Friday, February 09, 2007

More News on Ayman Nour

The news doesn't get better about Ayman Nour, jailed former presidential candidate. I talked with family members today, and it appears a judicial decision has come down denying his request for release on health concerns. The decision seems to ensure that barring any presidential action, he will serve his full five years in jail.

His health condition is such that he may not be able to serve all of it. According to family members, his diabetes is out of control, he's not getting proper medication, his eye sight is failing and he has diabetic ulcers on his feet that may require amputation. His family is distraught at the latest turn.

The case is frustrating because it is one instance where the U.S. government has done all the right things, essentially, from presidential statements, to state department statements to congressional calls for action. Here's an old Washington Post clip that recalls this.

But none of this has been effective. It's a reminder of what a tricky thing leverage is -- despite all of the foreign aid the U.S. gives Egypt, it doesn't always translate into real leverage. The Mubarak government never feels compelled to do something that it doesn't see as being in its best interest. Leverage is something far trickier, and it may end up that the Egyptians think it's in our own interest to give them the aid, to keep them on our side.

And of course, it's a reminder that even if you do the right thing, if you're not keeping to a single standard, it may all come to naught. Unlike other kinds of leverage, human rights or other kind of ethical and moral persuasion requires a consistency in policy and action.


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