Some Things Never Change In Egypt

Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, seems to be taking a page from his predecessor's playbook.

You may recall that Hosni Mubarak celebrated what proved to be his last election as Egypt's president by tossing his opponent in jail on trumped up charges.

Ayman Nour finished a very distant second in the 2009 vote but that didn't deter Mubarak, who was overthrown last year in a public uprising that was soon taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood following a brief period of military rule.

Nour had the temerity to demand a new election, charging the rigged election had been rigged.  He was quickly charged with forgery, convicted and sentenced to five years at hard labor.  Bush administration protests were mild and shrugged off, not to be raised again.

It's déjà vu all over again as the man who came in second in this year's presidential election, Ahmed Shafiq, may suffer the same fate.

Right after it was announced in June that Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, had won the two-man runoff, Shafiq fled the country.

Shafiq, who was Mubarak's last prime minister, said this week he plans to return to Egypt, even if it means being arrested, Reuters reported. The Morsi government has accused him of corruption in connection with a land deal involving Mubarak's sons, who are already in prison on related charges.  A judge has said Shafiq is on a "watch list" and would be detained upon his return. Now living in Dubai, he called the charges baseless and politically motivated.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Egypt's next free presidential election.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.