A Middle East tour by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has confirmed to democracy activists in the Middle East what they had long suspected–the United States has lost interest in democracy for Arabs. By promising to protect friendly rulers in the region against what many analysts see as exaggerated external threats, Rice sent a message that Washington will not ask many questions about how they suppress more real internal threats, they said.
I wrote about the administration’s failed “democracy” initiative in the Middle East last March. I focused on Egypt, where the U.S. supports the Mubarak regime–which has ruled for decades without ever holding fair elections and routinely employs violence against its opponents–and ostracizes the Muslim Brotherhood–which renounced violence decades ago, espouses democracy, and calls for anti-corruption initiatives and political reform. In fact, the Bush administration started backing off of its pro-democracy rhetoric after the Brotherhood scored big gains in parliamentary elections, despite massive cheating by the Egyptian government.
Since I was in Egypt last fall, the Mubarak regime has launched a massive crackdown on the Brotherhood. Meanwhile, parliament (where the ruling party has a rubber stamp majority) passed a series of amendment that “further solidified the legal underpinnings of authoritarianism in Egypt,” according to a recent article in Middle East Report Online by Samer Shehata and Joshua Stacher.
There’s little coverage of Egypt (far more pivotal to Middle Eastern politics than Iraq over the long run) in the American media. For those wanting to know what’s happening there, check out the story by Shehata and Stacher.