What would Nasser do?

After keeping 400 humanitarians, $5m worth of aid and 148 vehicles stranded for over eight days, the Egyptian governmen

So, after keeping 400 humanitarians, $5m worth of aid and 148 vehicles stranded for over eight days, the Egyptian government has finally given the green light for the Viva Palestina aid convoy to dock in the port of Al-Arish.

Some of you will remember the last convoy organised by Viva Palestina, which was forced to travel from Jordan to Syria when the Egyptians insisted they would not grant it access unless it docked in Al-Arish. Well, this time, the organisers did exactly what Cairo requested – they went straight to Syria and requested permission to go through Egypt to the besieged Gaza strip.

Yet the Egyptian government still refused them entry for over a week.

The reason for the initial rejection? There wasn’t one.

For many, it’s baffling how, in the space of 40 years, Egypt’s role in the Arab world has transformed from guardian of pan-Arabism to the subject of ridicule amongst  its people.

Today’s Egypt is a far cry from the mighty nation that helped Algeria gain its independence, sacrificed immeasurably for the Palestinian people, tried to unite the Arab world through Damascus and, above all, stood firm in the face of British, French and American imperialism.

Instead, its government has now reduced the country’s role so much that in order to impress some sort of false leadership, the state run media has to Photoshop and alter pictures of its ailing leader.

I wonder how powerful Mubarak felt when he saw himself leading Barack Obama and Bibi Netanyahu!

Egypt was once ruled by a president who believed his country’s strength came from that of the region, that the only way his people could feel safe and secure was if all the Arab peoples did too. It was once governed by an idea that so long as a single metre of Arab land was occupied then no Arab was truly free.

Today however, it is ruled by a government so unpopular, so out of touch with its people that the moment the president’s health was at risk and he was whisked away to Germany, 40 of his most powerful allies fled the country.

The Egyptian government claims that allowing aid convoys to enter through its land is a matter of national security and state sovereignty.

I’m not sure how convoys loaded with medicine, school materials and incubators threaten Egypt’s national security.

Many people do know, however, how a nuclear armed Israel is a threat to Egypt’s national security. Many are aware of how Israel – a country which has occupied every single one of its neighbours – poses the biggest threat to Egypt’s state sovereignty.

I’m sure those people are also aware just how dangerous a divided Sudan is to Cairo’s stability.

Yet, despite these deafening alarm bells on Egypt’s southern and eastern borders, its government is more concerned with allowing or disallowing an aid convoy to enter.

It was still more concerned with where a summit calling for the end of the war on Gaza was held, rather than the fact that the war itself was declared from its own soil by Israel’s then foreign minister.

The organisers of the Viva Palestina convoy tell me they will drape their ships in Egyptian flags, the participants will wave the red black and white high in the sky as they dock in Al-Arish. They tell me this will be a message to the Egyptian people that despite their government’s actions, they still view them as their brothers.

I wonder what will be the response of the Egyptian people. I’m sure many will be asking themselves, what would Nasser do?