West cools towards Mubarak: President's failure to talk to opponents causes concern
Mr Mubarak's tour of Bonn, London and Washington is taking place at a time when his domestic Islamic enemies are growing ever more powerful. While Mr Mubarak seeks to blame foreign elements, Western officials say privately that he has failed to deal constructively with a fundamentalist movement that is essentially homegrown and not, as the President has insisted during his London visit, fomented by Iran and others.
'The worry is that for all these years the West may have pinned its entire Middle East policy on a very shaky element,' said one Western official privately. 'It is worrying precisely because the unrest is not just externally fuelled. It has a real internal base.' It was, for instance, all the more troubling because there was in fact no apparent link to Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric living in the US who, it is claimed, is the leader of militants fighting to overthrow the Egyptian government.
'If it was simply a matter of a one- eyed sheikh in New Jersey it wouldn't be so bad,' the official added. 'It is possible to devise a link, but is all the more worrying because there isn't any.'
What privately frustrates both the United States and Britain is what they consider President Mubarak's failure to open a serious political dialogue with his domestic opponents. 'Mubarak ought to be opening a political channel with them,' said a Western diplomat. 'He has made no attempt at a political dialogue.'
The President had hoped that the public emphasis of his three-day London visit, which included talks with John Major and Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, would be Egypt's role in the Middle East peace process. Since the Camp David accords 15 years ago Egypt has formed a cornerstone of the West's policy in the region. But that policy was based on Egypt remaining a relative bastion of stability. With the visit overshadowed by the ultra-sensitive concerns about his political future after more than 10 years in power, the President has kept a pointedly low profile and did not even give a press conference while in London.
Seeking to salvage what remains of the tourist industry in his country, he sought publicly in a few interviews to play down the scale of the attacks inside Egypt that have killed three foreign holiday-makers. Instead, he reiterated Egyptian claims that Iran and Sudan were seeking to destabilise Egypt. 'Iran thinks it can destabilise our country. But it will be difficult for them. Besides, we are capable of creating problems in Iran in return. We could do it. We have ways and means,' he was quoted as saying.
Mr Mubarak denied that Egypt struck a deal to hand over one of the suspects in the bombing of the New York World Trade Center on 26 February in exchange for the deportation of Sheikh Abdel-Rahman from the US, against which the cleric has appealed. He said the suspect Mahmud Abu Halima had given the Egyptian authorities information that 'will bring disaster' on Muslim militants.
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
General Election 2015: Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind as he casts a line to the disaffected of Grimsby
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...