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If the West Would Step Up

Author: Ed Husain, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
August 14, 2013
NYTimes.com

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Barricades, bullets, blood and bombastic statements will not "restore democracy" in Egypt. The Arab Spring has not failed yet, but it is in intensive care and increasingly neglected by democrats around the world.

It is still not too late: the Arab Spring can be saved, but to do so requires international effort. What happens in Egypt does not stay in Egypt. The military's persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood is providing fuel to global Islamist radicalism, and in the minds of young Muslim activists, the credibility of democracy is being burned. Let us not forget that Egypt's prisons and military dictators gave us Ayman al-Zawahiri and a cadre of other jihadists. A new generation of extremists will be born unless the democratic process finds oxygen in Egypt.

For almost two years, the I.M.F. has dithered about whether to grant a $4.8 billion loan package to Egypt. Without that I.M.F. endorsement, capital from Europe and America remained locked. International financial institutions, allegedly friends of democracy, stood by and watched Egypt's economy suffer as leaders and citizens tried to instill democracy. Egyptian government incompetence did not help. While the West fumbled, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates supported Egypt's military coup and injected $12 billion into Egypt's treasury. For autocracy, money is readily available. For democracy, there are too many hurdles.

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