18 February, 2009

Ayman Nour's unexpected release

A few months ago the party headquarters of Hizb Al-Ghad in downtown Cairo was attacked and burnt by thugs led by the "pro-government" faction of Mustafa Moussa, while security forces stood back and watched. Then, just a week ago, the administrative court reversed a decision that had placed Moussa in control of the party. And today, Nour was unexpectedly released.

Not surprinsingly these sudden developments has led to speculations in media and blogs that Nour's release was "a gesture of goodwill to the Obama administration." Zeinobia writes: "The Washington Post was speaking from two days ago that Mubarak wanted to meet with Obama in the first 100 days and the White House put some conditions : The Release of Ayman Nour and the Return of Saad El-Din Ibrahim."

It's possible. Adding my own wild conspiracy theories to the speculations, I can't help but wonder if there is any relation between the release of Nour and the probable detention by state security of a party activist last week. Was the "disappearance" of Hossam Shahata some kind of revenge for the administrative court decision? Or a signal that even as Nour is released in order to appease Obama and easen the pressures for "reform", the security apparatus will persist in it's harassment of party activists in order to prevent al-Ghad from capitalizing on Nours release to broaden it's support base? Or (most likely) was the kidnapping just "business as usual," part of the daily routine repression that Obama is now going to ignore because one of thousands of political prisoners was released?

Update: More on Hossam Shahata.

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