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Egypt’s Youth Coalition Snubs Clinton: Time to Grow Up and Move On

Mar 16, 2011

by

I read the news on a friend’s Facebook page (one of my primary sources of news and analysis out of Egypt these days), that a coalition of Egyptian youth groups had rejected an invitation to meet with U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Apparently, Clinton was being punished by the Coalition of the January 25 Revolution Youth which has spearheaded Egypt’s pro-democracy movement, for “her negative stance towards the revolution during its inception and the approach of the U.S. Administration towards the Middle East Region.”

In the first Mideast visit from a Cabinet-level member of the Obama administration since pro-democracy revolts swept across the region in January, Clinton plans to engage in talks with senior Egyptian officials, political activists, representatives of civil society as well as potential presidential candidates. But a prominent group of “Facebook activists” plan to sit this one out, it seems.

“Today, Egypt is rising,” Clinton said at a joint press conference with Egypt’s new foreign minister, Nabil el-Araby. “Om el-Donya (Egypt, the mother of the world), is now giving birth to democracy.”

In addition to providing praise and moral support to the Egyptian people during this transitional period, Clinton pledged a $90 million grant for "near-term" assistance to Egypt and discussed Congressional legislation aimed at establishing a U.S.-Egypt enterprise fund. Not a bad piece of public diplomacy.

But judging from some of the responses in the blogosphere to the Coalition’s stance, it seems no amount of goodwill gestures from the U.S. will make up for what is widely perceived as the administration’s missed opportunity at the outset of the revolution. And there's that not-so-small matter of Clinton's family friendship with the Mubaraks, which understandably doesn't sit well with many.

Some say that the U.S. Secretary of State's visit comes at an inopportune time, as the country prepares to vote on a constitutional referendum that will determine whether parliamentary and presidential elections can be held this summer. To which I say: Welcome to the real world, where people have to juggle multiple agendas, many of which are not their own.

While shunning the Secretary of State’s invitation might be viewed as admirable by some, it is counterproductive and perhaps even harmful to the Coalition’s long-term goals. Despite what many see as its diminishing influence in the region, the United States is nevertheless a key ally as Egypt rebuilds its future. And if the Youth Coalition plans to play a major role in this process, it must engage with those who openly support democratic reform. Having fought valiantly for freedom of expression, the Youth Coalition should appreciate the fact that shutting out those you disagree with is not sustainable.

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5 COMMENT(S)

Mabrouk for your first blog.

Mabrouk for your first blog. I concur with your concluding remarks. The Coalition should first and foremost, in its actions, keep the best interests of Egypt at heart and not be guided by feelings particularly that it is calling for the promotion of democratic values.

In my humble opinion, the

In my humble opinion, the youth proved to be combative rather than diplomatic. They could have listened and criticised the stance of the US vis a vis the revolution.

By having this dialogue, both sides would have learned a great deal from each other.

How could it be that the

How could it be that the youth of Egypt and other countries in the MidEast would not crave the ideals espoused by the USA when, for almost a decade, Radio Sawa (the "brain"child of Norman Pattiz, former member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors heading U.S. international broadcasting) has been wooing the youth with Britney Spears
(until she landed in rehab) and various & assorted hip-hoppers, rappers & rockers and now Lady Gaga? But wait, Sawa gave 10 minutes an hour for news & commentary. Little or nothing re: the Bill of Rights or economic freedoms or the dignity of man or history about our own Revolution. The once-powerful force of U.S. international broadcasting, TV & radio, has failed miserably in the MidEast where it could have been a positive vehicle for change, not on our terms, but on terms chosen by the countries to which we broadcast. Radio Sawa is a sad symbol of a missed opportunity to connect. I understand completely the disdain of the youth groups for empty conversation with our diplomatic leaders. Unfortunately, the cold shoulder is well-deserved. Let our program planners who dissolved VOA Arabic to supplant it with mindless rock now wring their hands and wonder what happened.

First Congrats for your

First Congrats for your article!

In order to be reasonable in judging we have to understand why?

USA has always supported Dictatorship Regimes in the entire region leaving a population of around 200-300M people in poverty and despair. USA interests are far from embracing democracy and freedom in the ME region for reasons we are all aware of. The double standard is what characterized USA foreign policy for years.

I respect Jan25 Youth decision which gives a very important signal to the world's super power. Youth in Egypt represent almost 40% of the population. though they maybe poor and not so fortunate in life, they have a clear vision on how to move forward in the future building a new Egypt. They refuse US control over Egypt. They want to build a new relationship that is based on mutual interests and respect, a relationship that meets the aspiration of Egyptian youth.

if Clinton's first comment on Jan25 Revolution was "We see the government in Egypt Stable", what was she expecting from them after they were faced with death and severe brutality.

Egypt is being liberated and our youth will resume their relationship with USA based on new foundation when we are totally free!!

What it is to be young and

What it is to be young and youthful! Wisdom comes with age...sometimes. I hope Hilary wasn't too upset about the snub. If I was her, I would put it down to the folly of youth.

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