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memri
February 3, 2003 No.
465

Egypt's Foreign Minister on U.S.-Middle East Peace Initiative:<BR>'Powell's Proposal is the Epitome of Idiocy'

In a speech delivered on December 12, 2002, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell described the U.S.-sponsored Partnership Initiative as a plan which seeks to advance the Middle East's ability to educate and democratize its citizenry, and to widen its participation in the global economic system.[1] These types of reform, Powell stated, must come from within, as "only Middle Eastern engagement will sustain [them]." Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher strongly criticized the initiative in an interview with the Egyptian weekly Al-Musawwar.[2] The following are excerpts from the interview:

"Powell's proposal is the epitome of idiocy. What aroused ridicule is that for a long time now Egypt has been carrying out democratic development, and has [even] had many achievements in this area. We are not saying that we have established the ideal democratic state, because no one has, including America and Europe, but we have instituted change in all areas. We have progressed greatly in education, girls' education, women's rights, and women's status."

"In all these matters, we have needed no one to dictate to us what to do. There is misapprehension regarding the psychology of peoples; it is natural for each people and each country to wish to develop by itself. What is strange is when someone comes from outside in order to dictate development to the countries and the peoples. If this happened [to us], we would say to America: 'See to yourself first; see for yourself, since you need a great deal of development.'"

"We do not need anyone to teach us. Perhaps our democracy is not ideal, but we have actualized a great deal in this matter, and we continue to progress. Anyone who wants to help us is welcome [to do so] – provided that he doesn't think he can teach us [how to do it], or dictate to us what to do. The choice is ours, and the action is [also] ours. No one can give us dictates."


[1] See MEMRI's past reports on this subject:

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 115: Arab Media Reactions to The U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative - Part I: Opponents' Views: {{nodeurl-784">http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/784}};

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 116: Arab Media Reactions to the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative - Part II: In Support of the Initiative: Arab Media Reactions to the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative Part II: In Support of the Initiative;

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 117: Arab Media Reactions to The U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative Part III: It's a Zionist/American Plot: Arab Media Reactions to The U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative Part III: It's a Zionist/American Plot

[2] Al-Musawwar, January 10, 2003.