A better indicator of the president's views on political reform is last week's arrest of about 100 demonstrators from the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The detentions, coming a day after 84 Brotherhood members were picked up by police across the country, is a reminder of Mubarak's long-standing strategy of scare politics. Islamic militants, he has warned in both words and deeds, are always ready to take over power.
Every six months to a year, he makes a move sure to focus world attention on the Brotherhood's presence in Egypt. It plays into his strategy of "either me or the Islamists." In the battle between autocrats and theocrats, Mubarak has shown, time and again, there's no room for democrats.
Ibrahim is currently in the US, as a visiting fellow to the Woodrow Wilson International Center, apparently writing his memoirs. Even though he may not be popular figure in Egypt (largely because of the defamation campaign against him when he was being tried) I think his efforts do help keep international, and more importantly American, awareness about Egypt up. I do wonder, though, whether he's going to get slammed locally for writing in a Jewish publication. It may be unfair -- The Forward has a decent record of progressive stances on the Palestinian cause and other issues -- but then again so are many things in life and politics.