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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Egyptian democracy activist on the Israeli-'Palestinian' conflict

In Tuesday's Boston Globe, columnist Jeff Jacoby interviews Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim (pictured) about democracy in the Arab world. Some of the interview deals with how the Arab regimes use the Israeli-'Palestinian' conflict to keep themselves in power. Ibrahim confirms everything we've believed about how the conflict is used.
Q: Do you agree with those who say that what Arab leaders want isn't a Palestinian state, but a Palestinian struggle?

A: Yes, there are vested interests in keeping the Palestinian conflict going. So if Obama's speech will really be a breakthrough for peace, it will also be a stepping-stone to genuine democratization. Peace will take away the excuse that the authoritarian regimes use to justify their own hold on power.

Q: Do you see any Middle East leaders today as visionary peacemakers?

A: Not yet. You don't have a Sadat; you don't have a Rabin; you don't have a Begin.

Q: If Anwar Sadat could return and see what has happened in the Middle East in the last 30 years, what would he think?

A: You know, Sadat is the one who alerted me.

Q: Alerted you to what?

A: That the Arab regimes are living off the continuance of the conflict. He summoned me one day to the presidential palace.

Q: When was this?

A: In 1981; five weeks before he was assassinated.

Q: What was your connection to Sadat?

A: None. I was just a professor at the American University in Cairo. And on a Thursday, I get a telephone call from one of his aides, who said, "The president wants to see you on Saturday." I said, "What for?" He said, "I don't know."

Q: What happened?

A: I traveled to his compound and Sadat said to me: "I know you hate us." I was dumbfounded. I said, "Mr. President, why would I hate you? I just disagree with some of your policies." This was after the Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor, and I had written that Sadat met with Begin three days before that attack. There were a lot of questions.

Q: About whether Sadat knew the attack was coming?

A: Exactly. If he did, it would be considered collusion with Israel against an Arab country. Remember, the whole Arab world had severed relations with Egypt [over Sadat's peace treaty with Israel]. Then Sadat said, "Do you think any of these guys really want to end the Arab-Israeli conflict?"

Q: Which guys?

A: The other Arab rulers. He said, "These guys do not want to solve anything. They want the conflict, because that's what justifies their continuation of power." He used an Arabic expression: "I will cut off my arm if 10 years from now any of them has made peace."
Read the whole thing.


At 8:09 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Anwar Sadat was that rare Arab leader who cared about his own people and wanted a better future for them. The others care for their own power and the future of their people is the last thing on their list. If the Arab World had more people like Sadat, it would be very different today. The Arab tragedy is a self-inflicted one.


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