Condi in Luxor
So now we know, why the city of Luxor has been turned upside down for months, the city which is normally called the largest out-door museum in the world has recently been(and still is) a city of rubble and dust. The train station is literally four walls and nothing else. And all of this because of Condi´s comming to the city! Too bad she didn´t have time to visit Deir al Bahari(Queen Hatchepsut´s temple), Karnak or the walley of the Kings.
So what did she do, she met with President Mubarak and her counterpart Abou al Gheit, they discussed bilateral, and multilateral questions. During the conference with Abou al Gheit(transcript), it became clear that Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Iran´s influence in Iraq and Lebanon was on top of the agenda, other questions discussed were Darfur and Somalia. The only thing that was said about bilateral questions, was that Egypt was a strategic and important alley and that the relationship was solid.
¨Obviously, the relationship with Egypt is an important strategic relationship; one that we value greatly. We've had a chance to talk about a variety of issues. I've had a chance -- we've had a chance to talk about bilateral issues, of course, about the course of internal developments here in Egypt.¨
In addition it was said that Foreign Minister Abou al Gheit, Omar Soliman and other ministers would go to Washington in the near future.
Of course the big buzz of the day was Israel/Palestine, Secretary Rice had announced earlier during the day that she intended to invite PM Olmert and President Abbas for a three-part meeting soon. It was presented erlier during the day as the first talks in six years apart from the latest meeting,and as an opening , It´s true that it was the first meeting for the two of them , but the representatives of Israel and the Palestinian authourity have met at least twice, during the last four years. First in Aqaba in June 2003, when the roadmap(including the 13 changes that the Israeli goverment wanted) was launched, and then in Sharm al Sheikh in February 2005.
The expectations was lowered during the press brefing, it´s going to be informal talks, to get things going whatewer that means.
The question of Mubarak´s new plan, came up during the Q & A session but neither Abou al Gheit nor Rice, choose to answer. It´s pretty obvious that the road map is the only game in town.
The most heated moment came when one journalist asked Egypt´s Foreign Minister:
¨And will Egypt now finally end the smuggling that has been allowing Hamas to build up its military might?¨
Rice also got a tough question, that was more of a statement:
There are two questions, the first for Ms. Rice. In President Bush's new strategy toward Iraq, he asked for the support of the allies -- the natural allies. Egypt is among those countries. And we know that President Mubarak has warned Mr. Bush before the execution of Saddam,
Nothing will come out of this, the real talks could not start before six months into the new administration, that is June 2009. This administration is incapable of bringing anything good to any of the conflicts that are currently on their table.
What would have been done from the minute the Hamas government came to power, was to try and get them on the train. Hamas has shown pragmatism on paper, they are now willing to sign up for a solution witin the 1967 borders. What the world community and any reasonable Israeli government should have done is to test their cards, the difference in position between Hamas and Fatah are not that big on paper, and no solution will stick if Hamas is not on. Instead the international community is enforcing a de facto boycot, to what use? could somebody please explain that to me?
Egypt seem to agree with the US on the broad picture in Iraq, as long as Iraq is united. They also see eye to eye on external influence in the country,one has to ask oneself, does the Americans or the ¨moderate Arabs¨(Saudi, Jordan and Egypt) fear Iran and the ¨shia crescent the most. If this newsreport is correct the ¨shia crescent¨ counter policy will have at least two different theaters to work in. For me, if the report is correct, then we are perhaps looking at a 1958 scenario all over again. It´s really an tailormaide for Lebanon Eisenhower-doctrine, the cold war, ended in 1989 or if you like 1991, but this is really the cold war fear, but against another ism. I never thought it could be worse after the last summer, but i am not sure anymore.
So Rice didn´t mention democracy with one world, is anyone surprised? The administration went to war ¨for democracy¨ and stay´s on to create stability, and will leave because it´s not stable enough, in what would have been the mother of all Arab democracies, pretty heavy birth paigns i would say. Not even the rhetoric sounds anything but hollow, the echo from Ms Rice´s own words from the policy speech at the AUC in June 2005 is long gone. This has been written on the wall since post-elections 2005.
Michele Dunne, editor of the valuable Arab Reform Bulletin wrote an interesting paper,which came last week, it´s called time to pursue democracy in Egypt explaining the details of Egyptian politics, lack of democratization and the comming constitutional ammendments. Zvika Krieger from democracy arsenal has written a comment on the paper here and Michael Slackman qoutes Hafez Abu Saeda from the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights:
¨The government has said to us, ‘Stop, we are closing all the windows and doors we had opened¨
Condoleeza Rice,Condi, Egypt, Abou al Gheit, democracy, Iraq, Peace process, Lebanon, Bush, Arab world