If you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have heard that there is a democratic revolt going on in Egypt. Timeline here:
Mubarak has been the tyrant of Egypt for thirty years. Mubarak is supported by the US because he has kept peace with Israel and the Israeli lobby in American politics is rather strong. The US sends billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt every year and gives it miitary support as well. Egypt’s military uses American made hardware. They drive M1 Abrams tanks and fly F-16 fighter jets.
Unsurprisingly, the US response to democratic aspirations in Egypt has been luke warm at best. This appears to be motivated purely by self interest. The US government would prefer Mubarak remain in power because Mubarak does what we tell him to do. If Mubarak is thrown out of power, then whatever democratic government emerges in Egypt might make the people of Egypt the priority of the Egyptian government rather than prioritizing the wishes of those in Washington D.C.
So, basically, the politicians in Washington would rather have a dictator puppet who abuses his population rather than have a democratic Egypt who might not listen to the US.
It is my humble opinion that this is short-sighted, selfish, idiocy at its worst.
America should support democracy, end of story. And attempts to keep puppet dictators in power at the expense of the local population has repeatedly backfired on America. The Iranian REvolution that overthrew the American puppet dictator the Shah being the textbook example. The problem seems to be that no one ever reads the textbook and instead go with their “gut” or other idiocy.
A democratic Egypt, brought about with strong support from America, would bring stability to Egypt and could be a friend of America. A democratic Egypt, brought about by the people of Egypt overcoming interference from the American government trying to stop them, will only delay the inevitable switch to democracy but will result in creating a people who resent America for keeping them under tyranny.
As for the players involved, Mubarak needs to step down immediately or blood is eventually going to flow all over Egypt. He seems to be dragging his feet saying he will hold on to power until the elections in September. Which signals that he is completely out of touch with what is happening in the streets. The people in the streets are not going to wait until September and trust that Mubarak will step down. Mubarak has won every “democratic election” in Egypt for the last thirty years. (hint, because Mubarak cheats.)
He has a history proving he is untrustworthy. And now he is telling his people “trust me, I will step down in September”. To which the people of Egypt are rightly saying “Hell no”
AlBaradei: AlBaradei is one of the opposition leaders. He was also the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog group. I have a good feeling about him. He’s very smart and seems to be driven by objectiveness rather than self interest at the expense of everyone else and rather than some dogmatic value system.
Omar Suleiman: The head of Egyptian intelligence. He worked intimately with the CIA in helping American spies torture prisoners in America’s rendition/torture program. D.C. would obviously love to have him in power as he has shown a willingness to do the dirty-work of American interests. The fact that he so willingly tortures people for America (and if reports are to be believed, he also tortures Egyptians to maintain his own power and that of Mubarak), is a massive red flag that this guy shouldn’t be trusted to do what is in the best interest of the Egyptian people.
The Muslim Brotherhood: This is an organization that has been around for not quite a century. They generally oppose violent measures. Osama Bin Laden condemned them for being non-violent. Several splinter groups have left the Muslim Brotherhood to form new organizations because MB wasn’t violent enough for them.
And yet in America, they seem to be portrayed as the boogeyman. I assume this is partly religious prejudice on the part of the West, and partly a fear that a strong democracy in Egypt is a democracy that cannot be made a puppet.
One problem right now is that the democratic revolt really has no leaders of any sort. This whole thing could collapse into being nothing more than changing the name of which thug runs the country. Only if the democratic aspirations can be represented politically, by leaders strong enough to stand up to thugs like Mubarak and Suleiman, will real democracy have any chance of surving the next few months.
My hope would be a strong, diverse group of leaders form some kind of transitional government. Bring in AlBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood. Odds are that Sulieman and several of Mubarak’s thugs are going to try to hold on to some power, so they will have to be tolerated for a while longer. But then create a constitution which supports real democratic reform, get rid of the thugs through real elections, and maybe the people of Egypt will have a government that looks out for their best interests.
Mubarak still hasn’t stepped down and is still holding on for September, so I’m not entirely convinced this won’t yet result in some kind of Tiananmen Square crackdown and blackout. But right now, there is still hope for democracy in Egypt.