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“For 60 years, the United States pursued stability at the expense of democracy in the Middle East -- and we achieved neither.” These were the shocking, yet realistic, words of former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, in her speech at the American University in Cairo in June 2005. Amanda Kadlec’s article in the International Affairs Review reminded me of these words. This was not the only statement that stuck to my mind and made me stop and think while reading her article. Kadlec presented many points revealing the view of the American administration towards the Egyptian system. The American administration is perfectly aware of how corrupt the Egyptian system is and how it rigs elections and does not represent public opinion or the people’s political will. However, from the American perspective, this system serves as a mediator of the peace process in the region, especially in the Arab Israeli conflict. In the words of the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the Egyptian American partnership can be characterized as the “cornerstone of the Middle East’s stability and security,” while questioning the cost of such a partnership and its potential for endurance.

The above transitions us to the core of our conversation. As the Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani states, according to Wikileaks, in his speech to Senator John Kerry about the role of Egypt as a mediator in the Palestinian peace process, Egypt “has no end game; serving as broker of the talks is Egypt’s only business interest with the U.S.” This is the core of the problem and what explains the circular paths that the Middle East peace process has taken from its inception until today. While we cannot judge the motives of the Egyptian system based on the impressions of the Qatari Prime Minister, we can certainly consider his point of view an extremely accurate description of what is thought by all activists, concerned people, and those who follow Egyptian issues, especially within Egypt. Everyone here knows that the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the peace talks in the region are what the Egyptian system relies on to create new chances for survival after gradually losing internal support and when the legitimacy of the current state of reliance on internal security ceases to exist. It is also thought of by the Egyptian system as what will preserve its power when it loses international/American legitimacy, which offers support and misleading notions from the outside, ensuring the regime’s continued stability.

In Egypt, everyone knows that the expectations and hopes of the Egyptian people for democracy is merely a document with multiple purposes within the negotiations of the Arab Israeli conflict.  The Egyptian authorities use it to ensure their survival, the American authorities use it to realize their interests in the region, and Israel uses it to protect its national security. Unfortunately, this is the shameful reality known to everyone. However, everyone also knows that within these great stakes lies a great deal of miscalculations. Thus, there is no need for strategic experts to realize that this stability, no matter how long or little it lasts, is fake and unsustainable. Internally, Egypt has almost reached a point of transformation. It could happen as a result of the fact that time has nearly ended for the man that the system revolves around or due to the archaic nature of the system itself, the built-in challenges that have accumulated over time threatening its sustainability, or due to the lack of any formal or superficial reforms to allow it to persist at least without any dramatic losses. According to Amanda Kadlec, regionally and internationally, there is no need for the basic rights (civil and political) of Egyptians to be compromised for the sake of a “foggy regional stability that has no defining characteristics” or for the sake of “empty promises of stability” as Mohamed Al Baradei states at the opening of the Washington Post last week. Regarding this initial stage, “real stability in Egypt will depend on true democratic advances” and that the “false stability we have now is nothing but a time bomb about to explode; lasting stability in Egypt will not happen without a true democracy that is responsive to the needs and expectations of the people.” Who amongst us does not see this? However, the question is whether the American administration sees it in such a light or whether it does not wish to see it as such?

Basem Fathy is the Media Coordinator for Egyptian Democracy Academy, and the founder of the “4democracy” blog.