Now that Hosni Mubarak has responded to massive protests by stepping down as Egyptian President Friday after a reign of over 30 years, the Egyptian Army has taken temporary rule until elections can be held in September. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham says he hopes a stable democratic government can be set up in Egypt. Such a government, he says, would have a long-lasting effect on the Middle East for years to come.
Appearing on CNN Sunday, Graham says he hopes the Egyptian people take their time and set up political parties before the actual elections, but he has some reservations.
I worry that we will rush to an election where the Muslim Brotherhood, who is the most organized, but doesn’t represent the true will of the Egyptian people, will have a disproportionate affect. I worry about the Egyptian Army; will it hold together. Will the young officers accept the rule of the senior people? Will the Army really subordinate itself to civilian control as this new democracy unfolds?
Graham says what happens as the new Egyptian government takes shape over the next few months and years will have a ripple effect throughout the Middle East.
If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, all hell breaks loose in the Middle East, so I worry about what happens over the next six months to a year in Egypt, affecting our relationship with Saudi Arabia, with Jordan, and Israel. Now is the time to stand by Israel without equivocation and help the people in Egypt form a democracy. At the end of the day, the task they’ve chosen will be difficult, but do-able.
Graham points out that longtime Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei says it will take years before all the institutions are in place for Egypt to truly have a stable democratic government.
There really is no independent judiciary; there are no political parties. The constitution that has been in place has been basically used to outlaw political parties. I’m looking for a free, fair, transparent election that will get the full flavor of Egypt. A rushed election could help an organization like the Muslim Brotherhood. My advice to the Egyptian people is to take your time: reach out to the world at large. A lot of people want to help you. I’m not so sure you can do all that you need to do between now and September to have an election that reflects the full will of the Egyptian people and create democratic capacity.