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Egypt is a Middle Eastern country located in northeast Africa. It is on the Mediterranean Sea to the north and touches Israel on the east. The Suez Canal is in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, offering a shortcut route around the continent of Africa. [1]


In a Q&A session following a meeting with Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Aboul Gheit, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick discussed the democratic process in the Middle East. A questioner stated: "We must have a budget to support democracy and, actually, Mrs. Liz Cheney said that they have a budget for training an Egyptian political party. What is this budget and what specific training? What kind of training do you have for Egyptian opposition parties? The Egyptian Constitution refused to any Egyptian party to receive money from abroad. This is against the Egyptian Constitution."

Zoellick responded that assistance was in the form of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program, part of the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative (BMENA), which "has focused on civil society elements helping NGOs, helping expand the context of the society in which more free and open politics participates -- whether it be press aspects, whether it be private institutions that are involved with election monitoring and other topics.

"We are expanding about five million dollars of funds through our National Economic -- some of it goes through our NED, our National Endowment for Democracy -- some of it will be for some separate programs. ... It's to try to support the home-grown efforts in Egypt to build the institutions of an operating democracy, and we have not had any resistance from the Egyptian Government in doing that," Zoellick said.

It should be noted that both MEPI and BMENA, Middle East democratization programs, are run by Elizabeth Cheney, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Cheney is the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Punishing the Press

"With the tacit consent of the Bush administration, authoritarian Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is continuing his campaign against the democratic movement that sprouted in his country last year," the Washington Post reported July 19, 2006. His government has made it illegal to "'affront the president of the republic' — or insult parliament, public agencies, the armed forces, the judiciary." Journalists and bloggers have been arrested, jailed and brutally treated. "The crackdown on the press was predictable," the Post says, "because it followed Mr. Mubarak's assault on opposition political parties and on a judges' reform movement — the two other key elements of Cairo's promising Spring of 2005."


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Egypt, National Geographic, accessed November 2007.

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