Amre Moussa on the Arab Spring: An Agenda for Change

, by Jill Haapaniemi

Amre Moussa on the Arab Spring: An Agenda for Change
Amre Moussa at the 37th G8 Summit in Deauville in May 2011 Source : Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-3.0.

This past Monday on June 20, 2011, the Spinelli Group hosted a conference on the “Arab Spring” at the European Parliament in Brussels with Secretary General of the Arab League and 2011 Presidential candidate Amre Moussa.

At the start of the event, former Prime Minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt introduced Moussa as both a prime witness and a key player to the events happening in the Arab world. He also acknowledged Europe’s lack of understanding that the revolutions starting back in January were about democracy, not religion, and that their slow response to act due to this lack of understanding was unacceptable, enforcing that the same mistakes cannot be made again.

Moussa, who has been highly involved in Arab foreign affairs as the former Ambassador to Egypt and current Secretary General of the Arab League, began by expressing his appreciation for all of the young faces he saw at the conference, stressing the importance of their interest in what has been and what is happening in the Mediterranean and Arab World. In regards to the Arab Spring, Moussa is optimistic. He knows that the process will not be easy, but he believes Egypt as well as surrounding Arab countries are going to move from spring to summer, and eventually to winter, and “the four seasons will work together for progress and change.”

These ideas of progress and change are essential to Moussa’s plan of action. He pronounced with definitiveness the number one item on his agenda: Change. He defined this change as “moving towards democracy, reform, and development,” stressing the absolute necessity for democracy as opposed to dictatorship.

Moussa also stressed the importance of letting the electorate decide, that people have every right to revolt against oppression, and that no one can stand in the way of letting things run their course; of letting the season of spring bloom, grow and develop. The people of Egypt and political figures like Moussa want to send the message that they are not going to support bad policies, bad policies which have been running Egypt under the past regimes. Rather, they are going to side with values that are not strictly European nor African, but values of the people and the citizens that have expressed their desire through revolt to rebuild their sociopolitical system.

It is evident that the people of the Arab world want this change. “What happened in Tunisia echoed immediately in Egypt” and spread into other Arab countries. Moussa explained that what happened in Bouazizi Square marked the beginning of a new era for Egypt; an era of new values, a new society that will bring together a community of nations, both European and Arab, allowing for mobility and progress in a profitable way. However, the only way he believes this can be achieved is through immediate and intelligent implementation of reform, and that the worst possible reaction would be to ignore the voice of the people.

This urgency was the prime element surrounding Moussa’s agenda. He understands that the uprisings have raised many questions and that officials want to allot enough time to properly determine a true representative for the totality of Egyptian people, and thus want more time to draft a constitution. However, Moussa was thoroughly adamant about the fact that “procrastination has to come to an end.” If the existing problems are not immediately addressed, they are going to continue to exist. Moussa stated clearly that under his three point agenda of democracy, reform, and socioeconomic development, “the pace of launching a new republic should accelerate,” and he aims to launch the second Egyptian republic as soon as possible.

Moussa leaves no wiggle room for returning to the past. No matter what sort of regime the Arab states have been under, he demands change and democracy for all. He recognizes the economic hardships that are bound to come with demonstrations, revolutions, and a need for change, but in doing so looks to Europe for full collaboration without conditionality, to work together to overcome these hardships. “Europe will have a lot to do, helping areas socially, economically.” But despite this need for support Moussa stated that Egypt and other Arab nations do not need to be taught how to create a democracy, nor how to write a constitution. They have what it takes and the people to make it all happen, it is just a matter of being serious about the problems and how to manage them efficiently.

Together with the collaboration of Europe and through serious and immediate reform, Moussa is optimistic about the future. With certainty, he professed at Monday’s conference, “if we meet one year from now, June 2012, you will see the Arab world is not the same as now, June 2011.” He looks to his presidential candidacy not as a chance to achieve some form of coronation or attain a high-ranking position, but rather as a major responsibility; a responsibility to deal with existing problems as well as those to come, but ultimately, a responsibility to do whatever it takes to establish democracy in Egypt and the greater Arab world.

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