The Palestinian prime minister says Egypt's uprising will make the region better

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 11, 2011; 5:00 PM

Although former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad sees the uprising in Egypt as something positive - the beginning of a more democratic country. And he argues that Egypt will not be the end of the story. Washington Post senior associate editor Lally Weymouth spoke to Fayyad on Thursday in his office in Ramallah. Excerpts:

What is your assessment of the situation in Egypt?

The notion that people would do this so spontaneously is something that does not happen every day, but it did happen.

Were you surprised?

Although I now understand it, it took everybody by surprise. I cannot tell you I was not surprised. After Tunisia, people started to think it could happen elsewhere. People started talking about it in terms of contagion - moving from one country to another.

How do you see this playing out in Egypt? Will the army stay in control? Will Mubarak really leave? Who is in control right now?

I can't even begin to guess how things will happen, and who will end up being in control and under what circumstances. It may help our thinking if one were to diagnose what happened first in Tunisia and then in Egypt. To me, this is not a revolt of the hungry. This looks like a case of people revolting because they want to attain political rights. It is something that has happened because there was a feeling of a deficit when it comes to a feeling of affiliation, of citizenship, that your rights are respected.

This desire for change should be honored, and how you [handle] it will have a lot to do with the outcome.

What do you think of the way the United States treated Mubarak?

You have Mubarak himself, his government, the regime in Egypt in the midst of something unprecedented. You have this constant barrage of advice that calls on Mubarak to do this, to do that.

By the United States?

Not only the United States. From the United States to the Maldives - no shortage of advice as to what should happen. In a situation like this, I am not really sure that that is the best way to do it. At some point, it begins to appear as though there is interventionism here. I am looking at it from the future of this legitimate desire for positive change. What is the best chance for it to succeed? I believe it is best for the process to run its course, for advice to be given quietly, not publicly - or you could lead to this happening in an unruly way and lead to a hard landing, and end up with an outcome that is contrary to your own interests.

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