Egypts Mubarak, as has been mentioned before, is now saying that the constitution will be changed to allow for multi party popular elections; more than one man will be allowed to run for president. Not bad. Mubarak said that the decision was rooted in his "full conviction of the need to consolidate efforts for more freedom and democracy." Note these two paragraphs in the
Washington Post story:
Mubaraks speech followed a decision this week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to cancel a visit to Egypt, a move attributed to the lack of reform initiatives there. Egypt had also jailed Ayman Nour, leader of a newly authorized political party and proponent of multi-candidate elections. The State Department criticized Nours Jan. 29 arrest and suggested that Mubarak had no intention of loosening his hold on power.
The United States provides Egypt with about $2 billion in annual foreign aid. Bush has singled out Egypt along with Saudi Arabia as ripe for reform. In his State of the Union address, Bush said that "Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East."
This is the New York Times story on the subject, and it notes that it is a "sea change." The region is "bubbling with expectations for political reform."
Note this good essay on the good news coming out of the Middle East by David Warren. Warren gives Bush a lot of credit. But do not miss his mentioning of the "boredom" factor among the young of the region: "Boredom is seriously underestimated as a motive cause in history. And among the more intelligent young, it is always potentially lethal."