Cairo (CNN)“Yes, we can!” an Egyptian friend bellowed over the phone to me after hearing Barack Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo.
I was here, in the Egyptian capital, to cover that speech. Almost ten years later I returned to cover another “keynote” speech by an American official — this time, by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In the intervening ten years, Egypt has come full circle. In 2011, a popular revolt ended the nearly 30-year-old sclerotic regime of Hosni Mubarak, followed by the country’s first and only democratic presidential election in Egypt’s 5000-year history. Then, a military coup and a bloody crackdown ensued. As many old friends and human rights organizations attest, the Egyptian state is far more oppressive than it was ten years ago.