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Obama goes to Cairo

Egyptians may be in for a surprise when President Barack Obama visits next month to deliver on a campaign promise to speak directly to the Muslim world. Egyptians, for the most part, welcomed Obama’s election in November and celebrated his inauguration earlier this year. But the fierce war between Israel and Hamas that roared into mid-January seemed to temper Arab enthusiasm over Obama. Celebration gave way to a sense of urgency — the feeling that Obama would need to act quickly to help resolve the Arab-Israeli crisis.

A library with great expectations

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — It’s a collision of history and culture, where the sea crashes into the coast and Egypt’s storied past passes the baton on to its future. It’s a partnership of symbolism and functionality, a rare melting pot for Egypt’s stratified social structure. Welcome to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, known in English as the Library of Alexandria, a throwback to the ancient library that stood, experts say, only a couple of hundred yards from the library’s modern incarnation.

U.S. defense secretary Gates arrives in Cairo

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates landed in Cairo today, kicking off a regional tour aimed at reassuring key allies in the region about U.S. diplomatic overtures to Iran. Gates arrives here at a time in which fears are high over growing Iranian influence in the region. The Egyptian government last month arrested 25 men on the Sinai Peninsula, accusing them of being part of an Iranian-backed Hezbollah cell. The military continues to scour the Sinai for another 24 supposed militants it says are on the run.

A tale of two lovers

ABUSIR, Egypt — They are characters straight out of central casting. Kathleen Martinez, a soft-spoken camera-shy Dominican archaeologist, is the brain behind the operation. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s media-hungry leading archaeologist, is the publicity brawn, a modern day Indiana Jones who courts international media attention by donning his leather hat and scouring the Egyptian deserts for lost treasure. Together they may be on the verge of Egypt’s most important archeological discovery: the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Antony.

Cleopatra — the backstory

Anyone who’s worked as a reporter in Egypt long enough knows what it’s like to deal with Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, which oversees the country’s ancient sites. Hawass may be the most media-savvy politician in Egypt. And when he brings the media along for an event, he puts on a show.

Egyptians hung up on Bush

Egypt just can’t let go of Egypt. I thought surely that with the election and inauguration of Barack Obama, the Bush bashing would end. But even with Bush in his Lone Star exile, the people here have a lot to say about him — and little of it good.

Security watch Egypt: Another threat emerges

Earlier this month, the Egyptian government detained 49 people on the Sinai Peninsula, accusing them of being members of a Hezbollah cell determined to execute attacks on Egyptian soil. It’s a sensational accusation that might give further evidence to the rising cooperation between Islamist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood. It would also speak to continued tensions in the Arab world over Egypt’s relationship with Israel.

A World of Trouble, the sequel

BOSTON — As the global economic meltdown deepened two months ago, we wondered how the crisis was playing out — on the ground and in real time — in all corners of the world. So we set loose 20 correspondents in 20 countries — from high-fliers China and India, to economic powerhouses Japan and Brazil, to struggling economies across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. They came back with this depressing picture.

The great Suez slowdown

CAIRO — The Suez Canal has always meant more to Egyptians than the revenue it generates. Whether it was the construction of the canal in the mid-19th century, its nationalization in 1956 or the fact that it served as a battle site in the 1973 war against Israel, the canal, to many Egyptians, represents an important chapter in their land’s storied history.

The madness of George

NEW YORK — It's all out there now, in all its vivid madness. America's democracy, on "Justice Department" stationery, impaling us on the horns of our own sanctimony. Paragraph after paragraph of banal, mediocre legal prose, the work of the department's "Office of Legal Counsel" attorneys, who are now back in private practice (or on a federal bench).
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