The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Some questions about WEF Sharm Al Sheikh

Why weren't the governments of Syria, Iran and Palestine invited? Abbas of Palestine was invited and came, but not Hamas. Does this mean that the WEF follows State Dept. guidelines? Just asking.

Why do people still take Ahmed Nazif seriously? I've interviewed him several times and even did a long profile of him when he was a very competent minister of Comms and IT, but the statements he has been making since he's become PM are just offensive:

"It doesn't take a month or two or six. It will take years... We have the time. We are not in a hurry," he told reporters before the opening of a World Economic Forum meeting in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

. . .

"Once the process starts, things happen. You see Islamists for example gaining in parliament here, in Palestine, in Iraq, so we start recalculating what's going on," he said.

"You need to recalculate, you need to revisit some of your assumptions, to make sure you are really on the right track but in the end I don't think there is any way to go back on this."

He played down the recent demonstrations in Cairo and other towns as the work of "special interest groups."
Incidentally, does Nazif really mean it when he says he wants to stop the Muslim Brotherhood's elected MPs to form a block in parliament?

Nazif told Reuters in an interview: "Islamists who say they belong to an illegal organisation have been able to go into parliament and act in a format that would make them seem like a political party... We need to think clearly about how to prevent this from happening."

He said the government could not take way the right of individual citizens from running for parliament but members of the Brotherhood were different. "We have a secret organisation represented in parliament. They are not individuals," he said.

The prime minister's remarks were another indication the Egyptian government is having second thoughts about some of the concessions it made to the political opposition last year when it was under U.S. pressure to loosen up the political system.
I was talking to Hisham Kassem, the publisher of Al Masri Al Youm, the other day about how so many of these super-duper "reformist" ministers have had their field of actions greatly narrowed by the presidency, and in some cases have gone from being quite respected figures to yet another set of regime sycophants. He said, "After Mubarak is gone, people will look at them and say, 'he was one of Mubarak's men.'" The time is running out on the present regime, super-duper reformist ministers. You better start thinking about your future careers and how history will remember you.