As elections loom, Egypt must unify
The Army and government in Egypt must chart a clear road map for the months ahead. And speaking of a road map, a renewed effort must be made to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on pre-1967 borders.
“Where is Egypt going?” a driver named Mohamed asked me recently. It is the question on everyone’s mind as the Arab Spring of popular revolution is giving way to the new season of free elections this autumn.Skip to next paragraph
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At this unique moment in history, there are two critical challenges that face this nation at the heart of the Arab world. The first is how to further catalyze and consolidate the democratic transition through re-establishing unity among all Egyptians. The second is the related issue of achieving a commitment to peace in the Middle East that is genuinely supported by the Egyptian public.
In the months since former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, the road to democracy has been rocky, but the spirit of optimism is still high. I remember the thousands of people who lined up across Tahrir Square at the entrance to the American University in Cairo to witness the announcement of the National Project for Scientific Renaissance and the building of the new City of Science and Technology.
At last, it was felt, Egypt would be rejoining the future that had been blocked by dictatorship. My nationally televised speech on that occasion was entitled "Musr al-Amal" – Egypt: The Hope.
That optimism was shaken by an event that took place on the last Friday of July, when the world witnessed the largest demonstration since the “dethroning” of Mr. Mubarak. The Islamists gathered there called for the new Egypt to be governed according to strict sharia law. The display of Saudi-like flags among the crowd prompted headlines such as “Bin Laden is in Tahrir.”
Then, in September, came the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo in response to the killing of Egyptian servicemen by Israeli forces in Sinai. This caused great alarm, especially in the United States, about the security of Israel and the future of peace in the Middle East.