Why Obama Isn't Enjoying The "Down With Mubarak" Chants In Egypt
An unwelcome resolution in the battle between the wills of the Egyptian people and President Hosni Mubarak threatens to radicalize America's greatest Arab ally in the Middle East into a nation that just might be willing to turn its back on American diplomacy.
In a grasping effort to remain in power, Mubarak has drastically reorganized his government to appease the people. His attempts have failed as the demonstrations continue to call for his resignation.
The instability of Egypt is not only a concern because it is the third revolutionary protest to hit the Middle East within the past month, but how its resolution could adversely affect the United States.
The Middle East has been a hotbed for religious and economic violence dating back to Biblical times. However, the anti-American sentiment is more recently entrenched by the United States' continued support of Israel.
As a result, Israel’s ability to push outward displaced many Arabs who took refuge in neighboring countries, including Egypt. Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar-Sadat, known for participating in the Camp David Accords of 1978 to solve the Egypt-Israeli Conflict, radicalized right-wing extremists. In 1981, a group of extremists assassinated Sadat for his policies towards Israel and pro-American policies.
Since then, Mubarak has lead an authoritarian government receiving military and economic aid from the United States to help manage the poverty and maintain stability in the region. As such, Egypt has been among the United States' greatest allies in an area where there are very few.
With an unforeseeable future ahead, the situation in Egypt presents a difficult dilemma for United State foreign policy. Either continue support of a thirty-year dictator or support a democratic protest seeking to overthrow an American-friendly leader. The difficulty comes with who would replace Mubarak, and would that person continue the policies of a pro-West government?
The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization founded by fundamentalists, has since been accepted as the leading opposition party and has played a large role in organizing the current protests. The Muslim Brotherhood has been widely known for its anti-American and anti-West stances and has influenced such people as Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahir, the two leading Al-Qaeda officials.
There are inherent risks of continuing support to Mubarak. If he is overthrown, America will become an enemy to the newly installed regime. However, because of the economic crisis within Egypt, there is the issue of whether Egyptians are too dependent on the nearly $1.5 billion of financial aid annually America offers to sever the diplomatic relations with America.
There is little good to come of this issue for the West, which is already condemned for having turned the Middle East into a theater of war during the Cold War and continuing it today with forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. American presence and forced democratic principles are counter-productive to creating peaceful and trusting relations.
Obama, realizing the difficulty and severity of the situation, has remained silent besides cautioning Mubarak to follow through on his promises of change. The best potential outcome for America is a peaceful and stable solution that does not radicalize more Arabs for American interjection in the Middle East. It is imperative that the United States remain in the good-will of the most populated Arab nation as it not only benefits America, but it brings stability and leadership to an explosive region.
For more information on US-Egypt relations click here.
Reach Reporter Dylan Kornbluth here.