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US Elections – an Egyptian perspective

06/11/2012

“Will they give Obama a second chance?” was one of the toughest questions my Egyptian taxi driver Noor brought up on our long journey through the crowded streets of Cairo.  I asked her if she meant if his voters would reelect him again.  As I began to explain I realised that Noor was incredibly surprised by the fact that a second term required an election process in the first place. Although this is understandable, given that the concept of rotation of power was never a basic pillar of Egyptian politics during the last century.

Nonetheless, I told her that although I am not an Obama fan, I believe that I share more values with him than I will ever do with any Republican candidate, let alone Mitt Romney. In a very pragmatic way Noor responded saying “But what effect will it have on us if Obama is not reelected?”

Anyone who knows enough about US foreign policy, or at least followed the last Presidential foreign policy debate, knows that there won’t be any remarkable differences in terms of foreign policy decisions that might concern any Egyptian, namely the peace process, military aid, and various forms of support for autocratic regimes.

During the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution, I – very surprisingly – witnessed Egyptian liberals long for the George W. Bush era, which is something that seemed almost impossible before the Obama administration failed to proactively deal with the Arab uprisings. Always being two steps behind, I recall the now famous White House statement “ he has to leave now “ and  “ now means now” and how Al Jazeera managed to mix this message with a message from the White House Representative to Egypt, saying “Mubarak is essential for a peaceful transition”. By that time Egyptians in Tahrir Square realised that the Obama administration was simply confused and appeared to be clueless as to what to do or say.

That being said, I am not certain about what the majority of Egyptians hope for in tomorows results, however, I still hope not to see the rise of a right wing government in the US. The idea of having extreme right wing governments in Egypt and Israel at the moment is a nightmare for any leftist, and hopefully today’s results will not be a continuation of this nightmare.