Monday, July 11, 2011

True sovereignty is what Arabs are after

By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star

Two developments in Syria and Egypt this week have helped clarify what is going on, and what is really at stake. These two are the return of tens of thousands of protests to Tahrir Square in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, to express discontent with the slow pace of the trials of individuals from the former Mubarak regime accused of graft and killing; and the visit to central Hama by Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria.

These two very different events converge in focusing our attention on the ultimate issue at stake in the Arab revolts, the prize, if you will: national sovereignty. This has been the heart of the ongoing political confrontation between Arab citizens and their ruling authorities since the current revolt started in December in Tunisia. However, in reality the contest over Arab sovereignty dates back many decades....

The developments in Cairo and Hama this week are significant because they go to the heart of the matter of who ultimately shapes national policy in Arab states. Egyptians who return to the streets in their hundreds of thousands send the message that they see power as being vested in the people, and thus expect their government to pursue policies that are shaped by citizens and respond to their demands and rights. It is important to recognize the political and historical significance of this development at this delicate and decisive transitional moment that will shape for many years the nature of national political sovereignty in Egypt...."

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