Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rice: Democracy in the Arab countries Needed a Generation

Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak boasted that Egypt had won over US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to its views on democracy in the Arab world and quoted her as saying it would take a generation for democracy to take hold. “She was very polite as she was listening to Egyptian opinions and points of view. She didn’t bring up difficult issues or ask to change anything or to intervene in political reform, as some people say,” he told newspaper editors.

Mubarak, who met Rice in Cairo last Wednesday, was speaking on Monday on his way back from a trip to the Gulf. His remarks were published in the government newspaper Al-Gomhuria. “She was convinced by the way that political reform and the implementation of democracy is being done in Egypt... She said that democracy in the Arab countries needed a generation,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

In public in Cairo, Rice said she had talked candidly with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit about what she called setbacks and disappointments in Egyptian domestic politics during 2005, including the jailing of liberal opposition leader Ayman Nour. Political analysts say the US campaign for democracy in the Arab world, which began in earnest as an explanation for the US invasion of Iraq, has lost steam in recent months and definetly abandoned.

Mubarak said that at their first meeting Rice told him she knew nothing about the Middle East. But after listening to the Egyptians, “she understood the truth about the situation in the Arab region,” he added. Mubarak had also urged US Vice President Dick Cheney to heed his advice “for once” and not to take military action against Iran, Egyptian newspapers reported yesterday. “I warned Cheney against a strike on Iran and told him: ‘Listen to my advice for once’,” he was quoted as telling Cheney, who was a strong advocate of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite Arab opposition.

Cheney and Mubarak met on Jan. 17 and discussed Iran’s controversial nuclear program during a visit by the vice president. Last month, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that Washington did not rule out using military force against Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. Mubarak, quoted in the press, said an attack on Iran would only serve to strengthen the insurgency in neighboring Iraq.

Mubarak also said an Israeli attack on Iran was most unlikely because Tehran would respond by launching ballistic missiles at the Jewish state. “If an air strike (against Iran) took place, Iraq will turn into terrorist groups more than it is already...".

Mubarak is former Egyptian Air force General.


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