Sir-- The case of Ayman Nour is neither of Condoleezza Rice's, nor America's business. If the man falsified documents as a means to register his political movement, as has been alleged, it is in the domain of Egypt's internal affairs as a respected sovereign nation. If he committed this fraud, he should be punished. If he didn't, then Mr Nour should go free. But this is for an Egyptian court to decide; not Rice, Bush, Wolfowitz, Rove, or Rumsfeld.
The problem when dealing with the US in foreign policy is that George Bush is a hard-headed south Texan incapable, or unwilling, to admit to his mistakes. He is unrealistically rigid in his thinking and understanding of international affairs, statecraft, and prudent American foreign policy. His inner-circle at the White House, as well as Secretary of State Rice, are just as inflexible in their thinking. He and Rice are always right, the rest of the world is always wrong.
I noticed this evangelical thinking in his presidential nomination convention speech last summer, when he said America has a "calling beyond the stars to stand for freedom throughout the world". This is nonsense. Now, his group is on a reform kick wanting to change the world, whether it's Iraq, Iran, North Korea, the Arab world in general, or Egypt in particular.
In this administration's latest kick to pontificate its reform rhetoric everywhere on the planet, Bush has Rice lecturing your Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul- Gheit about reform and liberalisation throughout the entire Arab world. This high-minded, high-handed preaching to such a high ranking Egyptian government official about such ideological concepts has no place in the realm of international relations.
There is nothing else to say, other than to extend to you, Egypt, my apology for the meddling actions and policies of this government into your affairs which, I -- including millions of other Americans -- vehemently oppose and disagree with.
Terre Haute, IN
Sir-- The week between 31 January and 4 February a novel and ground-breaking Arab student event was held in North America that was reported across the globe. It was not however reported in the region it actually mattered to most -- the Arab world. The Arab Student Collective at the University of Toronto held an event entitled "Israeli Apartheid Week", consisting of a series of lectures and the setting up of a mock refugee camp to educate students and citizens in Canada about the difficult conditions Palestinians have endured over 50 years. Using the lens of South African Apartheid to analyse the present Arab-Israeli conflict, the event culminated with a lecture by Jewish Professor Illan Pappe from Haifa University, who boldly declared there is no equivalent to the African National Congress in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, although the equivalent of the Apartheid regime is the state of Israel.
The event created a stir in Canada and was reported globally by the Washington Post, New York Times, Hindu Times, Tehran Times even the Israeli Ha'aretz, yet not one Arab voice reported this ground-breaking event. Similar activities had been shut down by pro-Israeli groups on other North American campuses before and although these same groups tried to prevent this event too, they failed to do so because it was acceptable within the University of Toronto's guidelines.
Over the last 50 years we have not only lost the Arab-Israeli conflict, we have lost the international debate, the latter is what is unforgivable to our history and to our future generations. We know as students that we cannot win the conflict, neither now and probably not in the future but we know we can win the debate, and this must be the starting point for a new and just Arab endeavour. So when Arab students actually do win the debate against their pro-Israeli counterparts and the international media reports it, we expect the Arab media to do us, as well as themselves, justice and report it as well.
We were surprised that your respective organisation did not report this event. However, there will be more opportunities for the Arab media to report more such activities, including next year's Israeli Apartheid Week II. We hope the Arab media, including your organisation, does not further contribute to our straggling modern history by allowing this new movement to go unnoticed.
Arab Students' Collective
University of Toronto
Sir-- While Patrick Seale's article 'A time for political wisdom in Iraq' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 February) has a general sense to it, and I agree with his call for the rapid withdrawal of the US military, I don't believe that a more stable or representative government is a likely outcome of the recent "elections". First, the elections have highly questionable legitimacy, not only in terms of turnout and even objective accounting of votes (which can also be said about the last two US presidential elections), but also because of the nature of the government that ran those elections and the powers and charter which this new "government" has.
If this new Iraqi national assembly votes to ask the US to leave, does anyone seriously expect the US would agree? I don't think you start building the largest embassy you have in the world, nor a dozen major military bases, unless you plan to stay. And those who are profiting by this imperial adventure show no sign of wanting to leave. This reminds me of nothing more than what the British imperialists did 70-80 years ago -- imperial rule with an Iraqi face.
It's not so much that the US wants to suck the Iraqi oil directly into its fuel tanks, but it certainly wants to be in a position to influence, in various ways, what oil goes where, to whom, and at what price. Its rivals for world power (the EU and Japan economically, a resurgent Russia militarily, and a rapidly rising China in both ways) need to be checked. Since the US has become a huge debtor nation -- dependent on enormous cash inflows from Asia and Europe via treasury bonds to stave off economic chaos, produces little beyond cereal grains, nuclear power plants, and weapons of war that the world wants to buy in large quantities -- its trump cards in the game of hegemony are reduced mostly to military might and the threat of its use. Hence, the desire to roost in the Gulf, and since Saudi Arabia is unstable in the near term and a source of Al- Qaeda ire, the move across the Gulf to Iraq would hit both of those birds with one stone.
No, I don't think the puppet masters will let their marionettes off the strings any time soon.