Bush sees positives for U.S. in Egypt, Arab Spring
Former president sees widespread protests as 'good thing'
When the dust settles from the protests in Egypt and other Arab nations, the resulting political balance will be favorable to the United States, former President George W. Bush predicts.
"I think (it's) a good thing," he said in an interview with ABC News broadcast Sunday, speaking broadly about the Arab Spring, the string of protests in the Middle East and North Africa stretching back more than two years.
When in office, Bush supported reform, democracy and greater freedoms in the region. He cited those principles as important for building new governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in a November 2003 speech in Washington, he pointed to Egypt as a country which showed potential for such change.
"The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East," he said. "Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it's the only path to national success and dignity."
Nearly 10 years later, on Sunday supporters of the recently deposed Egyptian president continued their demonstrations against what they saw as a military coup, while supporters of the new government also rallied and awaited the naming of a new prime minister. Millions of people turned out to demonstrations last week as the Egyptian military ousted the country's first democratically elected government but promised a roadmap to a new democratic government.
Dozens were killed and over 1,000 were wounded in clashes on Saturday alone.
Bush addressed the violence and uncertainty in the region in the ABC interview, which was recorded while he was in Tanzania.
"Sure, it is tumultuous," Bush said. "But it's a good thing in that people are demanding their rightful place. And they overthrew a corrupt regime in Tunisia. They were unhappy with leadership that wouldn't listen to them in Egypt."
Former President Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, said on Sunday the "military made a terrible mistake" in ousting Morsy, who won last year in an "honest and fair" election. He attributed the shortcomings of the Morsy government that motivated the protests as remnants from the regime of predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
He and representatives from his center observed several of last year's elections and gave them a generally favorable review, despite noting inconsistencies, irregularities and restrictions. Carter pledged to send delegates to future elections there if he could not attend himself.
Bush said, is going through "an evolution" because new democratic governments "take a while to take root."
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