As the most populous Arab country, Egypt has long played a unique role in the Middle East and has been an important U.S. ally in the region.
Egypt was also seen as a key focal point of the Bush administration's "freedom agenda," with U.S. pressure to reform hailed as leading to political openings by 2005. However, more recently, the Egyptian government has taken a series of regressive steps with regard to respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Numerous political activists and dissidents remain in Egyptian prisons on dubious charges, including former presidential candidate Ayman Nour and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Most recently, leading political reform activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison on charges of "tarnishing Egypt's reputation."
What is the extent of Egypt's regression on human rights and rule of law? What actions has the Egyptian government taken in this regard? Against what political backdrop are such steps being taken?
What has been the role of the Egyptian judiciary in this regard? What are the consequences of such steps on the Egyptian political scene and the prospect for stability in Egypt?
How has the U.S. government reacted to the deterioration of the rule of law in Egypt? What policy options are available for addressing these issues?
And what may we expect in the months and years ahead in Egypt?- Project on Middle East Democracy
Michele Dunne is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and editor of the online journal, the Arab Reform Bulletin.
A former specialist on Middle East affairs at the U.S. Department of State and White House, she served in assignments including the National Security Council staff, the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, and the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
Her research interests include Arab politics, political and economic reform, and U.S. policies in the Middle East. She holds a Ph.D. in Arabic language and literature from Georgetown University, where she is an adjunct professor of Arab Studies.
Marc Lynch is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Williams College.
Lynch is the author of Voices of the New Arab Public and State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan's Identity. His articles have appeared in The Wilson Quarterly, Foreign Affairs, and the Middle East Report; and, he maintains the Abu Aardvark blog, a widely read running commentary on the Arab media, American public diplomacy, and Arab popular culture.
Stephen McInerney serves as POMED's Director for Legislative Affairs and Editor of the POMED Wire blog. He has more than six years experience in the region, including graduate studies of Middle Eastern politics, history, and the Arabic language at the American University in Cairo and the American University of Beirut.
He has spoken on Middle East affairs before the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Network of Arab American Professionals, the WESPAC Foundation of New York, and with numerous media outlets including MSNBC and CBS News.
He originally developed an interest in the Middle East while teaching mathematics in Qatar after earning an M.S. in math from Stanford University.
Ambassador Nicholas Veliotes
Ambassador Nicholas A. Veliotes was born on Oct. 28, 1928 in Oakland, California. After service in the U.S. Army from 1946-1948 he attended the University of California at Berkeley and was awarded both a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree. He is married to the former Patricia Nolan who is a teacher, actress and musician. She is also a graduate of the University of California.
He received his commission in the Foreign Service of the United States in 1955 and served in a variety of posts in Vientiane, New Delhi, Rome and Naples. In 1969 he was selected as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Princeton University.
Ambassador Veliotes was Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State (1970-73), then served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Tel Aviv, returning to the Department of State as Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff (1976-77) and then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (1977-78).
He was Ambassador to Jordan (1978-81) and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (1981-84). He then served as Ambassador to Egypt until his retirement from the Foreign Service in April, 1986.
Ambassador Veliotes became President of the Association of American Publishers in May, 1986, and retired in June, 1997, as President Emeritus.
Ambassador Veliotes is a member of the Middle East Institute, the Council on Foreign Relation and the Veterans of Foreign Wars; he serves on the Boards of AMIDEAST and the American Academy of Diplomacy. Mrs. Veliotes is a member of the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association and the Screen Actors Guild.
George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch discusses the Egyptian crackdown on the independent press and bloggers.
This action led to the arrest of leading political reform activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim.
Lynch believes that "one of the worst things which we as democracy activists did was to encourage these young folks to take risks when we had no intention or ability to protect them from the consequences."