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Ginsburg to Egyptians: I wouldn’t use U.S. Constitution as a model

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Published February 06, 2012
FoxNews.com

As Egyptian officials prepare to send to trial 19 American democracy and rights workers, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited Cairo last week where she suggested Egyptian revolutionaries not use the U.S. Constitution as a model in the post-Arab Spring.

“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” Ginsburg said in an interview on Al Hayat television last Wednesday. “I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, have an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.”

As Egypt prepares to write a new constitution, Ginsburg, who was traveling during the court’s break to speak with legislators and judges in Egypt as well as Tunisia, spoke to students at Cairo University, encouraging them to enjoy the opportunity to participate in the “exceptional transitional period to a real democratic state.”

Read more: FOX

U.S. making nice with the Muslim Brotherhood?

The highest-level meeting between a U.S. diplomat and Muslim Brotherhood officials will take place today in Cairo, Egypt.

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U.S. deputy secretary of state, William Burns, will meet officials of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing in the highest-level meeting yet between the two sides. (Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. has long shunned Egypt‘s Muslim Brotherhood, accusing it of links to terrorists. Looks like that is about to change.

The State Department‘s number two diplomat, William Burns, will meet with leaders of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which just won roughly 40 percent of the seats in parliament, AFP reports. (Final results of Egypt’s recent legislative elections have not yet been released).

The meeting marks part of a shift towards rapprochment from a decades-old U.S. policy of hostility toward the Brotherhood, who many in the U.S still fear will pose a threat to Israel and boost support for more extreme Islamists.

Still, the rise of Islamists, moderate and extreme, is a new reality in post-Mubarak Egypt. See Middle East highlights in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bills from Jul. 2012, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved an amendment to limit the Secretary of State from using funds to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Egyptian Police Raid Offices of US-Backed Democracy-Promotion Groups

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By John Tabin

This is an outrage:

Cairo (CNN) — Several rights groups, including three U.S.-based entities, were raided in Cairo and other Egyptian locations on Thursday in what one source called a push by police to “show some muscle.”

Police conducted 17 raids of nongovernmental organizations, targeting at least 10 groups across the country, Egypt’s general prosecutor’s office said. The targeted groups included U.S.-based Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

The actions were part of an investigation into allegations that groups may have received illegal foreign funding and have been operating without licenses from the Foreign Ministry and local ministries, according to Adel Saeed, spokesman for the general prosecutor’s office.

But the leaders of the U.S.-based organizations and the U.S. State Department condemned the raids and called on Egyptian authorities to allow the groups to resume their work.

“This action is inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation we have had over many years,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday. Washington has called on Egyptian authorities “to immediately end the harassment of NGOs (and) NGO staff, return all property and resolve this issue immediately.”

[…]

Freedom House urged the Obama administration to “scrutinize the $1.3 billion that the United States annually provides the Egyptian military to fund arms purchases and training.”

“In the current fiscal environment, the United States must not subsidize authoritarianism in Egypt while the Egyptian government is preventing NGOs from implementing democracy and human rights projects subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer,” said Charles Dunne, Freedom House’s director of Middle East and North Africa programs.

The NDI and IRI, loosely affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties and chaired by Madeline Albright and John McCain, respectively, are funded in part by the US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy. In effect, the Egyptian government’s actions represent US military aid being used to undermine the effectiveness of US civil society aid. It’s worth expounding on the stakes here.

Egypt is in the midst of a democratic transition where Islamists (including the radical Salafists) have had much success at the ballot box. Jamie Kirchick recently talked to free-market oriented liberal activists leary of the direction that post-Mubarak Egypt; his American Interest article is difficult to summarize, but this part is relevant to today’s news:

Counterintuitively, [activist Amr] Bargisi believes that the best hope for a liberal Egypt, given the circumstances, is if the Muslim Brotherhood gets the opportunity to steward the country. This is because the job of ruling Egypt right now is unenviable, and that whichever force comes to power is bound to lose popular support. This scenario, then, may provide sufficient time for genuine liberal ideals to take hold and for a true democratic opening to form. Bargisi tells me that there are three conditions, however, for this to happen. The first is that the international community must take a “lukewarm attitude, not too hostile, not too welcoming”, to a Brotherhood-led Egypt. “Too hostile helps the Islamists; too welcoming helps the Islamists”, he says.

Second, is that the West, and the United States in particular, should move away from the realm of “day-to-day” politics-full of rank opportunists and poseurs, in Bargisi’s opinion-and instead “focus on civil society, think tanks, independent movements, political groups.” And for this civil society to flourish, the military must “stand as a guard on democracy” and give up its “chauvinism.” But most important is that those Egyptians opposed to the instantiation of a clerical state need to know as clearly as their Islamist opponents in which direction they want to take the country. “There must be some kind of vision for what the country should look like, and in this complete vagueness, the Islamists will win”, Bargisi tells me.

Today’s raids obviously get in the way of the second condition — improving civil society — but they also get in the way of the third condition; training political parties to define their views on issues is a big part of what the NDI and IRI do. Some liberals hope that the military can stand at a bulwark against unfettered, tyrannous Islamism, but now we see the military regime continuing and even expanding on Mubarak-era policies of actively suppressing liberal opposition. This does not bode well.

If the regime doesn’t comply with Nuland’s call for an immediate change in course, military aid needs to be at least partially halted, if only briefly. Letting this stand with no tangible consequences is asking for trouble.

Source

China/Arab League Build Ties: Encirclement of the West Advances

May 7, 2011 – 6:16 pm EST

The US’s great friends China and the Arab League are getting further into bed together. Why?

From the Communist Party of China website, May 03, 2011.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on Monday to discuss cooperation between China and the Arab world.

China and the Arab countries decided last year to promote the strategic relationship of cooperation, which marked a new era of bilateral ties, Yang said.

China is willing to join hands with the Arab world to promote the China-Arab Cooperation Forum and deepen bilateral cooperation in all sectors, Yang said.

Moussa said the Arab League is happy to see the progress made in collective cooperation between China and Arab countries in fields such as politics, economy and culture.

The pan-Arab body expected to enhance the level of bilateral ties with the joint efforts from China, Moussa added.

Yang arrived in Cairo on Monday on a two-day visit. On Tuesday, he will meet Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces chief Hussein Tantawi.

Of course the West has nothing to fear from closer collusion between China and the Arab world.

They both have our best interests at heart.

Original Article

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