Thursday, July 07, 2005

Egypt retreats 

This is not helpful, and Hosni Mubarak knows it:
Egypt will temporarily shut its diplomatic mission in Iraq and has recalled its staff to Cairo, an official said Thursday, after a militant group claimed to have killed Egypt's top envoy in Baghdad.

The announcement came hours after President Hosni Mubarak condemned the killing of the country's top envoy to Baghdad at the hands of Islamic militants.

Egypt also asked the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to urgently address the issue of protecting diplomats in Iraq following the killing of Ihab al-Sherif.

Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said he met with Greece's U.N. Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, the current council president, to request that the council try to find "ways and means to improve the life and protection of diplomatic missions ... in Iraq."

By giving them what they want, Mubarak is rewarding al Qaeda with a victory, and using the killing of his diplomat to elevate the prestige of the United Nations at the expense of the United States. In all likelihood, this is payback for Condoleezza Rice's speech in Cairo last month, in which she pressured Egypt (and other Arab autocracies) to enact democratic reforms. If Mubarak wants to blunt the edge of American diplomatic pressure, he needs to show his relevance in a hurry. Surrendering to al Qaeda even more quickly than Spain and pleading to the United Nations for security assistance that, by snarky implication, the United States cannot provide is biting off his nose to spite his face, but it may nonetheless brush us back. Let's hope that Bush and Rice respond to this provocation by dialing up the heat for reform, rather than backing it down.


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