Middle East: tentative steps down the road to democracy :: Economist.com
Not surprisingly, many Arabs suspect that reforms in Egypt and elsewhere are cosmetic, intended mainly to appease the Bush administration, which actively preaches democratisation as a foil to extremism. This is not entirely fair. In Egypt, for instance, reformist currents have gained prominence within the ruling National Democratic Party, just as they have within ruling families in the Gulf.
Some argue that the government needs democratic legitimacy, as much to enable it to stand up to America as to better sell the kind of liberal economic policies they believe are the surest course to prosperity.