David Ignatius has a very interesting column in today's Washington Post, entitled "No 'Turning Back' in Egypt." Ignatius has covered the Middle East since the early 1980s and is by no means an uncritical supporter of the Bush administration's policies. But he concludes, on the basis of his reporting in Cairo, that Egypt may very well be headed toward something like democracy. The elections held earlier this month, the first in which President Hosni Mubarak has allowed oppositionand the reform agenda Mubarak unveiled in responseseem, in Ignatius's view, to have given momentum to democratic change. Here's a couple of excerpts:
The fact that even the pharaonic Mubarak is running as a democrat illustrates the power of the reform movement in the Arab world today. The movement is potent because it's coming from the Arab societies themselves and not just from democracy enthusiasts in Washington.
The Mubarak regime is certainly capable of reneging on its promises. But there's so much pressure for change, from so many different directions (including the Bush administration), that it won't be easy. "I don't think there is any turning back," the president's son, Gamal Mubarak, tells me. And for the moment, I'm inclined to take him at his word.
So-called realists have scoffed at George W. Bush's promise to bring democracy to the Middle East. Here's some evidence that Bush was right and the realists were wrong.