Contemporary Egypt: Through Egyptian Eyes: Essays in Honour of Professor P.J. Vatikiotis

Contemporary Egypt: Through Egyptian Eyes: Essays in Honour of Professor P.J. Vatikiotis

Contemporary Egypt: Through Egyptian Eyes: Essays in Honour of Professor P.J. Vatikiotis

Contemporary Egypt: Through Egyptian Eyes: Essays in Honour of Professor P.J. Vatikiotis

Synopsis

The essays in this volume provide invaluable insight into the social forces, the political conflicts and the personalities that have shaped contemporary Egypt, and Egypt's current economic, political and diplomatic dilemmas. The press has been extraordinarily influential in shaping Egyptian political debate, and two essays here are devoted to an examination of its activities, and the efforts of those in power to control it, in different periods in Egypt's modern history. The careers of individuals politically active during the period of the Monarchy can offer considerable insight into contemporary currents in political life, and studies are provided here of al-Nathas, Makram Ebeid and Ali Mahir. The influence of foreign powers over the development of Egypt is an issue taken up in an essay on the relationship between Nasser and the United States. Finally, three chapters on the problems facing Egypt at political, economic and diplomatic levels - the last by Secretary General of the United Nations Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali - provide an authoritative assessment of the general situation of contemporary Egypt. One purpose of the publication of this book is to honour Professor P. J. Vatikiotis, Emeritus Professor of Politics with reference to the Near and Middle East at the University of London.

Excerpt

Egypt does not fit easily into the generalisations made about the rest of the Arab world. It is true that, as a society and as a state, it has much in common with the countries to its east and to its west. It is inhabited by people who are Arabic-speaking. They are also overwhelmingly Muslim, but they coexist with a substantial and venerable Christian community which constitutes a vital part of the society. Its economy is characterised by many of the problems afflicting developing countries, seeking to industrialise and to realise the human and material potential within its borders. Historically, Egypt has been the site of splendid and powerful empires, but it also came under the sway of European imperialism and won its full independence relatively recently. It has experienced the seizure of power by military officers, the establishment of an authoritarian regime and the foundering of that regime in military defeat and financial insolvency. Furthermore, it has played an active and, at times, decisive role in the politics of the region, causing some, not least its political leaders, to see Egypt as the model for its neighbours.

However, despite these apparent similarities, it would be a mistake to believe that other states can necessarily follow where Egypt leads, or that they should see their future reflected in its present condition. the long and relatively stable history of the peoples inhabiting the valley of the Nile north of Aswan has laid moral foundations for the unitary state which are not easily found elsewhere in the region. Regardless of whether or not Egypt was regarded officially as the province of a larger empire, political life has centred unmistakably on Cairo for hundreds of years. If the weight of historical experience transforms quantity into quality, so too does the very size of Egyptian society and the scale of its

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