As much of the world remains focused on Muammar Qaddafi, Ibrahim Sharqieh offers a look at the current situation in the Middle East beyond Libya. Sharqieh shares his insights in an interview with Patt Morrison of Southern California Public Radio.
Patt Morrison: First, let’s look at Egypt, where there was the first real election with real choices in a long time.
Ibrahim Sharqieh: That is true. This is very historical by all standards. The people are so excited about it. The entire region is excited about it. It hasn’t happened in a very long time. Probably over 50 to 60 years. So the success of holding a real election for the first time in 50 years in Egypt has been historical by all standards. And this is going to set a standard for the entire region. For the first time, we are getting real results.
Morrison: What are the new amendments [to Egypt’s political process] designed to do?
Sharqieh: Basically, [their purpose is] to relax the standards that were set by the National Democratic Party in the past, that allowed only certain individuals that meet a certain standard [to run for election]. Candidates had to be approved by the parliament and the ruling party itself – the National Democratic Party. So from now on, we should have more free elections and many more people will be able to run for free elections as they wish.
I think [Rouhani] seems to be prepared to leave no stone unturned in terms of warning of the possible consequences of an election that is engineered against him, but also trying to rally those who might be sceptical about the utility of their vote to come out and cast a ballot.