Thursday, May 04, 2006

Eternal Question: What will the U.S. do with Egypt?

During my stay in Egypt, I was asked this question from people who are really concerned about Egypt’s unknown future and afraid of President Mubarak’s lashing out in all directions. Well I am not so sure I am the right person to answer this question first because some of those who asked me are better informed than me. Living in the U.S. does not mean that I dine with President Bush at the White House to learn about the U.S. foreign policy. I get the news as they come as everybody else.

I felt from those who asked me this question that there is a certain hope and reliance on the U.S. to press for more political freedoms in Egypt. But as some asked hoping to know some positive news, many believe the U.S. has given up on Egypt's political freedom and that they should not rely on the U.S. for pressing the Egyptian regime. I know that Americans may never be talking about any country with reliance, but as a matter of fact many other peoples in the world look at the U.S. with hope for help at the political level.

It is difficult for me to explain the slackness of the US administration to pressure the Egyptian regime to open up for more political freedoms. No one in Egypt knows why the U.S. is being so mild in its responses towards the continuous violations made by the Egyptian regime against political freedoms and civil liberties. My answer is that Egypt is not a priority at the time being and that really in my own opinion contradicts President Bush’s pledges to push for more political freedoms in the Middle East. I might be right and I might be wrong. I know that dictatorships are not welcomed in the Middle East in the context of the United States war on terror. Tyrannical regime in the Middle East were working hard to protect their seats while failing to develop their peoples and societies which did not save some of the Middle Eastern citizens falling into the trap of terrorist networks that are not necessarily operating in the Middle East butmay be have links to it. I am not seeing the Middle East as a dangerous region as many are trying to depict it, but I am seeing it a region with huge potential to develop given all its human and wealth resources.

Seeing the political scene in Egypt while one set back after the other is happening made so many who believed the U.S. is pressuring the Egyptian regime to have some doubts about the present and future intentions of the U.S.

Since President Mubarak took office early September for the fifth term to complete 30 years in office, disasters have been falling one after the other causing huge setbacks to political freedoms and civil liberties in Egypt.

The keenness of the regime on success of the ruling National Democratic Party candidates in the legislative elections gave way to the success to so many Muslim Brotherhood candidates. And the elections were rigged in favor of striking a balance between the MB and the NDPP.

The elections was marred with violence between the police and the voters and mass arrests, not to mention that EU monitors admitted elections were rigged.

In September opposition leader Ayman Nour's immunity was lifted by the attorny general. In December he lost the rigged legislative elections and was imprisioned for five years . Two weeks ago, Nour was banned from writing his weekly article after writing an article about the President's son.

Then came the liquidation of the pro-reform Judges Club members after they complained of the rigged process of the legislative elections and their call for an independent judiciary in Egypt. Immediately, the immunity of two leading judges were lifted as a punishment and they were referred to a disciplinary hearing. Last week supporters were detained and one judge was beaten in the street as a punishment for expressing their demands.

Local electoins that were due in April were postponed for two years. Emergency law was renewed for another two years.

Freedom of the press law has been in the drawers for years waiting for endoresment with no luck. Journalists are still getting prison sentences.

One disaster after the other is happening with no accountability and no government intention to bring responsibles before justice.

Sectarian violence is erupting against Copts and terrorism is finding its way to Egypt.

I do not know what else can happen to our Egypt. Egypt has been a long standing ally to the United States and played pivotel roles at different levels.

But as I said I am not the person who can answer this question, but may be some of my American friends may have an answer this question that I carried all the way from so many Egyptians. What will the U.S. do with Egypt?


At 4:53 PM, Blogger DavidNic said...

From a bunch of statements I've read it seems that the United states is taking the view that Egypt should lead in refroms in the area and that the US is trying to use friendly relations to urge them in that direction. Sadly this has not been an effective method.

Recently this question was asked of Condoleezza Rice:

My question to you is two-folds. One, what is the American Government going to do about our friend, the Government in Egypt, since we gave them the biggest aid and since it's a human right issue and equality issue and democracy issue? And my second question is, why the State Department opened dialogue with Muslim brotherhood in Egypt after they won the -- some of the election and we know that their extreme fanatic Muslim group -- which related to Hamas as well?

At her 2005 speech at the American University in Cairo (that she refers to in her answer above) she said:

We should all look to a future when every government respects the will of its citizens -- because the ideal of democracy is universal. For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East -- and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

As President Bush said in his Second Inaugural Address: "America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, and to make their own way."

We know these advances will not come easily, or all at once. We know that different societies will find forms of democracy that work for them. When we talk about democracy, though, we are referring to governments that protect certain basic rights for all their citizens -- among these, the right to speak freely. The right to associate. The right to worship as you wish. The freedom to educate your children -- boys and girls. And freedom from the midnight knock of the secret police.

Securing these rights is the hope of every citizen, and the duty of every government. In my own country, the progress of democracy has been long and difficult. And given our history, the United States has no cause for false pride and we have every reason for humility.


People choose democracy freely. And successful reform is always homegrown. Just look around the world today. For the first time in history, more people are citizens of democracies than of any other form of government. This is the result of choice, not of coercion.

Condoleezza Rice answered:

As it comes to the broader problem in Egypt, though, you know that I gave a speech at Cairo University. We talked about the need for Egypt to lead -- this great country of Egypt to lead the democratic revolution that is going on in the Middle East. And some good things have happened. I think the multiparty, multi-candidate elections that took place were a good thing. It opened a political debate in Egypt that had never been seen before and I think it will be hard to reverse that ever again.

On the other hand, we were disappointed in the way that the last round of parliamentary elections was conducted. It certainly was not conducted in a way that was free and fair and that was a great disappointment. And we continue to tell Egypt that this is an extremely important part of our relationship and it's going to continue to be the democratic dialogue.

As to the incident the other day in Alexandria, yes, it is too often that something like this happens to religious minorities, including to Coptic Christians, and we are insisting that -- and I think the Egyptian Government says that they will, that it be investigated and those who carried it out will be brought to justice.

But it is a country that also is in an evolution, Egypt. I think it will ultimately be in an evolution for the better, but it is a country that ought to be leading, not fearful of change and reform, but leading that change and reform because it's such a great culture.

I think the growing power of the Muslim Brotherhood will be the issue with the greatest impact on the future relationship. From the same Q&A:

Well, on the latter question, we actually do not, as a rule, maintain contacts with Hamas. As you know, they're listed as a terrorist organization. And we have not -- we don't have contact with the Muslim brotherhood at this point. It's complicated because, of course, this is a growing force in Egypt, but our view is that the organizations that are really committed to democracy ought to be the ones that are supported by contact with the United States.

So I guess the pulse of all of this, in my opinion is that we plan to do nothing overt or heavy handed. But I think the time is coming when the United States, if it choses to be involved,must take a more active but peaceful roll.

So the answer to the question I guess is no one knows.

But I like and trust Dr. Rice. I think that she is a smart and strong person. That's why I listed her quotes above. I think that they are a good indication of where the US wants to go in it's relationship with Egypt.

However they give no hint for what the US will do if or when this current tactic does not work. It seems the choice will be turn up the pressure or abandon the ideals.

There has been much talk recently about the amount of aid that the US gives to Egypt. That featured heavily in the Peaceful protests for Coptic rights in the US on April 19 & 24. Out of the entire series of events that fact was mentioned a few times in the media.

So I guess that if the US does anything that a reduction in aid might be in the public mindset as an option. Sadly, that is what little public awareness there is over these issues.

The sad part of that is that people suffer without such aid.

At 2:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Great blog and I like the comment of davidnic.
The important question is what will Egyptians do with Egypt? The majority are not participating effectively and as I said before the opposition are either 'salon' elitist or people playing with the religion card, i.e., no grass roots existing. However I am optimistic despite all that.
Egyptian in Germany

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Freedom for Egyptians said...


I am a big fan of Condoleeza and the Bush Admin. My reason is that this is the first and could be the last Admin that will have such a great support for democracy in the Middle East. And supporting democracy means supporting the people not families that rule for life at the expense of the poverty and oppression of people.

However, I am seeing the scene in Egypt is deterioration yet in continuous movement. People are in turmoil as I have seen, however the responses of the regime does not match the aspirations of the majority of the Egyptians.

My friend Egyptian in Germany,

I agree with you the big question "what will the Egyptians do with Egypt" or for Egypt? I can tell you they are trying hard but with the iron grip of the regime together with the struggle to survive everyday in view of tough economic circumstances, I do not know how can one have a balanced goal with clear visiion.

I am still hopeful

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Mowatn Masry said...

I don't belive in what USA administration talks about spreading democracy in all over middle east countries.
this is only just an tool has been used by USA administration in order to push arabic rejimes towards more & more co-operation with Isreal

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Mowatn Masry said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Mowatn Masry said...

Dear Davidnic,

Regarding Bush democracy please review rights watch ) to know more about bush adminstration concept of democracy .

At 4:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mowatn Masry :
O.K. , You don't trust America,BUT,
Do we need Democracy ???
Did I hear You say "Yes" ?
Then why don't we do it regardless?

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Mowatn Masry said...

TO Sam

I didn't say that we don't need democracy
We need it , but we don't need Iraq Bloody democracy !!
we don't need Gwantanamo or Aboghareeb democracy!!

At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mowtn Masry :
O.K. , Forget about Iraq,Guantanamo and Aboghraib .

Can We - Egyptian - have real Democracy in Egypt ?

If Yes , Please tell me How ?

Are We the Egyptians mature enough to take to the streets-in millions-and start a "White Revolution" without blood shed and make Democracy happen ??

How much longer are we prepared to wait ???
Something is seriously wrong somewhere .....

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Mowatn Masry said...

To SAm
In this point I agree with you
just a few egyptians have enough courage to initiate peaceful revolution against Mobark regime
But I think that image not totaly dark this could be initiated by students


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