Day By Day

Monday, February 21, 2005

Road Bump?

The drive for democracy in the Middle East just hit a major snag. AP reports that Egypt has postponed indefinitely the upcoming conference of G-8 and Arab ministers to promote democracy. The cancellation of the conference is generally interpreted to be an attempt on the part of Egypt to signal to the Bush administration that it will not be pressured on the issues of democracy and human rights; it does not signal a serious rupture.

Rights activists are optimistic:
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a prominent Egyptian human rights activist, said the sharp tone from the United States was a sign it will not back down. "It's a moment of truth and confrontation ... and a message to Egypt, Syria and other tyrannical regimes that the United States takes the issue of freedom and democracy seriously."

I certainly hope that's the case, but reaction from both the Egyptian government and from the opposition has been negative.
Even many opposition newspapers have reflected the government stance that Washington is meddling in its internal affairs. "American Impudence" read the headline of the weekly El-Osboa Sunday. The leftist opposition weekly Al-Arabi said in a headline: "Condoleezza Rice crushed the dignity of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry," Egyptian political analyst Abdel Moneim Said, head of Cairo's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a nonofficial think tank said: "Reform will be much easier if the Americans shut their mouth."

Well, nobody [except a few excitable pundits, you know who you are] said it was going to be easy.

Read the whole thing here.

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