Monday, February 28, 2005
I still cannot comprehend what compelled president Mubarak to take this step. Yesterday the Egyptian media went on a crusade to inflate the president and comment on how history will remember him as the first president who introduced a new way of electing the country’s president. Even though Mubarak’s decision was a huge surprise, I think many outside factors forced his hand.
Before this decision was announced, Mubarak and his party ruled out the fact that the constitution can be amended to allow more than one candidate to run for office. His party, the National Democratic Party, summoned nearly all legal opposition parties and they reached a decision to postpone the opposition’s demand for this amendment. Mubarak also arrested the liberal Ayman Nour 2 days after the former met with Madeline Albright in Cairo. Albright was on a fact finding mission on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations. So what forced Mubarak?
Mubarak is a very smart politician who knows where the wind is blowing. He is not stupid like the dictator of Damascus and Beirut. Mubarak knows very well that Bush has a very stubborn head and he is bloody serious about reform in the Middle East. Condi Rice’s decision to cancel a trip to Egypt was another indication that the US will not play by pre-911 rules.
He is also very sensitive to foreign media. Whenever the Washington Post or the New York Times writes an editorial that is critical of the Egyptian government, state employed journalists start to babble about how the “Jewish Zionist lobby forced the Zionist owned New York Times to publish an anti-Egypt editorial”! After the arrest of Ayman Nour, the western media aimed at Egypt and this made him uncomfortable. We’ll still have to wait and see if Nour will be released. In addition, the western media and Arab satellite channels have focused on the small demonstrations that demanded a constitution amendment. Even though I would never want the type of people who went to the rally to rule my country, the media attention they got elevated their demand in front of the world.