The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Calling Mubarak

Yes, its true. Yesterday, while protesters dressed in black, Bush called Mubarak to talk about democracy and free elections.

According to a Reuters report,
"I urged him [Mubarak] once again to have as free and fair elections as possible because it will be a great legacy for his country," Bush told reporters during a session with visiting South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Bush and Mubarak spoke by telephone for about 10 minutes and among the topics they covered was the start of the presidential election campaign in Egypt, and last week's referendum there and incidents of violence.
Bush said Mubarak assured him that he wants to have free and fair elections. "I will to the best of my ability continue to try to convince him that it's not only in Egypt's interest, but the world's interests, to see Egypt have free and fair elections," Bush said.

And a little further down the article:

Mubarak's "publicly stated he is for free and fair elections, and now is the time for him to show the world that his great country can set an example for others," Bush said.
He laid out what he called some reasonable standards for free and fair elections.
"People ought to be allowed to vote without being intimidated, people ought to be allowed to be on TV, and if the government owns the TV, they need to allow the opposition on TV, people ought to be allowed to carry signs and express their pleasure or displeasure. People ought to have very vote count," he said.


Call me a cynic, but it is going to take a little more than "about a 10-minute" conversation for "democratic" and non-violent presidential and parliamentary elections in the fall.

Besides, seeing that the amendment has been changed, the point is mute. The legal mechanism now heavily favors the Egyptian government rather than benefiting those looking to participate.

Bush is a little to late on the scene with his democratizing agenda.

To me, Bush's call yesterday is like waiting to contact the fire brigades after the house has burnt to the ground.

But then, again, what do I know...