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Egypt: As Seen From Nervous Beijing

In its issue of February 14,2011, the “Global Times” of Beijing, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, has come out with a commentary on the  success of the Revolution in Egypt. It is worth reading in full and is hence reproduced below: Egypt has won a battle, but not the war

* Source: Global Times *February 14 2011

Street protest put the Mubarak’s rule to an end. The regime change may bring progress for Egyptian society, though there is also worry over the prospects for the country and the entire Arab world.

The first test Egyptian society will face is whether Mubarak’s domestic and foreign policies based on rationalism become national policies in a democratic way. Egypt’s middle class is weak, bureaucracy and corruption are prevalent and the income gap between rich and poor is huge.

These problems cannot be solved by democracy itself. They require a hard process of economic and cultural development throughout Egyptian society. Egypt’s real risk is that it has not formed a stable pillar to support democratic governance. Revolution broke out and changed the country, but there is no force to sustain that change. Therefore, the country is temporarily under the control of the military. However, in the months to come, the leader will still be elected from the old forces in the Middle East country, since there is still no new force to  take over.

Egypt has a population of more than 78 million. With underdeveloped industry, it produces far less oil than Gulf countries. It is the US’ largest aid recipient country in the Middle East and the US ensured that the Mubarak regime was pro-American.

If Egypt’s future national path is chosen with the help of the United States, the significance of Mubarak’s stepping down will be greatly reduced.

If the Egyptians carry out elections by themselves, and encourage the Middle East to make its own choices, nobody could foretell the lasting consequences of this revolution.

Various forces in the Middle East, including extremist forces, will engage in a brand-new competition to imprint upon Egypt’s new social makeup. Egypt may well be the first chapter in a regional saga in this light.

As the Middle East is still an important balance point for major forces in the world, the region’s governance, democratic or not, will have wide-reaching impacts.

The temporary takeover by the military can be seen as a response to global concerns. However, it is only a transitional military regime, lasting a few months,before the Egyptian society gets ready for democracy.

Therefore, when the military regime returns the regime to the people, it could really show the difficulty facing the Egyptian revolution.

( The writer Mr B Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

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