Egyptian polling stations opened Monday morning across the country. Tens of thousands of inspectors-judges, representatives of civil organizations, foreign diplomats and even representatives of the Arab League have arrived to ensure that no one would try to tamper with the ballots.
The truth is that there is no need for that. Barring any dramatic surprises, "Egypt's strongman," Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will be the president. All surveys grant the second candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, symbolic success. Sabahi himself is already offering his services, hoping that they'll just take him, as the prime minister or vice president.
Next week will be the turn of the sweeping victory in Syria. After arranging two anonymous "rivals" for himself and forcibly taking the right to vote from the six million refugees who have run away from him, Bashar Assad will be the "rais" for the third time. He will of course justify himself by saying that "that's what the nation wants," and no one will be able to force him to keep promises or create reforms.
The reason is so prosaic: Up until this moment he hasn't even bothered presenting a political platform or economic programs. He doesn't have to. Bashar will win for certain, and after the elections, as they say, everything will work out (for him).
In the past few days I have been hearing more and more complaints from people I talk to in the Arab world that Israel – and the criticism focuses constantly on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – only wants dictators in our neighborhood. We democrats don't care about the Arab Spring, the protests, the terrible economic distress, the refugees and the terror attacks.
My interlocutors present irrefutable proof of their claim, how Israeli messengers are lobbying vigorously, as we speak, for the waiting president al-Sisi among the high echelons of the administration in Washington. Netanyahu, they say instinctively, is insisting on not getting in Bashar's way. He is the only one he wants in the palace.
It's not our problemBetween you and me, they're right. We're better off with dictators. A look at the 22 states of the Arab world provides a feeling that it's more helpful for us to have a rais with iron fists in charge of the security and army systems. Any other adventure, in the name of freedom of expression and human rights, is asking for trouble.
Al-Sisi has already thrown a crushing remark towards all those developing high expectations, that this is not the time to dream about democracy. First of all, he will build the country, and the economy, and the investments, and the tourism, and will settle the score with the Islamists. Good for him.
From our angle, the important thing is that he promised Sinai would not be a center of terror against Eilat, and all the rest is the problem of 90 million people in Egypt. It's not our problem.
Two-thirds of the citizens of the neighboring countries – Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan – and the countries in the second circle – Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia and Iraq – are young people under the age of 30. Some of them are university graduates, the large majority is unemployed and frustrated, and the government only gives a hoot about them when they go out to protest against it.
We have no access to them. They can continue tweeting on the social networks. Their blogs, believe me, are fascinating. But when it comes to government versus government, we only want contact – above or under the table – with dictators.
At the end of the day, this is not the time for the bleeding hearts.
In the name of the egoistic interest, we vote for Bashar, we support al- Sisi, we are willing to make an effort for the Jordanian royal family to live on, and in the meantime it doesn't matter that Hassan Nasrallah is interfering in the election of a new president in Lebanon or that Iraq's manipulating prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, runs to Tehran for operating instructions.
We will not prevent the dictators' from giving food to the masses, raising investments, building factories, and throwing whoever they want in jail. Let the government in Washington rack its brains about democracy and freedom of expression. We are not taking any chances. We are better off with tyrants.