After the end of World War I, the 1919 Egyptian Revolution broke out calling for liberty, independence and democracy. This revolution resulted in 28 February 1922 declaration which recognized Egypt as an independent state (with some reservations) and terminated Egypt as a British protectorate.
Based on this new status, a new Egyptian Constitution was promulgated in April 1923 by a 30-member legislative committee that included representatives of political parties, as well as national movement leaders.
The 1923 Constitution of Egypt was a previous working constitution of Egypt during the period 1923-1952. It was replaced by the 1930 Constitution for a 5-year period (19301935) before being restored in 1935. It adopted the parliamentary representative system based on separation of and cooperation among authorities. The Parliament was bicameral system made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
During 1923 - 1952 Egypt witnessed a remarkable experience rich in political and democratic practices, however, such an experience was marked with many defects such as the British occupation, foreign intervention in Egypt's affairs and the royal palace's interference in political life.
Posted: 25 Feb 2011 10:12 AM PST
In 1938 the Saudi diplomat Hafiz Wahbah secretly met with Zionist leader (and future Israeli prime minister) David Ben-Gurion.
Wahbah explained to Ben-Gurion why it was impossible to negotiate a lasting peace. A few years before, Wahbah recounted, when he had called for peace in Jerusalem, Wahbah had mentioned that Jerusalem was a holy city for Jews and Christians as well as for Muslims.
In response, he continued, he received a stack of cables and insults asking how much the Jews had paid him to say that.
Compromise could not take place, Wahbah concluded, in an atmosphere where everyone was afraid he might be accused of treason.
Recently, in the "Palestine Papers" controversy, the idea that Palestinian Authority negotiators might have made in passing on one occasion--though they then abandoned the idea--a couple of real proposed concessions--led to the officials involved going into hiding, denying, and resigning.
Now with political upheavals and even revolutions in the Arab world--which many Arabs attribute to the rejection of governments too friendly with the West and too willing to make peace with Israel--the idea that compromise would be equated with treason is as likely today as it was in 1938.
Oh, and by the way, in 1938, Egypt had a parliamentary system with free elections. Four years later, though, the British surrounded the king's palace with tanks and forced him to appoint another government. The existing one, you see, favored a Nazi victory and with General Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Corps crossing into Egypt the British could no longer afford that luxury.
Of course, in principle the Middle East can change for the better. It just doesn't seem to do so too much in practice. And that's a problem for people who live in Western societies where change for the better is assumed as universal and inevitable.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The GLORIA Center's site is http://www.gloria-center.org/ and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.