Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt: What is this regime that has just ended?

By Barry Rubin

One out of about 100 things that amaze me about how this Egypt crisis is being discussed and reported is this: What is the regime people are trying to overthrow?

We constantly hear about the "Mubarak regime" and "thirty years" of dictatorship. But that's not who and what this government is really about.

It is the Nasser-Sadat-Mubarak regime, almost sixty years old. It was established by a military coup in 1952. And here's what is so central about it: This is the act and the government that began the long reign of radical Arab nationalism over the Arab world. Either countries were taken over by this ideology (Egypt, Syria, Iraq) or had to give it lip service and appeasement.

So is this not just the end of Mubarak but the end of the Arab nationalist movement? Yes, it does seem that way.

What ideology is going to replace it? Islamism or democracy? That's the issue. This is an end to an era of Middle Eastern and Arab history, not just the downfall of one man or one regime.

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