American Egyptian Alliance presses for political change in Cairo

President of the Alliance of Egyptian Americans (AEA) Mahmoud al-Shazly has voiced his willingness to lobby for future Egyptian regimes should they be compatible with the AEA agenda. The announcement came during a press conference held at the National Journalism Center in Washington on Monday.

Al-Shazly said the AEA is an American cultural organization that is currently prohibited from practicing policy in both the United States and Egypt.

“Registering the AEA as a lobbying firm allows us to practice policy,” added al-Shazly. “We’re not with or against the government. We’re at an equal distance from all parties. For this conference we invited Gamal Mubarak, secretary-general of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Mohamed Kamal, prominent NDP leader, and Mufeed Shehab, minister of state for legal affairs and parliamentary councils. All of them apologized.”

Secretary-general for the alliance Tarek al-Saadawy said the AEA-sponsored conference recommended ending the Emergency Law in Egypt, giving Egyptian expatriates the right to vote at consulates, allowing judicial supervision of elections and permitting civil society organizations to monitor elections. It also recommended amending Article 76 of the Egyptian Constitution which stipulates presidential eligibility and, finally, permitting voting using the identity card.

AEA is scheduled to hold another conference in Cairo by the end of next December, in collaboration with the Egyptian-American Friendship association.

Talk of American alliances in the region and support for democracy in Egypt were at the forefront of the discussion during the conference.

One segment discussed “Why do Egyptians hate America?”

Democratic Front Party chief Osama al-Ghazaly Harb said that Egyptians despise America's alignment with Israel. Harb said many Egyptians, including leftists, are fond of American movies, music, life style and education, which proves that Egyptian and Arab citizens are not narrow-minded when dealing with the US.

Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Egyptians are wrong to believe that the US can press President Hosni Mubarak to institute democracy and Israel to settle the conflict with Palestine. Civil society is the only party able to influence and expose the regime, she said.

The American administration can take simple steps in the short term to meet the demands of those advocating for democracy in Egypt, and among the US' long-term goals is supporting democracy, but it is not its immediate priority, as it has other different interests, said an expert on Egypt and Middle East affairs.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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