The Sick Man of the World

(Washington Post) Saad Eddin Ibrahim - Most of the 30-odd countries of what American officials are calling the Greater Middle East have been sociopolitically stagnant for decades. This is not for lack of popular desire for change. Saudi women defied the puritanical Wahhabi traditions and broke a stifling taboo by driving their cars in the streets of Riyadh 14 years ago. Thousands of political prisoners have been rotting in Syrian, Tunisian, and Egyptian detention compounds for years without trials. Such people provide an eloquent answer to the Arab rulers who met recently in Riyadh and Cairo for the purpose not of proposing plans for reform but of circumventing such plans. Egypt's President Mubarak seems to be taking the lead in resisting democratization in the region. The writer is a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo.

2004-04-02 00:00:00

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