- January 16, 2008
Thank you Mr President !
President Bush has left the Middle East after eight days , six countries and a occupied territory, that he expects to be on the verge of independence by the end of his term in office. I´m not going to dwell on the whirlwind tour right now, let´s save something for later.
I just want to share the transcript of the official statements from the last leg of the trip, in Sharm al Sheikh the press conference with President´s Mubarak and Bush at the four seasons hotel just hours ago, and the most interesting part was perhaps the fact that President Bush was paying tribute to Egyptian civil society, journalists, bloggers and Judges.
Progress toward greater political openness is being led by the Egyptians themselves, by pioneering journalists — some of whom even may be here — bloggers, or judges insisting on independence, or other strong civic and religious leaders who love their country and are determined to build a democratic future.
Mr President, let me take the opportunity to thank you personally for those kind words.
Those kind words together with the omission of Egypt among countries making progress in the major speech on democracy in the region that Bush gave in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, apart from these short sentences following below, and believed to be meant for Egypt is the strongest language used since the ¨the freedom agenda administration began backtracking on democracy in the land of peace after the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats(20 percent) in parliament elections in the Autumn of 2005.
Unfortunately, amid some steps forward in this region we”ve also seen some setbacks. You cannot build trust when you hold an election where opposition candidates find themselves harassed or in prison. You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government. And you cannot stand up a modern and confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms
The lines above could be read as a critique of the five year prison sentence of Ayman Nour, and perhaps, although not likely for the one year sentence of Tala?t Sadat, both of whom were candidates in the Presidential elections in September 2005. Added to the list is also the current leader of the Wafd, who awaits a 30 day sentence as publisher of the party newspaper. You could also hope that the administration thinks of people like Khairat al Shater,third in rank in the Muslim Brotherhood and the rest of the group with him facing military court, although all of them being civilians in a long trial which has been dragging on for the most part of the year after the case was dismissed twice in civil courts, Or the hundreds that have been arrested from the same organization during the two years since the double election year in 2005.
Two words that was completely absent from today´s statements was human rights,although it was mentioned implicitly by President Bush , who thanked Egypt for their help in the war on terror. That is to say among other things render the U.S a helping hand in providing full board accommodation to V.I.P´s for longer or shorter durations at state of the art facilities.
The front page and leading article in the Independent of London looked like this on the 14th of January after the Abu Dhabi speech.
I will not ask or expect you to do the walk, Mr President, i´ve seen enough of how your administration works to know that short term security and stability always takes precedence over long term strategic thinking as well as to human rights, rule of law and democratization.
But once again, thank you for those kind words Mr President…
The first photo were the two Presidents is pointing out the road ahead towards democracy(Reminds of the photos of Barak(Not Obama) and Arafat at Camp David in the summer of 2000)is taken, with courtesy of EPA.