U.S. Press Beating the Drums for Cutting Egypt's Aid
After Egyptian Opposition leader Ayman Nour was sentenced to five years in prison and the recent appalling Sudanese refugees killings, many articles were written in the American press questioning the Bush Administration stance from the deteriorating records of human rights and Egypt's intention and willingness to take the path of democracy and freedom.
The New York Post wrote in its article “The Price of Repression": “If Mubarak's Egypt wants to continue getting U.S. funds, it had better recognize these facts: There is a basic code of conduct with respect to basic human rights and freedoms — and jailing the opposition isn't part of that code.”
The Washington Post in its article “Stand Up to Mr. Mubarak” questioned whether the Bush Adminstration is willing to exercise pressure on the Egyptian regime as saying: “The Bush administration has issued predictable public statements expressing "serious concerns" and calling for Mr. Nour's release on humanitarian grounds. With equal predictability, Mr. Mubarak's foreign minister has rejected the White House appeals. Now comes the real test: Will President Bush use the considerable means of American leverage over the Egyptian regime in defense of Mr. Nour?”
The article continues “If Mr. Bush's reaction is limited to the tepid rhetoric of "serious concerns," Mr. Mubarak will have demonstrated that democracy is no more important to U.S. policy now that it was before Sept. 11, 2001. The way will be open for him to install his 42-year-old son, Gamal, as his successor.”
The article suggests as a solution “A first step would be to suspend all discussions between his administration and Egypt over a free-trade agreement…Mr. Bush should also order a long-overdue review of U.S. aid to Egypt, beginning with its military component. Subsidizing the Egyptian army might have made sense during the Cold War, but by helping Mr. Mubarak's generals now, the United States merely props up his dictatorship.”
The Washington Post concludes “Any effort to reform the U.S.-Egyptian relationship will be opposed by those in Washington who have never supported Mr. Bush's democracy agenda. But sentiment in Congress is shifting. This month the House passed a resolution by a vote of 388 to 22 calling on Mr. Bush to "take into account" Egypt's progress toward democracy "when determining the type and nature of United States diplomatic engagement with the government of Egypt; and the type and level of assistance to be requested for the government of Egypt." Mr. Nour's imprisonment must trigger that accounting.”
The New York Times’ editorial, Hosni Mubarak’s Democracy described the Nour’s sentence to one of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe’s moves. It also mentioned that President Hosni Mubarak “doesn't have the stomach for” holding “at least nominally competitive elections”, as “the government reverted to bullying tactics, as security forces shot tear gas, rubber bullets and even live ammunition into crowds that wanted only to vote. More than a dozen people were killed”.
The New York Times concludes the editorial as saying “The Bush administration has been right to pressure Mr. Mubarak to support some semblance of a democratic process in Egypt, and the White House was correct to call for Mr. Nour's release, as it did within hours of the verdict. If Mr. Mubarak doesn't take heed, then it might be time to start thinking about the $2 billion a year in financial and military aid that American taxpayers have spent bankrolling Mr. Mubarak's despotic rule.”
Reading the three articles apparently the American public opinion is beating the drums for pressuring the Bush Administration towards more firm measures towards the Mubarak ruling in Egypt that is proving its failure to heed to the U.S. calls to apply true political reform towards democracy and freedom. The Egyptian-US relationship is witnessing unprecedented silence over the past few months. The U.S. has started sending the messages decently when President Bush said in his famous speech in November 2003 that Egypt "has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East and now can show the way toward democracy in the Middle East." Actually, it was Iraq with the help of the US that was capable of showing the first budding democracy in the Middle East with exception to Israel. The message did not go through though. Then U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice paid a visit to Egypt last summer to give another signal that the U.S. is taking democracy in the Middle East seriously.
The tone of the three reviewed articles is directly addressing the Egyptian President as the main obstcale in front of democracy and freedom in Egypt. The language of the articles is written in a way showing less respect to one of the main US allies in the Middle East as the New York Times said in the first lines of the editoral that Mubarak resembles Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
Now the Bush Administration is almost ignoring the Egyptian regime. There is no sign of any political support. Is this the silence that precedes the storm? Is Washington watching their ally continuing to make more mistakes?