Leadership Council for Human Rights

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bush’s Egypt visit clouded by failed democratic push

President Bush’s push for greater democracy in the Middle East is today viewed by many as a failed effort. Egypt, a stop on Bush’s Mideast tour Wednesday, was once seen as a test case but is now mired in stalled reforms and resentment over the jailing of hundreds of dissidents, The Associated Press reported today.

“Activists say the U.S. democracy push has taken a back seat to politics,” the article says. “They blame Washington for easing its pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to win his support on key regional issues such as Iraq and the Israeli-Arab peace process.”

In President Bush’s speech on democracy Sunday he did not mention Egypt “expect for what was widely seen as an implicit criticism of the country’s crackdown on political opponents,” the article states.

It notes later that: “Ayman Nour, a top opposition leader who ran against Mubarak in 2005, was sentenced to five years in prison on forgery charges that his supporters say were trumped up.”

“What is the benefit of talking (about democracy) any more, it is futile,” said Gameela Ismail, Nour’s wife.

U.S. criticism has been tepid or silent. While U.S. officials insist they have kept up the pressure privately, reformists question Washington;s sincerity on democracy.

The response from Washington is that pressure has been applied privately, however, the article says that “reformists question Washington’s sincerity on democracy.”

It adds: “Over the past year, several secular newspaper editors have been tried, some sentenced to prison, for anti-Mubarak writings. Egypt’s most outspoken government critic, Egyptian-American Saad Eddin Ibrahim, has gone to the United States for fear of arrest in Egypt, where he faces trial on accusations of harming national interests.”

For the full article, click here.

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