The ongoing political turmoil in Egypt is half a world away from Payson, but on Wednesday, residents got an update on the region’s happenings from an unlikely source.
Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores spoke for more than an hour on the upcoming run-off election to seat a new Egyptian president after the overthrow of the country’s ruler Hosni Mubarak last year. A judge recently sentenced Mubarak to life in prison on corruption charges as well as his involvement in the killings of 850 protesters at the start of revolt overthrew him in January 2011.
Flores said Egypt would likely remain in turmoil for some time as the country struggles to restore security, revive the economy and unify around a new leader.
Andy McKinney, co-founder of the Rim Country Foreign Policy Forum, invited Flores to speak to the group after learning about her background in Egyptian studies.
Flores earned her undergraduate and master’s from the University of Arizona in near eastern studies.
“It is rare I get to share my passion for foreign affairs in my professional life as the county attorney and so I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.
Flores said her affinity for foreign languages led her to study Russian, Arabic, French and Persian.
“I was most proficient in the Egyptian dialect of Arabic and I earned a fellowship to study at Ains Shams University in Cairo in 1993 as part of my master’s program.”
Studying in Egypt offered Flores a perspective on how the other half of the world lives.
“Living and studying in a foreign country, especially a Middle Eastern country, I was enlightened as to the liberties and privileges we all take for granted in the United States,” she said. “Egypt is a many faceted jewel as truly the cradle of civilization. The historical wonders of Egypt are side-by-side with some of the most daunting challenges of modern society.”
While in Egypt, Flores also trained with the country’s fencing team.
Flores had competed nationally in fencing since the early ’90s, winning nationals and representing the United States on the World Team in 2002.
“While in Egypt I trained with their Olympic team, which was a unique experience for both me and them as rarely at the time would women fencers compete into adulthood,” she said.
In 2002, Flores gave up fencing to run for county attorney.
Although she ultimately won the county attorney seat, Flores said she still has a passion for foreign affairs and regularly keeps track of Egyptian happenings.
“I hope the group walked away with a better appreciation of the political turmoil of the presidential election and run-off currently occurring in Egypt and the repercussions of the downfall of Hosni Mubarak for Egypt, the U.S. and the Middle East in general,” she said.
The Payson Foreign Policy Forum will hold another meeting at noon, June 27 at the Senior Center. The guest will be Mike Clark, former commander of a unit that was part of a joint task force bravo in Honduras. The unit was responsible for aviation training to the Honduran and Guatemalan Army.