20 January, 2009

Mubaraks "realism" and propaganda

I'd like to recommend a couple of good articles on Egypt's position towards Israel and the Palestinians. Nael Shama does a good job of countering the arguments put forward by the state's "propaganda machine" in this article in The Daily News. The position of Mubarak is explored further by Baheyya, who writes in an interesting post:

"If Mubarak today has no compunction about openly aligning his interests with Israel’s, this isn’t a sharp break from the 1980s so much as a shift in impression management. Before, Mubarak was just as cooperative with Israel as he is today, he simply invested more energy in rhetoric to hide this fact. Today, he’s lost interest in keeping up appearances, and seems perfectly comfortable being a tinpot autocrat with nothing more on his mind than keeping his patrons happy and his population cowed."

Read the rest of the post, which examines the reasons for this change and points the central role played by the idea of inheritance of power:

"On the foreign policy front, the story of Gamal Mubarak is the story of how the Egyptian government ceased to promote a broadly defined Egyptian national interest and worked to promote a narrowly defined ruling class interest organically bound up with Israeli interests."

This, one might add, is the story of the neoliberal wave that has swept the world since the seventies, equating the national interest of third world countries with the interests of big business, multinational companies, and a tiny ruling elite. It's not unique to Egypt, except for the particular form this transition is taking here: a transformation from a populist-authoritarian regime into a pseudo-monarchy.

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