Obama's half-hearted efforts for Egyptian democracy
|Saturday, October 30,2010 18:43|
Since Obama brought up the need for "a vibrant civil society, open political President Mubarak’s regime has done exactly the opposite of what Obama asked.
According to an article posted in the Washington post the ruling regime has not only rejected supervision of the elections, but has also launched a massive crackdown against opposition movements and the media. Over 260 members from the Muslim Brotherhood have been hauled in by security services, during raids on homes and businesses and abductions in broad daylight. Washington post reports:
“Egypt's parliamentary elections are scheduled for next month, and a broad pro-democracy movement is pressing for reforms, beginning with the regime's acceptance of domestic and international poll monitor”.
The article highlights contrast of the elections during the 2005 elections stressing that:
“Mubarak loosened controls on the media, introduced a constitutional amendment allowing the first contested election for president, and released his principal secular challenger from jail. He did all this under heavy pressure from then-President George W. Bush, who had publicly called on Egypt to "lead the way" in Arab political reform”.
Now to the run up to elections the situation is notably different where a leading opposition journalist, Ibrahim Eissa in what believed to be compliance to government pressure was fired from the editorship of the independent newspaper, Dostour and a television show he hosted was cancelled
The government also imposed restrictive regulations on SMS which was known to be used by opposition as a tool during elections. Furthermore over 20 private television channels have been shut down, and companies that have enabled live broadcasts of street protests have had their permits revoked.
The article highlights that:
“Egypt's backsliding is not Mr. Obama's fault. But Mr. Mubarak's actions reflect a common calculation across the Middle East: that this U.S. president, unlike his predecessor, is not particularly interested in democratic change. Mr. Obama has exhibited passion on the subject of Israel's West Bank settlements; he and his top aides have publicly pressured, and sometimes castigated, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. If the president is similarly troubled by Mr. Mubarak's defiance, he has yet to show it”.
Nevertheless lower-level administration officials have spoken up maintaining that the issues of human rights and democracy are vitally important to the US. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner during a press conference in Cairo had in fact discussed the media and election monitoring issues however Egypt's rulers are accustomed to brushing off State's rebukes.
In all reality if Obama is as serious as he alleges he will have to give Egypt’s issues the same priority and personal attention that he gives to Israel's transgressions.