Despite uncertainties Egypt is on the right track, says prominent political expert

Dina Ezzat, Wednesday 13 Jul 2011

Pascal Boniface, the director of the Institute for International Relations and Strategies, tells Ahram Online during a trip to Cairo that the Arab spring is good for Israel, if not the current Israeli government

(Photo file)

"What Egypt is going through is normal and it happens in [almost] every situation of this kind," said Pascal Boniface, director of the Institute for International Relations and Strategies (IRIS).

Speaking to Ahram Online in Cairo on Tuesday on the fringe of his participation in a seminar organized by the Centre for Economic, Judicial, and Social Study and Documentation (CEDEJ) on transition in Egypt, the prominent French analyst sounded confident that Egypt is going to pass through the hiccups of the move from a dictatorship to a democracy in due time.

"You cannot pass from one system to the other in one day," Boniface said. He noted that after all and despite some confrontations "there is not too much violence in the political process," which could have occurred, and overall people are well aware that it is through "the votes and not weapons" that the fate of this process will be determined.

"And if there is some dissatisfaction with how the transitional phase is going on then that is normal," Boniface stated.

Meanwhile, Boniface warned against what he termed "a historical and political mistake" of calculations to argue that the immediate alternative to the rule of the Hosni Mubarak regime is Islamist rulebe it that of the Muslim Brotherhood or a wider coalition of Islamists.

For Boniface it was the dictatorial rule of Mubarak that gave prominence to the Muslim Brotherhood and other political Islamic groups, which he suggests are unlikely to get 50 per cent of the overall parliament seats in the next elections.

Boniface is convinced that "once confronted in real life it is much more difficult" for the political Islam groups to keep arguing that it is them who could deliver the nation to its ideals.

The IRIS director blamed Western countries for their "short-sighted" approach in perceiving the possible influence of political Islamic groups on the fate of Egypt and insisted that Egypt of 2011 is not Iran of 1979 and not even Algerian of the 1990s simply because Egypt does not have the Aytollah Khomeini of Iran and because the Muslim Brotherhood does not have the influence of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria.

"We have to remember that what happened in Egypt was a revolution that was national, secular and peaceful," stressed Boniface. He added that the only successful ending that the Egyptian people are most likely to accept is the establishment of "a national democracy".

Boniface stressed that the West, especially Europe and the countries of the north Mediterranean, have "a strong interest" in lending Egypt all possible political and economic support to help turn it into a true partner rather than an assumed partner that simply follows the will of the West, mostly that of Washington, more often than not.

The success of Egypt, and indeed that of Tunis, according to Bonficae could be helped considerably by the settlement of the disturbed situations in Libya and Syria. When Egypt and Tunis succeed, he also suggested, that would help Libya, particularly, and also Syria to find the right political exit out of the current problems they are facing.

Meanwhile, the prominent French political analyst argued that overall the Arab Spring could eventually change the dynamics of the political process that aims to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which it is ultimately in the interest of the Israeli people to make peace with the Arab peopleswho are not opposed to a fair peace, according to Bonifaceand their truly elected governments rather than with imposed governments that essentially act upon the will of the West.

For Boniface, the Arab Spring, especially the Egyptian revolution, is therefore ultimately “good news for Israel even if it is not good news for the current Israeli government."

And for Boniface the ability of a post January 25 revolution Egypt to prompt the necessary Western intervention with Israel to pursue a fair peace is higher than that of Egypt before the revolution.

"After the revolution the popularity of Egypt in the West increased compared to what it was before," said Boniface. He added, "We can again be hopeful".

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