CAIRO: Gamal Mubarak wrapped up his controversial visit to the United States this week where he participated in a number of meetings with US officials and experts addressing the global financial crisis and its effects on Egypt.
Mubarak also discussed bilateral relations between Egypt and the United States.
According to a statement published by America in Arabic news agency, Mubarak participated in a closed session last week that comprised a number of experts in Washington and was organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“He talked about Egyptian-American relations, political reform in Egypt and the relationship between civilians and the army, Jon Alterman, director of Middle East Program at the center, said in the statement.
“Although the visit is important we must give it its correct weight without exaggeration or underestimation; the relations between the two countries are very complicated and they can’t be changed by the visit of one person, Hassan Abu Taleb, an international relations researcher at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Daily News Egypt.
“The Americans have always considered Egypt an important player in the Arab-Israeli conflict and cooperated with them on this issue.
Last Wednesday, Mubarak participated in a roundtable on the “Intelligence Community and the Transition to the New Administration, organized by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mubarak also discussed measures adopted by Egypt to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis on the Egyptian economy and to maintain growth and employment rates.
Concerning US aid, Abu Taleb said that Mubarak had discussed a diversified aid package which would include programs that would help stabilize the Egyptian pound in the midst of the financial crisis.
“The visit aimed at conveying the party’s point of view regarding regional political issues as well as the bilateral relations between the two countries under the new developments that took place in the US, Mohamed Kamal, spokesperson of the ruling National Democratic Party told Daily News Egypt.
“We have nothing tangible now but the results of the visit will be discussed by higher committees at the party, he said.
Bi-monthly US magazine Foreign Policy quoted a Washington pro-democracy source who said Gamal’s trip had two purposes. “First, trying to lobby Congress against any sort of conditionality or earmarking in appropriations of US aid to Egypt. Second, he is also trying to feel out different audiences to get a sense of what kind of reception his father will receive when he comes next month, the magazine said.
“This is the month where the Arab world sees what the Obama administration approach to human rights and democratic reform in the Middle East will be, the magazine quoted its unnamed source as saying.
Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, secretary general of Al Wafd opposition party, said that Gamal Mubarak had visited the US as an NDP official, rather than the president’s son.
“Gamal is aiming at polishing Egypt’s image in front of the new American administration and exploring its policies in the coming period, Fakhry said in a conference entitled “Egypt – the role and the position.
“[Gamal] Mubarak, like any official in the NDP, has the right to visit Washington, but one should not overlook the fact that he is the likeliest heir to the Egyptian presidency, Hamdy Hassan, Muslim Brotherhood MP, said in a previous interview with Daily News Egypt.
“It is not an innocent visit, he said.
However, Mohamed Kamal said the visit should not be blown out of proportion.
“It was an individual visit with a request from the party, he said.
The Obama factor
In an interview with CNN during his visit, Gamal Mubarak said that he believes that President Obama is committed to reaching a resolution to the conflict in the Middle East.
“Despite the internal challenges, President Obama started addressing international issues as he sent an envoy along with his secretary of state to the region which is an unprecedented event in the last 20 years, he said.
“The Bush administration [ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict]; and when it decided to discuss the issue it was too late, he added.
“A two-state solution is the single, most applicable solution that will help achieve peace; during the last eight years, the Palestinian crisis hasn’t witnessed any progress, Gamal Mubarak said.
Gamal Mubarak also addressed normalizing relations with Israel, explaining the difficulty of bringing the Egyptian people on board, given the conditions in Palestine and the “massacres committed by Israel.
He also tackled Egypt’s relationship with Iran, saying there are deep differences in each country’s views. He said that based on previous experiences, the US should not resort to military force to achieve peace.
“There have always been ups and downs in the relations between the two countries [Egypt and the US] especially during the Bush administration, Abu Taleh said. “But there were groups in the US that wanted the relationship to continue; however, the Obama administration hasn’t drawn the lines for its policy yet.
In a meeting attended by Richard Haass, president of the council, and Middle East Envoy Tony Blair, Mubarak explained the strategies of the National Democratic Party – on which he serves as the assistant secretary-general – when dealing with regional issues.
“Dealing with regional issues must be based on settlements for the conflicts that rely on justice and international legitimacy, Mubarak, who is also the chairman of the NDP’s policies committee, said during the meeting.
“Priority must be given to putting the peace process back on track in order to establish a Palestinian state with its capital eastern Jerusalem as a permanent resolution to the Palestinian crisis, he added.
Mubarak also met with Senator John Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Howard Berman, Kerry’s counterpart in the House of Representatives.
Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement, “I don’t want to go into the substance of a private meeting [with Gamal Mubarak], but I can say that Mr Mubarak is highly intelligent and fully conversant in the issues affecting US-Egyptian relations and Middle East peace. He is a strong and sensible advocate of Middle East peace and of close cooperation with the United States.