What are the Egyptians waiting for from Biden’s Democracy Summit?

Egyptian opponents hope that the Global Democracy Summit called for by US President Joe Biden will be the beginning of even partial changes in Egypt’s political and human rights scene.

While the US administration has not set a date for the summit, which Biden decided to be during his first year in office, Egyptian opposition leaders hope that the summit is a sign of the US administration’s willingness to secure freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Egyptian opposition figures demand that Washington give up support for dictatorships and tyrannical regimes, criminalise coups, and look into the future of political, social, and economic security for the region’s peoples and pay attention to the issue of social justice and the rights of the marginalised.

Ibrahim Mounir, deputy guide of the Brotherhood, says, “The group is open to everyone and is ready for dialogue with anyone who is on the side of democracy and the right of people to own their freedom.” He adds, “We want this approach to rule the whole world, including our region, and we certainly demand it for our region as we ask it for all people of the world.” Mounir continues that if there is a tendency from the new US administration towards supporting democracy and freedoms and giving people their rights to choose whoever represents them, then we welcome this approach. We will not delay any invitation to attend such important conferences and express our opinion and perceptions about them.

Regarding the hopes and expectations of Biden’s summit, Mounir hopes that this summit will be actually held under the stated goals. He adds that “there is no clear confirmation that the summit will take place, with the participation of personalities from all over the world, and bypass the ruling regimes in the region, and I imagine that they may be excluded.” Mounir continues that the hopes arising from this summit, if realised, will be good for our people and the people of the world, stressing that the previous Western and American policies towards the region are wrong and that the mentality of those who ran them in the past did not understand what is happening in the region and its future. He refers to one of the results of that incorrect policy, which is the Russian presence in more than one place in the region.

The head of the Union of Egyptian National Forces, Ayman Nour, affirms that the democracy summit should not only expand to countries but the correct representation of civil organisations and intermediary organisations such as political parties and currents concerned with the issue of transition to democracy. Nour announced the participation of his Ghad al-Thawra party in this summit, if invited, indicating that he is inclined to the decision of the Union of National Forces, as well. Nour draws attention to his memories of the Democracy Summit held in 2007 during the era of former President George Bush, who wished during his speech the participation of Ayman Nour, who was under arrest at the time and detained in the prisons of the late President Hosni Mubarak.

Nour stresses that the summit indicates the right direction that Washington must take after years of relapse in democratic values and principles. He adds that holding this summit is a form of apology and a retreat from former President Donald Trump’s policies, which supported all the authoritarian regimes that injected the world with tyranny and violence. Its impact extended to the United States itself.

For his part, a member of the political bureau of the April 6 Youth Movement, Khaled Ismail, says that the movement has not yet discussed the decision to participate if it is invited, adding: “But this will be the subject of discussion within the political bureau at the time.” He clarifies that the most prominent issues that the summit should raise are detainees of all affiliations, social justice, and the marginalised rights, ensuring the peaceful transfer of power while criminalising coups, in addition to freedom of opinion and expression. Ismail continues that expectations from the summit depend on how Washington deals with the countries it is seen as allies. He wonders: “How much pressure can President Biden exert on his Arab allies, as the US administration is well aware that they are indispensable for the success of its goals in the Middle East.”

Ismail expects that the Egyptian regime will make concessions by releasing some detainees and limiting forced detention, considering that these measures – despite their limitations – will partially make a breakthrough, but will remain far from the state of change for which thousands have paid their lives, in addition to tens of thousands who have lost their freedom or forcibly left their homes.