by Michel Chossudovsky
The cooptation of the leaders of major opposition parties and civil society organizations in anticipation of the collapse of an authoritarian puppet government is part of Washington’s design, applied in different regions of the World.
The process of cooptation is implemented and financed by US based foundations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Freedom House (FH). Both FH and the NED have links to the US Congress. the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the US business establishment. Both the NED and FH are known to have ties to the CIA.
The NED is actively involved in Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria. Freedom House supports several civil society organizations in Egypt.
“The NED was established by the Reagan administration after the CIA’s role in covertly funding efforts to overthrow foreign governments was brought to light, leading to the discrediting of the parties, movements, journals, books, newspapers and individuals that received CIA funding. … As a bipartisan endowment, with participation from the two major parties, as well as the AFL-CIO and US Chamber of Commerce, the NED took over the financing of foreign overthrow movements, but overtly and under the rubric of “democracy promotion.” (Stephen Gowans, January « 2011 “What’s left“)
While the US has supported the Mubarak government for the last thirty years, US foundations with ties to the US State department and the Pentagon have actively supported the political opposition including the civil society movement. According to Freedom House: “Egyptian civil society is both vibrant and constrained. There are hundreds of non-governmental organizations devoted to expanding civil and political rights in the country, operating in a highly regulated environment.”
In a bitter irony, Washington supports the Mubarak dictatorship, including its atrocities, while also backing and financing its detractors, through the activities of FH, the NED, among others. Read more…
Freedom House publishes an annual report assessing the degree of perceived democratic freedoms in each country.
Freedom House is supposedly an international non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Washington, D.C. which conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights, but it is accused by a lot of analysts and activists to be a front for the American Council on Foreign Relations and its British counterpart the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Noam Chomsky has criticized Freedom House for receiving funding from and allegedly furthering the interests of the U.S. government.
In it’s annual report, titled “Freedom in the World”, Freedom House claims to evaluate the state of global freedom. The report is published with illustrated maps, titled the “Freedom Maps”.
Here are the maps of the last 3 years alongside their charts:
As you can see from the maps above and charts below, according to “Freedom House” most of the Middle East countries are labeled as NOT FREE, while three countries only (Morocco, Lebanon and Kuwait) are labeled as PARTLY FREE, and ONE Country only is FREE, and that’s ISRAEL! Read more…
EGYPT´S FY 2009 ESF: PROPOSED BUDGET FOR D&G
Ref ID: 07CAIRO3423
Date: 2007-12-06 15:07
Origin: Embassy Cairo
DE RUEHEG #3423/01 3401507
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 061507Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7663
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 003423
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2017
TAGS: EAID PGOV EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT´S FY 2009 ESF: PROPOSED BUDGET FOR D&G
REF: A) CAIRO 3343 B) CAIRO 3420
Classified by Ambassador Francis Ricciardone for reason 1.4 (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION: After a great deal of deliberation, in which Embassy Cairo participated fully, the inter-agency agreed to allot $66.5m for democracy and governance programs in Egypt for FY08 and $75m for FY09. These figures represent annual totals of our support for civil society — both US and Egyptian NGO´s — and also for programs carried out with the Government of Egypt in the areas of administration of justice, media reform and decentralization. We believe that the likely negative Egyptian response to this level of funding, and the inability of US and Egyptian NGO´s to spend at this level with intended results and required accountability, argue for reducing the FY09 D&G figure to $50m. If conditions change, or our projections prove too conservative, we could consider adding funds from other Egypt ESF sources. END SUMMARY. Read more…
This is an interview conducted with Gilbert Achcar on Wednesday, August 24, in regards to news of the Libyan rebels entering Tripoli. The interview addresses the events surrounding this development, highlighting the dynamics of the NATO intervention and discussing the identities and interests that make up the rebel forces. Transcripts of the interview follow the below video.
Libyan rebels have consolidated their grip on the capital of Tripoli by capturing Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s main compound, but the whereabouts of the Libyan leader remain unknown, and he has vowed his forces would resist “the aggression with all strength” until either victory or death. Reporters in Tripoli say heavy gunfire could still be heard nearby the area of the Rixos Hotel, where dozens of international journalists guarded by heavily armed Gaddafi loyalists are unable to leave. The Arab League said on Tuesday it will meet this week to consider giving Libyan rebels the country’s seat at the League, after it was taken away a few months ago from the Gaddafi government. Today Britain’s National Security Council is meeting to discuss unfreezing Libyan assets to financially assist the National Transitional Council. We speak with Gilbert Achcar, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “Who are the rebels? Well, this is actually the $1 billion question,” says Achcar. “Even in NATO circles, you find the same questions.”
Gilbert Achcar, professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He is author of several books, most recently,The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. He has published a long essay, “NATO’s ‘Conspiracy’ Against the Libyan Revolution,” on Jadaliyya.com.
Source: Democracy Now
According to the 2009 Annual Report, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) gave direct grants to the following Organizations:
American Center for International Labor Solidarity
To support freedom of association in Egypt through partnerships with four Labor Support Organizations (LSOs) to increase their capacity to advocate for and defend worker rights, strengthen respect for the rule of law, and build bridges between Egyptian workers and other labor movements. The Solidarity Center will support trainings for lawyers, an interactive website for journalists, a campaign for a new labor law, a strategic campaigning workshop, and roundtables with labor leaders from four countries.
Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies (AITAS)
To strengthen youth understanding of the Egyptian parliament and enhance regional activists’ use of new technologies as accountability tools. AITAS will conduct a series of workshops for 300 university students to raise their awareness of parliament’s functions and engage them in monitoring parliamentary committees. AITAS will also host 8 month-long internships for youth activists from the Middle East and North Africa to share its experiences using web-based technologies in monitoring efforts.
Arab Foundation for Supporting Civil Society (AFSCS)
To promote the independence of civil society institutions and raise public awareness of their importance and the challenges they face through cooperation and support from the media. AFSCS will conduct four training workshops for a total of 100 journalists and representatives of civil society institutions on monitoring violations against civil society organizations, and extend its outreach on these efforts through a web site and newsletter focused on civil society issues.
Arab Society for Human Rights (ASHR)
To promote legal awareness among journalists about freedom of expression under Egyptian laws and encourage greater and better informed media coverage of human rights issues. ASHR will conduct a series of six three-day training workshops in Alexandria on media law and the rights of media professionals for 80 journalists from the governorates of Giza, Port Said, Sohag, Ismailiya, Al-Sharkiya, Kafr Al Shaykh, and Marsa Matrouh.
Association for Women’s Total Advancement and Development (AWTAD)
To strengthen a business association that links civic engagement to the private sector and targets young professionals. AWTAD will conduct two leadership development courses for Cairo-based young professionals to expand its membership base and offer ongoing professional development workshops to strengthen member involvement. For each course, AWTAD will lead an eight-week, one-on-one mentoring program for 25 mentees and established private sector professionals.
Association of the Egyptian Female Lawyers (AEFL)
To strengthen women’s leadership and participation in the decision-making process within bar associations in the governorates of Giza, Beni Suef, Minya, and Qena. AEFL will train a cadre of women lawyers within local bar associations who will subsequently train an additional 100 female lawyers in each target governorate. Trainees will form a network to provide continued support to women lawyers seeking leadership positions within the bar association.
Bridge Center for Dialogue and Development (BTRD)
To promote youth expression and engagement in community issues through new media. BTRD will train youth between the ages of 16 and 26 in the use of new and traditional media tools to report on issues facing their communities. BRTD will also create a website for human rights videos and new media campaigns in Egypt. The website will host trainees’ completed projects and provide a blog-like forum for them to engage in an ongoing dialogue on their projects.
Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory (BAHRO)
To promote accountability and transparency, increase public awareness of the national budget, and engage civil society organizations in public budget monitoring and advocacy efforts. BAHRO will analyze and provide a mid-term evaluation of the projected national budget and fund allocations for Egypt’s five-year development plan (2008 -2012) versus actual expenditures and implementation of development initiatives.
Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA)
To promote and engage youth in democratic dialogue and strengthen their oversight of political reform implementation. CEWLA will train 25 youth leaders on Egypt’s political reform plan and techniques for interacting with government officials. The youth will then conduct five half-day dialogue sessions with officials to monitor the implementation of proposed reforms in public political participation with a focus on youth and women’s participation.
Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)
To engage civil society organizations to participate in the democratic process by strengthening their capacity to advocate for free market legislative reform, and to build consensus on needed changes to the Egyptian legal environment to remove impediments to competition in a free market. CIPE will work with the Federation of Economic Development Associations (FEDA) to organize policy reform roundtables, draft policy position papers and an economic analysis report, and conduct policy and advocacy planning sessions for SME business associations.
El-hak Center for Democracy and Human Rights
To raise young local journalists’ awareness of their rights in order to enable them to report more effectively on local community issues. El-hak will conduct eight workshops on journalists’ rights for a total of 200 young local journalists in the Gharbeya, Beni Suef, Qena, and Port Said governorates; establish a network of local journalists; and develop a newsletter and website for the exchange of best practices and professional advice.
Egyptian Center for the Right of Education.
To strengthen an independent teachers network and enable its members to advocate for the welfare of teachers and lobby for reforms. ECER will conduct a training-of-trainers (TOT) workshop for 15 network members. Approximately five of the TOT participants will be selected to conduct two workshops on advocacy campaigns and collective bargaining. Each workshop will be attended by 30 member teachers.
Egyptian Democracy Institute (EDI)
To promote accountability and transparency in parliament through public participation, and to build legislative capacity. EDI will produce quarterly monitoring reports and hold seminars to discuss the overall performance of Parliament and offer recommendations on legislation proposed in the People’s Assembly. EDI will monitor, collect, and document evidence of corruption in Cairo and Alexandria, as well as shortcomings in the delivery of public services in the governorates of the greater Cairo region and Alexandria to share with MPs representing those communities.
Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth (EULY)
To expand the use of new media among youth activists for the promotion of democratic ideas and values. EULY will train 60 youth activists to use filmmaking for the dissemination of democratic ideas and values. The Union will lead a total of four two-month long training workshops in Cairo to build the political knowledge and technical filmmaking skills of participating youth involved in NGOs. Each participating NGO will then produce and distribute a short film about its organization’s mission or about an issue for which they are advocating.
Fares Organization for Social Care (FOSC)
To promote democratic ideas and values among university students in Mansoura and build the capacity of a local NGO in Mansoura working to promote civic and political participation. FOSC will conduct a field study to assess Mansoura University students’ perceptions and knowledge of democratic ideas and values, train youth in the topics where their understanding is limited, and engage students in a theatrical production on political participation that will be presented in various youth centers across the city and surrounding districts.
To promote the concept of street law in Egypt and the Middle East North Africa Region and to strengthen Egyptians’ awareness of their legal rights. Hukuk Elnas will create a web portal to raise Egyptians’ knowledge and awareness of their fundamental rights using simplified, colloquial language. The organization’s lawyers will provide pro-bono legal advice through a 24-hour telephone hotline and instant messaging. Hukuk Elnas will develop a training curriculum to share with other Egyptian and regional NGOs interested in promoting the concept of street law.
Human Development Association (HDA)
To establish a cadre of young local journalists and lawyers in the Daqahliyah province who are able to monitor citizen rights in the media and courts, and to promote citizen engagement and public pressure on local authorities. HDA will train a cadre of 25 young local media professionals and 75 legal activists to monitor and support citizen rights, and encourage citizens to pursue their rights through a hotline for citizen complaints and monthly discussion forums.
Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies (ICDS)
To disseminate information on civil society and democratization in the Arab world and promote democratic ideas and values. ICDS will publish a monthly newsletter and annual report on civil society and democratization in the Arab world, and will hold weekly discussion seminars on topics related to civil society and democratization. In addition, the center will contract an external evaluation consultant to review and assess ICDS’s programs and institutional needs and provide recommendations for strengthening the center.
International Center for Justice and Legal Support and Advocating (formerly known as Justice Association in Gharbeya)
To strengthen women’s leadership within political parties in the West Delta region and to build the capacity of a civil society organization in the Gharbeya governorate. The Center will establish a political party women’s networking and professional development group to promote collaboration among women party members across ideological lines. The women’s forum will be supported by a series of professional development training workshops to enhance party women’s skills in legislative analysis and development, media outreach, and membership development.
Justice and Citizenship Center for Human Rights (JCCHR)
To promote transparency and accountability of local government councils in the Minya governorate and to engage citizens in the decision-making process at the local level. JCCHR will observe and report on local council sessions, develop and administer surveys to local government officials and citizens, disseminate information to the public on local government activities, and organize discussions among local government officials, community leaders and media professionals.
Lawyers Union for Democratic and Legal Studies (LUDLS)
To support freedom of association by strengthening young activists’ ability to express and organize themselves peacefully within the bounds of the law. LUDLS will train 250 youth activists on peaceful assembly and dispute resolution as well as produce a resource report on the these topics.
Mogtamaana for Development and Human Rights Association
To promote transparency and accountability of local government councils and engage citizens in the decision-making process. Mogtamaana will pilot a local council monitoring program in the Giza governorate by observing and reporting on local council meetings, developing and administering surveys to local government officials and citizens, disseminating information to the public on local government activities, and organizing discussions between officials and citizens.
National Association for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms (NADRF)
To build the capacity of grassroots community organizations in developing and managing programs promoting women’s political participation and strengthen the ability of women candidates for the 2010 parliamentary elections. NADRF will train provincial women candidates in the 2010 parliamentary elections and their campaign assistants in managing election campaigns. NADRF will train 30 women trainers (TOT) on leadership and management, who will then lead awareness seminars. NADRF will also conduct a comprehensive evaluation of its three-year program on women’s rights awareness.
One World Foundation for Development and Civil Society Care
To raise awareness among local journalists in Beni Suef, Qena, and Ismailiya about government decentralization and specifically the role of journalists in the process. One World will conduct four workshops for a total of 95 local journalists in Qena, Beni Suef, and Ismailiya on the role of the media in supporting decentralization and promoting transparency in local government, and establish a cadre of media professionals supporting the decentralization process.
Our Hands for Comprehensive Development
To engage Minya youth in civic activism and encourage youth-led initiatives and volunteerism. Our Hands will hold two public meetings for local youth to discuss challenges and to identify youth leaders who would benefit from additional training courses. Participants will produce a short film on youth political participation, and develop and implement action plans for resolving problems facing youth in the governorate. Our Hands will also provide Minya youth an opportunity to learn from the experience of and network with Cairo-based activists and NGOs.
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
To explore the feasibility of establishing a Cairo-based policy center to support Egyptian civic organizations’ and activists’ ability to advocate for policy reforms. POMED will engage in an one-year exploratory phase to identify key coalition members, local staff, the center’s legal status in Egypt, and develop one-year and three-year strategic plans.
Regional Center for Research and Consultations (RCRC)
To identify the strengths and weaknesses in the performance of elected women parliamentarians and to strengthen the performance of female MPs. RCRC will analyze and assess the performance of past and current female parliamentarians and produce a training manual based on its findings to serve as a tool for female MPs, their staff, and NGOs that provide support to them. RCRC will launch an event to disseminate its findings and recommendations as well as test the training curriculum in a training workshop for 15 parliamentary staff and researchers.
Rural Development Association (RDA)
To build the capacity of local councils in the Minofiya governorate and strengthen members’ effectiveness in responding to community needs, engage citizens in the decision-making process at the local level, and promote transparency and accountability of local government councils. RDA will develop a cadre of trainers from among local council members and lead a series of community forums where citizens will address community issues directly with local officials. RDA will also create a website to report on local initiatives discussed at the community forums.
Rural Studies Center (RSC)
To raise awareness of transparency and accountability issues as well as mechanisms available for combating corruption at the local level. RSC will develop a resource guide on the role of legal mechanisms available to local councils, lead six three-day seminars on accountability and transparency for 30 local council members and 30 rural community leaders, and maintain a website in support of its anti-corruption campaign.
Rural Women Development Association (RWDA)
To engage citizens in the decision-making process and public administration at the local level and to strengthen rural women’s engagement in local affairs. RWDA will empower its rural community to play a role in local administration; and bring together constituents and local officials to discuss and identify solutions for community problems, guide advocacy efforts to exert pressure on local officials, and strengthen local women’s leadership skills and civic knowledge through awareness seminars and a women’s parliament club.
SAWA Association for the Development of Society, Woman, Child and Environment
To strengthen the rule of law on civic and human rights-related cases in Giza. SAWA will develop a cadre of lawyers to pursue the enforcement of existing national and international laws concerning civic and human rights. SAWA will train young lawyers in Giza and place them as volunteers within local NGOs to provide legal assistance to the organizations and their beneficiaries.
Sons of Land Center for Human Rights (SLCHR)
To support the workers’ movement and promote the rights of temporary workers in al-Sharkiya, Daqahliyah, and Dumyat governorates. SLCHR will build workers’ capacity to demand their rights through two workshops and four seminars, while advocating for their rights through a media campaign and direct legal assistance. SLCHR will focus on workers who are hired on temporary contracts.
To expand and maintain a network of youth activists on Egyptian university campuses and to encourage the participation of university students in student union elections and civic activities on campus. Youth Forum will conduct a civic and political awareness training program for 150 university students in the Gharbeya, Suez, Minya, and Assiut governorates. The Forum will lead a total of six, repetitive two-day training workshops to build the political knowledge and leadership skills of university students in these target governorates.
Source: NED official website
We just found this online letter/petition published by CSID on Sept. 11, 2006, under the name of an “Open Letter to President Bush”.
The letter is an appeal to (then President) George W. Bush, and here is an excerpt:
Open Letter to President Bush re: democracy promotion
“Dear Mr. President:
As Arab and Muslim intellectuals and activists concerned about the promotion of democracy in our region, we urge you to reaffirm‚ words and actions‚ America ‘s commitment to sustained democratic reform in the Arab world. It is our belief that the main problem with U.S. policies in the Middle East (in particular in Iraq , Palestine , and elsewhere) is precisely their failure to live up to America ‘s democratic ideals of liberty and justice for all. We have been heartened by the strong commitment to liberty you had expressed in your November 2003 speech at the National Endowment for Democracy and then your second inaugural address…
… We realize that democracy is not easily attained and must ultimately come from within. But it can receive encouragement and support, both of which it badly needs today in Arab countries….
…To mention but one case where U.S. influence may do much good, Egypt has lately seen a regime crackdown on opposition activists. In February, the government postponed municipal elections and renewed the emergency law. The regime has not even spared Egypt ‘ s venerable judiciary which has steadfastly proclaimed its independence in recent months. And liberal opposition politician Ayman Nour, who was allowed to run in last year’s presidential election and won 7.6% of the popular vote, second behind President Mubarak, was arrested and sentenced in a murky process to five years in jail. The health of Mr. Nour, a dear friend and colleague of many of us, continues to deteriorate. We pray that you will take his case to heart and let the Egyptian regime hear your concerns. Hundreds of other activists (including doctors, university professors, journalists and civil society activists) whose only crime was to express their desire for freedom, continue to languish in jail and suffer torture and police brutality. This brutality often included sexual molestation and public humiliation of women activists and journalists by pro-government thugs…
… We entreat you to do everything you can to ensure that a small number of authoritarian rulers will not control the future of more than 300 million Arabs, more than half of whom are not yet 20 years old. Freedom and democracy are the only way to build a world where violence is replaced by peaceful public debate and political participation, and despair is substituted by hope, tolerance and dignity.
The list of 105 signatories include 44 Egyptian activists, but more importantly number 41 on the short list of the people who signed this letter is no other than Dr. Amr Hamzawy, who signed as:
41- Amr Hamzawy, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA/Egypt
That’s Amr Hamzawy, petitioning Bush (Iraq invader & Crusader!), to help spread democracy in Egypt. Yet, Hamzawy now claims that he was against Bush’s policies in the Middle East!
Still don’t believe “The Great Deception 2011″??
By KATHY KELLY
“Where is Your Democracy?”
On May 5, 2011, CNN World News asked whether killing Osama bin Laden was legal under international law. Other news commentary has questioned whether it would have been both possible and advantageous to bring Osama bin Laden to trial rather than kill him.
World attention has been focused, however briefly, on questions of legality regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden. But, with the increasing use of Predator drones to kill suspected “high value targets” in Pakistan and Afghanistan, extrajudicial killings by U.S. military forces have become the new norm.
Just three days after Osama bin Laden was killed, an attack employing remote-control aerial drones killed fifteen people in Pakistan and wounded four. Last month, a drone attack killed 44 people in Pakistan’s tribal region. CNN reports that their Islamabad bureau has counted four drone strikes over the last month and a half. Friday’s suspected drone strike was the 21st this year. There were 111 strikes in 2010. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated that 957 innocent civilians were killed in 2010.
By NOAM CHOMSKY
The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces — coinciding, fortuitously, with a remarkable uprising of tens of thousands in support of working people and democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, and other U.S. cities. If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and Madison intersected, however, they were headed in opposite directions: in Cairo toward gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in Madison towards defending rights that had been won in long and hard struggles and are now under severe attack.
Each is a microcosm of tendencies in global society, following varied courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower called “the most strategically important area in the world” — “a stupendous source of strategic power” and “probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment,” in the words of the State Department in the 1940s, a prize that the U.S. intended to keep for itself and its allies in the unfolding New World Order of that day. Read more…
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 003001
NSC STAFF FOR WATERS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/09/2017
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, KMPI, EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT: UPDATED DEMOCRACY STRATEGY
REF: STATE 130991
Classified by DCM Stuart Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Our fundamental reform goal in Egypt remains democratic transformation, including the expansion of political freedom and democratic pluralism, respect for human rights, and a stable, democratic and legitimate transition to the post-Mubarak era. While our programs in the areas of judicial reform and decentralization are well-conceived and have had some notable successes, we propose to expand our support for civil society, especially through offshore programming. During the spring of 2007, Embassy Cairo, coordinating closely with Washington colleagues via shared draft papers and secure DVC discussions, drafted the following document which currently serves as the basis for our democracy promotion efforts in Egypt. End summary.
Ref ID: 09CAIRO1977
Date: 2009-10-19 08:03
Origin: Embassy Cairo
DE RUEHEG #1977/01 2920803
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 190803Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3907
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 001977
NEA/ELA FOR SHAMPAINE AND PINA
NSC FOR KUMAR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM PHUM EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT: POLITICAL ACTIVISTS SUGGEST CHANGE
UNLIKELY TO COME IN ELECTIONS, URGE CONTINUE U.S. PRESSURE
AND ADVOCATE FOR “TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT.”
REF: CAIRO 1140
Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Key Points
– Political activists at an Ambassador-hosted lunch were pessimistic that the upcoming elections would offer opportunities for real change.
– Most agreed that voter apathy and low voter turnout in previous elections can be explained by the absence of a ”political culture,” pressure from security services, and a lack of confidence that either the NDP or the opposition could effect needed change.
– One participant advocated an opposition boycott to send the message the election process is flawed. Several called for international monitoring. Others advocated for a caretaker government that would lead the transition to democracy.
– The group reflected the general perception that U.S. support for democracy in Egypt has waned. Several participants urged that the U.S. avoid the impression of support for Gamal Mubarak’s succession to the presidency, suggesting any signal would be read as an explicit endorsement.
2. (C) Comment: General pessimism, sometimes veering into cynicism, about the upcoming election season and complaints about possible U.S. support for Gamal Mubarak’s succession are common themes of our engagement with political activists in this context and others. Many are nostalgic for the political opening of 2005 and suggest GoE efforts since then have successfully closed some of that political space. End Comment.
3. (C) Ambassador hosted a lunch October 4 with representatives from opposition political parties, academics and journalists. Visiting National Security Council Senior Director for Global Engagement Pradeep Ramamurthy also joined the lunch. Discussions focused on the state of internal political affairs and the upcoming national election cycle. Participants expressed pessimism that the 2010 parliamentary and 2011 presidential elections present an opportunity for real change. A frequent public commentator on internal political issues and foreign affairs, Dr. Hassan Nafaa, said prospects for change were constrained by recent amendments to the constitution that reduced the role of the judiciary and ”tailored” presidential candidate qualifications to fit Gamal Mubarak. He added that lack of accountability within the current system along with the GoE’s control over the election process hampers internal watchdog efforts.
4. (C) Journalist and human rights activist Hisham Kassem said police scrutiny limits the public’s interest in politics and strips the opposition of its technocrats who fear the effects of their participation on their livelihood. What remains are those who are defiant in the face of these tactics along with those whose politics are limited to “Down with Mubarak” slogans. Kassem also said without a real ”political system,” power is concentrated within a presidency that often leaves the population guessing about its intentions. The state should be pushed to lift its pressure on the opposition and expand freedom of the press. Dr. Hossam Eissa, member of the Nasserite Party and Law Professor at Ain Shams University went further, calling all opposition political parties, including his own, “part of the regime.” He advocated for an opposition boycott of the elections as the best way to send a message that the elections are not truly competitive.
5. (C) Many noted the lack of a political culture. According to a nephew of the former president, Anwar Esmat El-Sadat,
(Note: A former NDP MP, Sadat now leads an NGO and the currently unregistered Reform and Development Party. End
Note.) the lack of a political culture is exacerbated by pressure from the regime and opposition infighting. He called for international observers to help “protect our votes.” Editor of &Democracy8 Magazine (published by the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies) Hala Mustapha called for a “revival of social and political dialogue.”
6. (C) Some suggested a “transitional period” was needed to develop that culture and implement needed reforms. Osama Al Ghazali Harb, former NDP member, leader of the opposition Democratic Front Party and editor of the “Siyassa Dawliyya” (or Foreign Affairs) Magazine published by the Al Ahram Foundation, said that because Egypt lacks a real political system it needs a transitional period to “build it from scratch.” Dr. Eissa said Egypt’s history suggests that change comes from within government and not as a result of external pressure from civil society. He called for a two
year transitional government led by a respected political outsider like Mohammed El Baradei.
7. (C) Participants expressed concern about U.S. democracy promotion efforts and cautioned against support for succession. Osama El Ghazali Harb noted the perception that U.S. support for political activists had waned and told the Ambassador U.S. support for democratization efforts remains critical. This he said includes avoiding the appearance of supporting Gamal Mubarak. Dr. Eissa said he and others had been very concerned about the possibility of a meeting between Gamal Mubarak and President Obama while in Cairo, something they would have seen as an explicit sign of support. Dr. Nafaa also suggested to the Ambassador that the U.S. avoid the appearance of supporting Gamal Mubarak. He added that the U.S. should understand that if Gamal becomes president, it is because he was “imposed not elected.”
8. (C) The Ambassador reiterated throughout the lunch that the current administration had not diminished its concern for democracy promotion, that a non-confrontational approach did not mean that the U.S. had abandoned advocacy, and that funding for civil society continued. The Ambassador also stressed repeatedly that the U.S. would not take a position on who would be the next president of Egypt, but that we would continue to encourage a free, fair, and transparent electoral process.