Thursday, March 13, 2008

White House Flip-Flops on Egypt

Yesterday, the White House issued a statement on the current wave of arrests during the registration for the upcoming local elections were 52600 seats on 4500 local councils are up for grabs.

The local council elections has for long been overlooked by the opposition , due to to the lack of influence the councils have, it´s also seen as too costly for most opposition parties. Many parties don´t have a well organized party structure outside of the big cities. For the independent canddates , all this changed in 2005 when law 76 of the constitution regulating Presidential elections made the glory of independent Presidential wannabees dependent on support from 250 members of two chambers of parliament and the local councils combined.This was strengthened further in 2007, making it extremely tough to compete as an independent candidate, using the pretext to help build strong parties.

The last day of registration for candidates wishing to participate in the local elections, postponed since 2006 and now scheduled for April 8th, is today. During the 10 day registration period arrests have been made on a daily basis in practically every Governate in the country of people presumed as potential candidates in the elections , or as key to election organization for the group. This on top of arrests made in February brings the total number of arrests at about 700 according to there own estimates. All of the arrested belongs to one group. The group had thought to contest every local council with up to 7000 members supposed to participate, but so far only 60 people have managed to register.

This is what White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino had to say about it yesterday:

"We are concerned by a continuing campaign of arrests in Egypt of individuals who are opponents of the current governing party and are involved in the upcoming local elections," she said. "The people of Egypt should be permitted to choose freely among competing candidates. We call on the government of Egypt to cease any actions that would compromise the ability of the Egyptian people to fully exercise their internationally recognized human rights and to participate in a free and fair election."

This is all good, if not for the fact that the Secretary of State was in Egypt on the first day of the registration period, a day pretty much the same as every day during the last 10 days. That particular day saw up to 95 arrests, including people being arrested while walking to the registration office.

And how did the Secretary of State react to this? Did she perhaps talk on this matter with his Excellency Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, or discuss it during their chaired press conference? No.

This is what she did!

She waived the 100 million Dollars in military aid that the U.S Congress withheld, due to lack of progress on among other things keeping the Gaza border secure and human rights.

This is the motive for the decision in her own words:

"I have exercised on behalf of the United States the waiver in terms of Egyptian assistance ... The Bush administration sought to have that flexibility. We believe that this relationship with Egypt is an important one and that the waiver was the right thing to do,"

Of course this was done for the benefit of getting Egypt to ¨work harder¨ on ensuring the safety on the border. Probably in ways that resembles the poetic words of the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak:

¨And while Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak denied on Israeli public radio that there was "at this stage the least accord on a ceasefire" he spelled out the country's conditions for a formal truce: "The firing of rockets and other terrorist attacks must end and smuggling of arms from Egypt must be reduced in a draconian fashion."¨

And by the way Ms Perino, the group of individuals that you talked about are all part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As an extra treat with the compliments from State Department, i throw in the chapter on Egypt from their Human Rights Report, fresh off the presses, published just two days ago.

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