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August 17, 2007

Political Situation in Egypt Worsens
Posted by Shadi Hamid

The political situation in Egypt continues its downward spiral. Numerous leaders of Egypt's largest opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood (88 seats in parliament) were arrested today. The list includes Essam el-Erian, widely recognized as one of the most moderate Brotherhood figures in Egypt today. (See his interview with Helena Cobban for some background).

Whatever you think about the MB, this represents yet another clear step toward full-on autocracy in a country that, not too long ago, was supposedly democratizing. Of course, that was before the Bush administration betrayed its own "freedom agenda" and gave up on Arab democracy. (See my article in the current issue of Democracy for an overview of the Bush administration's reversal). Will the Bushies have anything to say in response to this wave of arrests? I wouldn't hold my breath. Hosni Mubarak, longtime strongman of Egypt, is a ruthless dictator, but he's our dictator.

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the Bush administration betrayed its own "freedom agenda" and gave up on Arab democracy.

To say the Bush administration "gave up on Arab democracy" iplies that, at some point, they were for Arab democracy. They weren't. Using "democracy" as a rhetorical prop for war (as in Iraq) or "supporting democracy" only as long as it produces the results you want (as in Palestine) doesn't really qualify as being for democracy.

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