April 10, 2013

Regarding the April 2 editorial “Preserving Egypt’s civil society”:

The Post seemed to argue that Egyptian legislation should be evaluated on the metric of whether such legislation “reduce[s] the West’s ability to influence Egypt’s course.” It is concerning that such a respected newspaper would take the position that Egypt’s affairs should be directed from Washington.

This viewpoint represents everything that is wrong with “Western” foreign policy. For many Egyptians, the United States had the ability to “influence” past Egyptian governments, and the result was precisely the set of circumstances that led to the Egyptian revolution: violations of dignity, repression, economic maldistribution.

The Arab Spring afforded the “Western,” Arab and Muslim worlds a rare opportunity to recalibrate how we relate to one another. Egyptians will not countenance relations with another nation in which they become an object to be influenced. Rather, Egypt’s new foreign policy must be based on values of dignity and respect, as well as mutual interests and benefits.

There is no doubt that Egypt faces a challenging set of circumstances. We are developing our own brand of representative government in order to make the demands of the revolution a reality. In creating this form of government, rooted in Egyptian values and norms, we will draw on the best examples of the transition to democracy by other nations. Mistakes will undoubtedly be made, but they will be our mistakes. From our friends in the international community, we expect advice and support. We do not expect, nor shall we accept, oversight or intervention.

Khaled al-Qazzaz, Cairo

The writer is secretary of the president of Egypt on foreign affairs.