking, "what's wrong with these people"?