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Saturday, February 26, 2005

The power of "displeasure" 

Yesterday, the papers reported that Secretary of State Rice was not going to Egypt, as expected. The announcement bagged the Egyptian government, which has been waving its arms around and generally trying to look supportive of the United States in the Middle East:
The decision not to go apparently caught Egypt off-guard. The country's major pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram, reported Friday that Rice would be in Egypt next Saturday.

Cloaked behind the usual diplo-deniability, we see that there was a reason:
A senior U.S. official, citing Rice's displeasure with the arrest and other internal actions taken by the Egyptian government, said change was needed and she wanted to see what steps were taken before going to Cairo. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Today President Mubarak announced a new package of democratic reforms. The Associated Press's Maamoun Youssef:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday ordered a revision of the country's election laws and said multiple candidates could run in the nation's presidential elections, a scenario Mubarak hasn't faced since taking power in 1981.

The surprise announcement, a response to critics' calls for political reform, comes shortly after historic elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, balloting that brought a taste of democracy to the region. It also comes amid a sharp dispute with the United States over Egypt's arrest of one of the strongest proponents of multi-candidate elections.

"The election of a president will be through direct, secret balloting, giving the chance for political parties to run for the presidential elections and providing guarantees that allow more than one candidate for the people to choose among them with their own will," Mubarak said in an address broadcast live on Egyptian television.

Even the activists, grudging as they are, see cause and effect. From the A.P.'s Nadia Abou El-Magd:
Hafez Abu Saada, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, praised Mubarak's ``unexpected step,'' which he said reflected local, regional and international pressure. [Pressure from whom? - eds.]

``It is an important step that gives the Egyptian society a strong push for more freedom and democracy,'' he said.

Activist Aida Seif el-Dawla was tentative in her praise.

``This concession is made to the United States of America. It is better for him (Mubarak) if this decision came as a result of the national dialogue with the opposition parties and in response to the protests against the law,'' she said. ``Let us wait and see, because a free campaign of more than one candidate requires more than a statement from the president.''

Of course it would have been better if Mubarak allowed democratic elections "as a result of [a] national dialogue..." But he didn't, did he?

Talking democratic reforms and walking them are different matters entirely, but it is astonishing and wonderful that Hosni Mubarak thinks that he even has to talk them. Now the world has to work hard to see that Egypt actually delivers reasonably honest elections.

The Big Pharoah should update his dream. David Brooks needs to update this morning's op-ed column already.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers.

UPDATE: Cassandra says that it's all about the boots.... Indeed.

UPDATE: And then, of course, there's the Scrappleface version.

FINAL UPDATE: I published a new post this morning with links to articles on democratic reform in Egypt going back to last summer.

21 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 26, 09:12:00 AM:

"It would have been better" is the flaccid language of those "blank slaters" who still maintain, against all evidence, that there's no such thing as human nature.. The only way to achieve peace, as Ronnie said, is through strength. Or, as Teddy put it more colorfully, speak softly and carry a big stick. GW is sticking it to 'em big time.

Sissy
http://sisu.typepad.com  

By Blogger Jehane, at Sat Feb 26, 09:30:00 AM:

If you ask me, it was the boots that did it...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 26, 09:46:00 AM:

Looks the American combination of idealism (bring democracy to the mideast) and pragmatism (invade countries and bag terrorists) is working. Of course, you'll never see anyone on the left or in the "international community" acknowledge that it was US action that did this. So much for French "sophistication" vis-a-vis the Arab world.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Feb 26, 09:59:00 AM:

Cass -

The boots! Absolutely. Damn, I wish I had thought of that.  

By Blogger Jehane, at Sat Feb 26, 10:29:00 AM:

Cherie, I am ashamed...

Here I was inferring all sorts of subliminal, knuckle-dragging neandrathal motivation to your post, and your mind was firmly positioned well out of the gutter.

How rude of me to drag you down with me... :)  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Feb 26, 10:53:00 AM:

Usually I drag my knuckles with the best of them -- I guess I'm a bit slow this morning!  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Feb 26, 10:53:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Feb 26, 10:54:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

By Blogger Mr. Snitch, at Sat Feb 26, 11:13:00 AM:

If spikey boots are going to bring democratic reforms in Egypt, then by God we just need more women in politics. And in spikey boots.  

By Blogger Jehane, at Sat Feb 26, 11:38:00 AM:

Usually I drag my knuckles with the best of them...Hence my profound surprise. Does this mean we have not embarked on a life of stern asceticism?

How refreshing - for a moment I was afraid your trip my fair city had ruined you.  

By Anonymous Mark, at Sat Feb 26, 02:12:00 PM:

It's gotta be the shoes....  

By Blogger Sluggo, at Sat Feb 26, 02:23:00 PM:

It would be interesting to hear what soundtrack people would like to put to this spectacular entrance. Something from Gypsy or Sousa? I hear The Washington Post March with a little waa-waa.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 26, 02:51:00 PM:

I would like to point out that James Lileks called it.  

By Blogger Mick Wright, at Sat Feb 26, 03:31:00 PM:

Good work. Hey, do you have an answer to this?  

By Blogger Chris, at Sat Feb 26, 06:04:00 PM:

The Neo cassock, the stilletto heels. She needs the glasses for the whole Agent Smith look for Monday's London Conference. Give her a whip and I'll give you a cowering Chirac.

They all just want to be Condi's bitches....Be Seeing You,

Chris  

By Anonymous Kathy K, at Sat Feb 26, 07:24:00 PM:

Not a whip, Chris, just a nice, subtle, riding crop. One that can be slapped against a boot when she gets impatient with excuses...  

By Blogger Mister Ghost, at Sun Feb 27, 05:57:00 AM:

These Boots are made for Democracy. . .

Super Boots Power away. . .

The Revolution of the Boots. . .

The Boots are back and you're going to be in trouble. . .

Speak softly but walk around in
a pair of Power Boots. . .

Be one with the Boots. . .

The Boots made me do it. . .

Beware the Ides of Boots. . .  

By Anonymous Steve Bragg, at Sun Feb 27, 08:06:00 PM:

Wow, congrats on another Instalanche! You're a big dog now, Jack!

Steve
DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS  

By Blogger jon, at Sun Oct 02, 01:14:00 AM:

I am looking everywhere for bakers shoes and bakers shoes, while doing so I somehow stumbled onto your bakers shoes blog. I am happy to say I learned something and will look into this further...

Thanks for the great posts...

jon  

By Blogger Steve Austin, at Sun Oct 02, 09:40:00 AM:

I like yuor blog. Please check out my chihuahua dog blog.  

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