Food for thought

An interesting tidbit from Dan Williams' article in WaPo on Ayman Nour's arrest and the presidential non-elections:

Even though opposition leaders expect little from President Bush directly, they say his stand against "tyranny" at least provides a small opening for them. [Mohammed Farid] Hassanin conjectured that the presence of a foreign television crew at his sports club speech kept police from breaking up the rally. "At least they know outsiders are interested in Egypt," he said of the government.
Others point out that Bush could take small, symbolic steps. "No one expects Bush to turn off the money to Egypt or break relations," said [Saad Eddin] Ibrahim, referring to the $2 billion in U.S. aid provided annually to Egypt. "But how about not inviting Mubarak to the White House? That would be a start."


Mubarak is scheduled to see Bush in April. I don't think the meeting can be cancelled -- the Israel-Palestine process is resting too much on Egypt for that to happen now. (Just see today's announcement that Mubarak will host a summit with Sharon and Abbas in Sharm Al Sheikh next week.) But it's interesting that Ibrahim is advocating it.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.