May 16, 2006

Gamal Mubarak Meets "Secretly" with Officials in Washington

Last week, the Egyptian authorities conducted large numbers of arrests at various demonstrations in and around Cairo related to the judges' case and the temporary laws. The Egyptian "security" police arrested members of the Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of Kifaya, and others who were peacefully speaking out against the intimidation which two judges have been facing since they spoke out against the last parliamentary elections in Egypt. One of our fellow bloggers, Alaa, was also arrested which sparked wide spread condemnation throughout the Arab blogosphere.

The Bush administration mustered up a weak statement expressing "concern" with the Egyptian government's actions that stifle freedom of speech and expression. They followed that with a disclaimer that they were in no position to delve into the domestic issues of a country like Egypt, failing to mention that their $2 billion support for the government encourages such abuses.

Yesterday's episode of "From Washington" on Aljazeera with host Hafez Almirazi broke the story that a secret meeting had occurred between Egyptian and American officials. Aljazeera's White House correspondent had been there for a briefing when she spotted an Egyptian delegation (ambassador Nabil Fahmy and VP Gamal Mubarak) passing through to the Old Executive Building which houses the offices of VP Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

The reporter said that her calls to the Egyptian embassy resulted in top officials telling her that they had no knowledge of the visit. Later, the White House acknowledged that Gamal Mubarak and Fahmy were present for a meeting with Cheney and Hadley. President Bush also stopped by to say hello to Gamal, and Condi Rice also attended part of the meeting.

The visit is important because it was unannounced and wasn't meant to be public, and more importantly because it followed recent tensions in Egypt regarding the protests and arrests. Gamal Mubarak apparently came to reassure US officials that "democracy reforms" in Egypt were still being given top priority as the US had wanted, and that these "minor incidents" are not representative of the "progress" which Egypt is undergoing. This is what the WP had to say about the meeting:
Gamal Mubarak, 42, a powerful political player and widely considered a possible heir to his father, Hosni Mubarak, told the U.S. officials that Egypt is committed to further democracy but said it would be a long-term process that will include setbacks. "There was no tension at all," Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmi said in an interview. "They listened to his explanation of what was happening." But U.S. officials have publicly called themselves "deeply concerned" about Egypt's recent actions and they used the opportunity to press upon Gamal Mubarak their views of what needs to be done to further genuine reform in Egypt, said a Bush administration official who was not authorized to discuss the meeting on the record. The administration has been impressed by Egypt's moves to restructure its economy but disappointed at the government's failure to open its political system more.
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy tried to sugarcoat the recent violence and give the impression that these were isolated incidents of protestors "breaking the law":
Fahmi called the clash an unfortunate upshot of a more democratic Egypt in which people previously silent now are expressing their views. "I just see this as a normal consequence of the opening-up process," he said. "Would it have been better if no one had gotten arrested during protests? Sure. . . . Hopefully, in time, people will demonstrate without violating the law, and demonstrations will occur without people getting arrested."
Oh thank god we have Fahmi and Gamal to tell us the truth; we thought something really serious was going on! Of course, the Egyptian police wouldn't have done anything wrong unless the protestors went overboard by breaking the law. These respectable individuals would never violate the law by beating, sexually harassing, and/or imprisoning innocent Egyptians! God forbid! Now that Gamal cleared everything up, we can continue to pump the millions into the coffers of his Papa!!!

related: TIME's Stomping on Democracy in Egypt

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4 Comments:

At 6:12 PM, Anonymous tommy said...

They need to cut off foreign aid to Egypt. Period. I'm tired of this namby-pamby approach by the Bush administration with Mooboo and Friends.

Once we see some improvement, we can restore aid but it should be tied to measurable progress in human, civil, and religious rights in Egypt.

Until then, give it to Darfur. They need it more.

 
At 1:57 AM, Blogger Akram said...

Our government should cut off aid to Egypt, but, to be fair, we should do the same with Israel. One is a police state, the other an occupying state. In being oppressive regimes, both have allowed fringe radical groups to become bigger political players (whether that's good or not is another topic). Both states are in violation of international laws and human rights issues. Instead of pumping money and guns into the region, we need to export values such as civil, human, and women's rights, and bring about real economic reform. Just a thought.

 
At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Alb Sayed said...

I'm curious if your labeling of Gamal as "VP" was conscious or not. I think it's very much true, but I am curious if it was intentionally done, or just one of those facts that slipped from the back of your mind.

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger moi said...

Tommy -- I partially agree, but I don't see why we just can't hold countries accountable for their actions if we are providing so much aid to them. This should apply across the board.

Akram -- I completely agree on the Israel issue. I believe most of the aid going to Egypt today is related to military and security spending, which serves the US's interests of regional "stability" rather than democracy promotion. Thanks for your input.

alb sayed -- you really got me thinking there! Well, I'm pretty sure that I know there is no VP in Egypt as my professor continuously drilled that in my head. However, I think that most people assume he is the heir to the "throne", so to speak. He currently holds the 3rd most powerful position in the NDP, and is considered highly influential in terms of policy issues.

But back to your question, to be completely honest, I think it just slipped out, I wonder why though ;)
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