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May 22, 2006

The Wisdom of the Egyptians: US & Egypt

While many 'Aqoul readers likely are aware that Egypt is passing through some rather severe political tensions at present, as disgust with the vampiric Mubarek regime seems to be bubbling up like a half-suppressed urge to vomit, I thought I would depart from my normal Egypt aversion and comment on The Financial Times's piece on PM Ahmed Nazif's Wisdom, Egypt ‘not under US pressure’ over political freedom (reporting by Mr Wallis paired with the esteemed Roula Khalaf who hopefully can impart some street smarts to the man so my precious FT space for MENA is not taken up with announcements that Egypt supports "Arab Unity").

Regardless of the precious wisdom Egypt ‘not under US pressure’ over political freedom, it is always comforting to know that Egypt’s prime minister is confident that the Great Fat Shrimp Eater is under no real pressure, and that the Americans are as unwavering in their benighted and own-goalish support of the Mubarek Vampire Clan, like Argentine Bond Holders clammering for another chance to roll-over the debt..... (I would like to take this occasion to confess a sin. A grave sin. Only two years ago, I opined in all seriousness that I thought Gamel was not such a bad sort and might not make a bad leader, if he rose to office in a normal - i.e. not as Kinglet - fashion. I confess this as proof that I am human and even in those areas where I consider myself expert, such as judging MENA character, error can enter. My only excuse is it was Egypt. And that's a poor one). Regardless, the Wise Ahmed Nazif indicated today that he

had been reassured by the US that American financial aid would not be affected by the latest spat over political freedom, insisting that Cairo and Washington “see eye to eye” on the importance of their relationship.

Well.

Well.

Well.

How very unsurprising.

Tediously unsurprising really.

Given the tizzy the US is in over Islamic threat, the barely concealed Islamophobia that is rising up in the gorge of the Western publics, I should think the recent little visit by Gamel and general Egyptian - that is Mubarek Vampire Clan Cronies - drum beating over the threat of the Ikhouan on the Canal.....

And that quaint little concept of pushing for democratisation (really pushing) goes right into the Suez. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.

Now, mind you, I am no fan of the idiotic whanking about waves of democratisation or even democratisation en grosso modo in the region. I am a fan of economic liberalisation.

However, having lived and laboured in Egypt, and having gained a first hand appreciation for the macabre horror that is the Egyptian system - forever for me summed up by the grotesque mockery of a department store that is Omar Efendi, the state purveyor of shoddy goods and cutting edge Sadaat fashion - I am almost desperate to see the West wash its hands of the neo-Mamlouks. Cut a deal with the Ikhouan re the Suez and let Mubarek be strung up.

You'd come out ahead in the end.

However, this is mere fantasy. I know well that the scenario will play out rather like Iran, that in the name of "stability" the Americans especially (but also EU) will cling onto the loathsome bloodsucking creature that is the Mubarek regime until it finally explodes. My and protestations like mine will go unheeded.

Well, regardless, FT tells us:

Speaking to the FT after a meeting with Robert Zoellick, deputy US secretary of state, Ahmed Nazif said Cairo did not feel under pressure from Washington for more rapid political change, despite critical statements issued by Bush administration officials over the past week. Egypt’s relations with the US could not be based on conditionality, he added. The Prime minister also met members of the US Congress on Sunday.

Yes, yes.

All they needed to do, the morally bankrupt incompetent vampires, was wave the scarecrow of Islamic militants in front of the American diplos and representatives alike....

Why one knows the evil Islamists would have Jews wear yellow stars like the Nazis.....

I did enjoy our Wise Man calling the wave of arrests and repression “micromanagement” issues , mere detials after all, and his brazen insistance that reform is alive. Ah and beating the "secular opposition" drum. The weak, meaningless, anchorless secular opposition.

“People are impatient. Everybody wants things to happen overnight. But this is a whole society. We have to move very carefully. It has to go through a process,” he said.

Hey, it's Egypt.

Overnight of course meaning within their lifetimes.

Has to go through a process....

The brazenness of it all really does impress me, as well as rather suggest that they've had very productive chats with the Americans. The Islamist scarecrows were without doubt extremely useful (for the sarcasm impaired let me note I do in fact take the Islamists and the Ikhaoune quite seriously).

Mr Nazif played down reports on Saturday suggesting that the government was considering banning members of the Muslim Brotherhood - Egypt’s illegal but largest opposition force - from running as independents in future elections. He also retracted earlier comments to reporters that the government was in no hurry to move on political reforms.

Before his meeting with Mr Nazif, Mr Zoellick told reporters that the actions taken by the Egyptian government to repress peaceful protests were “not only wrong - but mistakes”. He insisted, however, that Washington would not use its nearly $2bn in yearly aid to pressure the regime of President Hosni Mubarak to change its ways.

Ah.

Wonderous.

Well, let me suggest, if you are an Arab liberal, you should understand the language rather clearly.

You're expendable.

Ah yes, and this:

Mr Zoellick also maintained that the US democratisation strategy was still working, saying the old Middle East order was “breaking down” but that, as in Eastern Europe, change would not become apparent until later.

Statements like this are really more worthy of something coming out of a Soviet Ambassador in Prague in 68.

Triumph of the Revolution and all that.

I am at a loss as to how the US Right managed to convert itself into something with the critical thining and rhetorical skills of the Bolsheviks.

However, the regression in political freedom in Egypt, the most populous Arab country, is seen in the region as the latest setback for the US strategy of spreading democracy and follows a strong electoral showing by the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections late last year.

The Brotherhood’s gains, coupled with the election victory of Hamas in the January Palestinian elections, have been used by Arab officials to justify putting the brakes on political reforms, leaving the US facing a difficult choice.

Mr Zoellick said Washington did not treat all forms of political Islam in the same way, making a distinction between militant groups and others that were reformist.

Asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, he said it was “important” for the group to make clear whether it was seeking change through democratic, non-violent process. Brotherhood officials, however, say they have long made clear their commitments to pluralism and have repeatedly renounced violence.

Mr Nazif, meanwhile, said that President George W. Bush had described the Brotherhood in a meeting last year in Washington as a “terrorist organisation”, although the group is not on any US list of terrorist groups.

Well.

I believe the Wise Man has given a hint.

Oh and in relationship to my own sins:

Mr Zoellick denied that the US was promoting Gamal Mubarak, the president’s son and a rising star in the ruling National Democratic Party. The young Mubarak held meetings at the White House last week in what appeared to be an attempt to soften the American reaction to the more vigorous security crackdown now under way.

Mr Zoellick described Gamal Mubarak as a “significant party leader” who was helpful in explaining to US officials domestic efforts to overhaul the NDP.

For those who took me to task a couple years back for being relatively positive about Gamel, I apologise for harsh words, and state: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Significant party leader, helpful in explaining....

I feel like I have a headache.

Well, at least American taxpayers can rest easy in the knowledge that at least with the USD 2 billions they piss away in Egypt, very little of it gets blown up, unlike in Iraq. I would feel moderately better it at least ends up in bank accounts and the like, rather than being utterly wasted and pissed away into the sands.

Posted by The Lounsbury at May 22, 2006 01:41 AM
Filed Under: Egypt , Politics - Local , Politics - US FP

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Comments

Hi, I wanted so much to comment on this post because you overcame your dislike of Egypt to do such a good rundown of the current situation, but I didn't really have anything content wise to add to what you said, just thanks for this.

Posted by: Anna_in_Cairo [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 06:47 AM

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