touring with guide

Touring Cairo with Guide (LR: Hon.Larry LaRocco, Paul S. Ryan, Hon. Scott Klug)

Larry LaRocco, Former D-Idaho, House of Representatives is traveling with Former Congressman Scott Klug ( R-WI) and Paul S. Ryan, Senior Counsel, Campaign Legal Center, Washington. They have co-chaired for the past 3 years the Legislative Fellows Program from North Africa on behalf of the US Association of Former Members of Congress. The USAFMC is  partnernering with Legacy International. The Campaign Legal Center has made presentations to the incoming fellows from North Africa over the past few years on campaign laws in the US and how it affects the confidence in the election process.

He posts his in-depth and in-the-moment observations of the political situation in Egypt in his dispatch to the Idaho Statesmen website.

Some excerpts below:

“Today was spent in a series of meetings with political analysts, human rights activists, journalists, Speaker of the Shura Upper Council ( upper House ) and front line activists. As I write it’s Monday in Boise and Tuesday in Cairo. It was a non-stop day of back-to-back meetings and discussions. Our delegation probed hard for facts to sort through many fuzzy perceptions, theories and assumptions swirling throughout Egypt on the immediate and long term future of the country. We started connecting dots on some aspects of the country’s fate and failed to receive clear indications on others.”

touring egypt“It’s clear the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is failing in its leadership at the moment. It’s uncertain whether they will recover from stumbling out of the blocks after winning the elections, suspending the Parliament and blinking on leadership on the economy. Some describe the MB as good traders who have reached out to Turkey and China for imports but failed as business leaders to grow the economy. The business acumen was presented as a distinct plus to voters in the elections but the faltering economy leaves them open to widespread criticism. In today’s Egypt — “it’s the economy stupid.”

Anti Muslim Brotherhood sentiment is white hot among dissidents, opposing parties, secularists and human rights activists. These feelings are so strong that some believe the economy will collapse within 30 days leaving the Military to keep the peace and pick up the pieces. For some in the broadly defined opposition camp this is a desired outcome to oust the Muslim Brotherhood from their control of the country. As I listened to the searing statements from this side of the political spectrum it was akin to the theory “……we need to burn down the village to save it.” (Read complete article)

Having traveled to Egypt two years ago he comments in his article on the changes he is seeing in the Egyptian economy and the change in safety and security in Cairo from an almost zero crime rate to secretly held weapons and the change in “the majority of women with veils”.

“I have always felt extremely welcome in Egypt, an over-the-top hospitable country….My last trip to Egypt was after the revolution but before the presidential elections. That trip filled me with joy and hope that Egypt was on a solid trajectory on its transition to democracy. I should have known better. After all, our own democratic experiment is still a work in progress and the complexities of Egypt did not guarantee a smooth glide path.

Therefore, I am now on the ground in Cairo with a firmer grasp on reality and with some trepidation that things might be heading backwards.

I have never been in Egypt when so much was on the line for the future. There is a clear path forward and looking in a rear view mirror by all parties is a fools game. Egypt’s stability is in our country’s best interest. Most readers didn’t wake up this morning thinking about Egypt but it might get higher on our radar screens in short order. Egyptian leaders need to wake up to the fact that the last election didn’t mean a wholesale shift to create an strict Islamic nation. That train left the station a long time ago. In a country of 80 million people beset with economic problems some good old fashioned down-the-middle political actions are in order.

I can’t wait to find out more this week. We only scratched the surface today but it was fascinating.”