Egyptian Liberals Meet with Rice in Cairo, so what?
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met today with a group of Egyptian democracy activists. Seven Egyptian activists and liberals told Rice that President Hosni Mubarak is setting up a false choice between his autocratic rule and the leader of Egypt's Islamic political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Rice during her meeting pledged that the United States will continue applying pressure on Egypt's government to meet its promises of reform, adding “one good thing about having the president stand for election and ask for the consent of the governed is that there is a program."
The Egyptian liberals also said that the current regime is intentionally stifling all other political forces in the society. In her hour-long meeting with seven Egyptian activists, Rice said little and took her own notes.
Egyptian writer Tarek Heggy said "Eliminating the Muslim Brotherhood is totally non-democratic. The issue is how can we compete with them." The question is big, and part of the responsibility lies on the Egyptian liberals. Heggy urged the US to "engineer reforms... to pull the carpet from under the Muslim Brothers".
Saad Al Din Ibrahim, Professor of sociology at the American University and activist, said that democracy activists are the minority in Egypt now and autocrats are maintaining their positions, hinting to the Egyptian regime, because they know that the west is standing next to them. He asked that annual US aid to Egypt should be conditional on democracy and political reform.
Samer Shehata, a professor of Arab studies at Georgetown University in Washington who is currently writing a book about last year's elections said “The liberal parties have very limited inroads in society. The political parties also suffer from the fact that they don't provide social services for Egyptians. The Muslim Brotherhood does, and some members of parliament do, and that gives them a significant advantage.”
Hashim Kassem, who is currently the deputy of Al Ghad party led by imprisoned Ayman Nour, said that what happened to Al Ghad party is shameful.
Businessman Taher Helmy said that having the Muslim Brotherhood in power will adversely affect the private business sector.
Opposition leader Ayman Nour, who came in a distant second to President Hosni Mubarak in the Sept. 7 presidential vote, listened on a jailhouse radio to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telling reporters in Cairo on Tuesday that his imprisonment was a "setback" to democratic reform in Egypt.
In a statement by Nour, read by his wife Gameela Ismail, he said he "believes that political reform cannot be restricted to his case only, but it also cannot be separated from it, because his case is just one aspect of the economic and political corruption and imbalance in Egypt and the regime's desire to monopolize power."
I still believe that Egypt is in need of true leaderships that can talk on balf of the people and be in touch with them rather than compromisung figures, complaining of the might of the Muslim Brotherhood without providing another alternatives, options or solutions. I wish I would have heard some action plans as the Muslim Brotherhood provides to the simple citizens to buy them. I wish I could know what are the impressions of Dr. Rice after this meeting.