Last month, Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian human rights advocate, met with President Bush in Washington when he was flown there for an award granted by the National Endowment for Democracy. Mr. Kassem, the only winner from Egypt, said that Mr. Bush had spoken effusively about promoting democracy to the other recipients, but he did not address the topic when it came to Egypt.
“In comparison with my colleagues from other countries, this was the least of his interests,” Mr. Kassem said.
He and other democracy campaigners in Egypt say that when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Egyptian officials in Sharm el Sheik on Tuesday as part of her preparation for a Middle East peace summit meeting, they expect from her a similar approach to Egyptian human rights and democracy. Even if she does raise the issues, analysts here say, it will have little impact.
That is in sharp contrast to the administration’s aggressive campaign for democracy in 2005 and 2006, which did have an effect and shows shifting American priorities, advocates and analysts say. [complete article]