I'm too distracted these days between Lebanon and work in Morocco to write about it much, but there are some important things taking place with the upgrade of the bilateral US-Egypt relationship. Condi Rice insisted that the US-Egyptian Strategic Dialogue (for that is it's name) includes discussion of Egypt's domestic situation, but the Egyptian press for the last few days has been quoting Mubarak saying that the US now understands that Egypt will not tolerate intrusion into its internal affairs etc... He literally goes on at lengths about this, and the message to the domestic audience is clear: fuggetaboutit -- it being American pressure on the regime, or even deciding not to support the regime as long as it continues the current repressive trend.
What the temporary pressure from the Bush administration did "inspire" democracy activists to do (although I think the 2005 election period was more important as far as Egypt was concerned) was go to international public opinion for their cause. The result of the reversal of policy is that those who dared stick their necks out will now be served a cold dish of revenge by the regime. What started with Ayman Nour, continued with Kifaya and Muslim Brotherhood activists, the judges and most recently the press is likely to continue until the regime feels it has hammered in the message enough: you are alone. For activists, especially during the coming phase of succession-transition, this will leave two possibilities: getting off the streets and stopping (or greatly reducing) their efforts, or escalating either through campaigns by foreign-based groups (such as those started by by Egyptian-Americans recently), or through political violence.