March 18, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 1819

Mixed Reactions in Egyptian Government Press to Bush's Visit in Egypt

March 18, 2008
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 1819

The recent visit by U.S. President Bush to Egypt evoked mixed reactions from the government press. For example, in an editorial, the government daily Al-Ahram implicitly criticized the U.S. for pressuring Egypt to implement democratic reforms, but also described Egypt-U.S. relations as "strategic and highly important for both countries." In contrast, the weekly of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party, Al-Watani Al-Yawm, stated that Bush was not welcome in Egypt, and harshly attacked him and his administration.

The following are excerpts from the article.

Al-Ahram: Egypt and the U.S. Need One Another

Al-Ahram's January 17, 2007 editorial stated: "The meeting between [Egyptian] President Hosni Mubarak and U.S. President George Bush in Sharm Al-Sheikh underscored several facts that are [already] well known to both sides. First, that Egypt-U.S. relations are strategic and highly important for both countries. Like any relations between two important countries, they can withstand any disagreement. These relations are based upon a number of principles that we must never forget. Perhaps the most important of these [principles is the fact that] these are relations between two superpowers: [The U.S.] is currently the major superpower in the world... while [Egypt] is the most important superpower in the Arab region today, no matter what the skeptics and [flaunters of extremist] slogans are saying. In this reality, it is patently clear that neither of the two countries can avoid needing the other...

"Second, the whole world now maintains relations with the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia... Those of you who call to sever the strategic and crucial ties with the number one superpower in the international community today – we ask you, don't hurry to shoot off your mouths.

"Third, neither of the sides has the right to impose a specific agenda or work program that the other must implement in full. It would be inconceivable, for example, for one side to decide that its regime is better [than that of the other side], and that the other side must therefore change its values, customs and traditions and adapt them to its own... These relations must never be contingent upon one side's complete capitulation to [the will of] the other. That will never happen. Therefore, any talk of imposing a certain model of democracy upon the peoples of certain countries or a certain region is absurd. The peoples are not a tool that can be turned on and off at will.

"Fourth, economic [ties] remain [only] one component of Egypt-U.S. relations, rather than the only component. We acknowledge that the U.S. is important to the economy of Egypt, just as it is important to the economies of the rest of the countries in the world. But [these economic ties must be maintained] on a basis of mutual respect for each country's sovereignty and political aspirations, and not on a basis that disregards the sovereignty [of one country]... If certain U.S. congressmen have [reservations] about the aid [extended by the U.S. to Egypt], they are entitled to their opinion. But the American administration recognizes the importance of this aid in reinforcing the relations between the two sides...

"Bush's statements in his meeting with President Mubarak reaffirmed all these points..."[1]

NDP Weekly: Bush Will Go Down in History as a Despicable President

In the January 15, 2008 editorial in Al-Watani Al-Yawm, the weekly of Egypt's ruling NDP party, editor-in-chief Muhammad Hassan Al-Alfi leveled harsh criticism at Bush:

"Does [U.S. President George Bush] think that we are a people who understand nothing and have no memory? Does he mistake us for Indians? What I find most puzzling is the mentality of this 'war president,' as [Bush] called himself a few years ago. Does he have a memory? Is he aware of what he has done in the world? President [Bush], did you hear what you were saying when you called Iran the greatest threat to the security of the world? Did you hear what you were saying when you said out loud that it is the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world? [Bush] thinks that we do not understand and have no memory. Either he does not hear what he is saying, or he forgets [what he has said].

"Such is the American president George Bush, who is now gasping out his last breaths as president. He will plague the world only for a few more months, after which he will go down in the black pages of history as one of the most despicable of rulers. He will be remembered as [a ruler] who [delivered] blows and [waged] war in the name of humanitarianism, invaded countries in the name of democracy, violated human rights in the name of honor, murdered innocents based on lies, spread anarchy in the name of justice, and issued threats. These are numerous labels and distinctions that the American president, who is now visiting Egypt, will not be able to escape...

"He has not come to make peace or to resolve the Palestinian problem. [In fact], it can be said that he [revealed his true face] at the Annapolis conference, when he declared that Israel was a Jewish state – thereby sanctioning its racism and denying the exiled Palestinian peoples' right of return.

"He has not come to make peace, but to demonstrate that he is more an Israeli president than an American one, and that he is more Jewish in orientation than he is Christian. He did not exert any pressure on Israel, but only cried over the [Jewish] victims [of the Holocaust]. At the same time, he shed not a single tear over the victims of his own [aggression] in Iraq – more than 200,000 [Iraqi] civilians...

"[Bush] has come to sell the Arabs his anti-Iran [agenda], and to warn them of Iran's future nuclear bomb. He has come to tell [us] that Iran, not Israel, is the greatest threat [to the security of the region], and that since Israel poses a smaller threat than Iran to the lives and future of the Arabs, [it should be considered] closer to them and more merciful towards them than the Muslim Iran.

"The solutions that Bush has brought with him to the Middle East are the solutions of a warmonger, not the solutions of a man of peace... But we will not cooperate with this naïve and memory-less attempt to market [the anti-Iran agenda] in order [to prepare the ground] for an impending military measure that will serve Israel's [interests] – [for this] is what this American merchant is [trying to] do with his outdated, stupid, and rotten proposals...

"Bush came to Sharm Al-Sheikh today, but it cannot be said that the Egyptian people welcomed this visit, or displayed any interest in it... [Bush], go find yourself some other Indians. We welcome only those leaders who contribute to the knowledge, well-being, justice, and dignified existence of humanity and civilization. The ones who call for war, destruction and tyranny we welcome only because our nobility and customs of hospitality [oblige us to]..."[2]

[1] Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 17, 2008.

[2] Al-Watani Al-Yawm (Egypt), January 15, 2008.

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