Tags: Presidential | Politics | Egypt

Presidential Politics in Egypt

Wednesday, 18 May 2005 12:00 AM

As head of the air force in the 1960s, the Soviet-trained then-Gen. Mubarak humiliated his Soviet advisers when they told him they had detected a gap in Israel's radar coverage around the Sinai Peninsula. They thought this would be a good opportunity for Egyptian pilots to fly through the hole, drop a few bombs and return safely. He declined, telling his pilots that if gap there was, it was most probably an Israeli trap.

A quarter of a century at the pinnacle was beginning to wear a tad long for most Egyptians, who worried he had failed to appoint a vice president – he is still looking for a worthy candidate, he told visitors one day – while grooming his son AMA, a wealthy businessman, as his successor, denials notwithstanding.

The United States fretted about the lack of democracy and soon found a Chalabi-like politician who seemed at first blush to meet the Bush Doctrine's criteria for a democratic challenger.

Ayman – pronounced amen – Nour, 41, is a leading opposition member of parliament and head of a brand new political party: Al-Ghad (Tomorrow). He has made all the right noises to earn brownie points at the White House. From constitutional reform to curtailing the president's powers with a two-term limit, and from freedom of expression to a vibrant multi-party system, Mr. Ayman is Washington's man.

His recent arrest – after a tame, pro-Mubarak parliament stripped him of his immunity – on forgery charges was bound to enhance his credentials as a viable presidential candidate.

The Interior Ministry's Anti-Forgery Department said, "An investigation into the political practices of MP Ayman Nour showed that, in an attempt to gain a legal license for his party, Nour had fabricated and forged the signatures of as many as 1,187 citizens. Nour forged these signatures to provide the Political Parties Committee with what is needed to legalize his party."

Just two days before his arrest, Mr. Nour's meeting with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright may have been the straw that broke the Mubarak camel's back. Dr. Rice, Mrs. Albright's successor, also had nice things to say about him. Some anti-Mubarak politicians are cautioning about Mr. Nour's checkered background, which they say includes:

A checkered background has seldom been a handicap when challenging a strongman in the developing world. In fact, it is often a prerequisite. But it might behoove the Bush administration to take another look at Ayman Nour before it opts to make the annual $2.1 billion aid to Egypt package conditional on democratic change.

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As head of the air force in the 1960s, the Soviet-trained then-Gen. Mubarak humiliated his Soviet advisers when they told him they had detected a gap in Israel's radar coverage around the Sinai Peninsula. They thought this would be a good opportunity for Egyptian pilots to...
Presidential,Politics,Egypt
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2005-00-18
Wednesday, 18 May 2005 12:00 AM
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