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Egypt: goodbye Mubarak? « Previous | |Next »
February 1, 2011

It increasingly looks as if the Mubarak regime in Egypt is finished. The military's decision not to fire on the protesters, because their demands for political freedom were legitimate (eg., "freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody") may well be the tipping point.

BellSMubarak.jpg Steve Bell

Mubarak will try and hang on by avoiding political reform and trying to ensure a return to stability but the regime's legitimacy is gone. So its goodbye Mubarak as the revolt intensifies and Egypt's economy grinds to a halt.

Presumably, regime change in Egypt will send shockwaves across Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Libya and Syria as the Arab people resist domination through the extensive and systemic use of torture by the police and security services. Stephen Walt observes that:

Egypt is not a major oil producer like Saudi Arabia, so a shift in regime in Cairo will not imperil our vital interest in ensuring that Middle East oil continues to flow to world markets. By itself, in fact, Egypt isn't a critical strategic partner. .... the real reason the United States has backed Mubarak over the years is to preserve the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and to a lesser extent, because Mubarak shared U.S. concerns about Hamas and Iran. In other words, our support for Mubarak was directly linked to the "special relationship" with Israel, and the supposedly "strategic interest" involved was largely derivative of the U.S. commitment to support Israel at all costs.

A more democratic Egypt would be more critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and its refusal to accept a viable two-state solution. It will also be less willing to collude with U.S.-backed policies such as the counter-productive and cruel siege of Gaza.

The U.S., finds itself in the unenviable position of being a status quo power in a region where so many detest the status quo, wish to fight it, and may - or perhaps inevitably will - one day bring it crashing is still not sending a clear signal to the Egyptian people that the US support their democratic aspirations and that the US will no longer offer unqualified support to a post-colonial regime that systematically represses those aspirations.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:38 AM | | Comments (19)


Stable change in Egypt today can mean only a compromise with the Mubarak forces by way of slightly enlarging the ruling circle--eg, Omar Suleiman.WikiLeaks show that the new vice president-- Omar Suleiman-- was involved heavily in the US rendition of prisoners. That involved torture.

I wouldn't think that the protesters would want him as their new leader. That is a cosmetic change in which something changes so that everything stays the same.

I'm getting great entertainment watching the conservatives try to find a coherent response. They really are between a rock and a hard place; if they support the protesters and an Islamist government is formed, they will look right dills for assisting their sworn enemies. But if they don't support the protesters and a more-or-less democratic regime takes over, they also look like dills; especially when they have spent a year attacking Obama for not supporting Iranian protesters.

Confusing the picture even further, the Israelis want Mubarek to stay; and loyal devotion to Israel is an article of faith with the conservative nutjobs. Their heads must really be hurting with the effort of trying to find a nice snappy solution.

Thank you GST, for including the "realist" Stephen Walt article- it's very close to a proposition on the related Palestine-Israel issue I attempted to discuss at the "Scepticlawyer" blog a couple of weeks ago, that earned me a summary dismissal from that site, with the epitath "anti semite", ringing in this writer's ears in the wake.
Why are so few sites, even including many current affairs blogsites, so unwilling to discuss the Middle East with anything involving let alone approaching, actual honesty?

In the Guardian Slavoj Žižek says:

What cannot but strike the eye in the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt is the conspicuous absence of Muslim fundamentalism. In the best secular democratic tradition, people simply revolted against an oppressive regime, its corruption and poverty, and demanded freedom and economic hope. The cynical wisdom of western liberals, according to which, in Arab countries, genuine democratic sense is limited to narrow liberal elites while the vast majority can only be mobilised through religious fundamentalism or nationalism, has been proven wrong.

Re your comment

Why are so few sites, even including many current affairs blogsites, so unwilling to discuss the Middle East with anything involving let alone approaching, actual honesty?

This article by Soumaya Ghannoushi may help with an answer.

(Sighs) So am a radical left agitator running about like a mad thing with bombs under my Djellaba, like Carter?
Yes, I do feel better after reading it, I'd rather sit down for a brew of tea and a chat with someone relatively useful like Jimmy Carter, than five hundred Dick Cheneys.
First I'd heard of the Carter book, too. And from what a source..

Iranian officials and clerics are insisting Egypt's insurrection, and similar popular revolts across the Arab world, are inspired by Islamist political ideology and have their origin in the 1979 Iranian revolution that overthrew the late Shah.

This is spin. The common rallying cause in the revolt by the Egyptian people is democracy, not Islamism. The Tehran regime is increasingly fearful of an Egypt-style uprising there.

What Israelis dread is a replay of the Iranian revolution. They fear the Muslim Brotherhood will emerge victorious when democratic elections are held in Egypt.

That means Israel will face an encirclement: Hezbollah from the north (in Lebanon), Hamas from the west (in Gaza) and the Muslim Brotherhood from the south (in Sinai).

"The common rallying cause in the revolt by the Egyptian people is democracy..."

True enough. But I suspect there's a bunch of "minor" causes motivating people to various degrees. It's not different to the opposition to any authoritarian regime. Over the years, they've pissed of a lot of people in a lot of ways.

The Americans continue to think Mubarak remaining in power even for an “orderly transition” is acceptable to Egyptians. The “orderly transition” the Americans mainly appear interested in is to a new government that won’t upset the geopolitical status quo.

Mubarak has pledged to step down at the next election and pave the way for a new leader of the Arab world's largest country.

Whilst doing so he attacked those responsible for protests that had been "manipulated by political forces", caused mayhem and chaos and endangered the "stability of the nation".

It's unlikely that option will be acceptable to the Egyptian people. Though Mubarak is finally on his way out the regime he presided over for 30 years is still very much in power and will remain so until a new order can be established, optimally through free and fair elections. They will try and wait the protesters out and try to hijack the revolution.

Tony Blair reveals his true colours-- he has described Hosni Mubarak, the beleaguered Egyptian leader, as "immensely courageous and a force for good" and warned against a rush to elections that could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power. He said that the west was right to back Mubarak despite his authoritarian regime because he had maintained peace with Israel.

It is Bush and Blair who plunged Iraq and Afghanistan into a bloodbath of insecurity and chaos by grotesquely exaggerating the threat posed to them by the Muslim world.

A change to a democratic pluralist regime in Egypt, if it can be managed would be Iran's worst nightmare.

Do the existing powers that be in Israel and Iran share a common concern about the impact of reime change in Egypt?

The first spin off from Egypt is that the PM in Jordan has been sacked and a new appointed with a mandate for some sort of reform.

In a mass popular uprising of the sort now ongoing in Egypt, unity of the military and security forces, their backing for the ruler, and willingness to be ruthless, are key to a government remaining in power.

This requirement does not appear to be the case in Egypt

What do the neo-cons want the US to do re Mubarak?

I assume they would have preferred to see the Egyptian police and military kill and injure more peaceful demonstrators (rioters says Fox News) on the streets of a major Arab capital, on international satellite television, using U.S.-made weapons. That's what it would take for Mubarak to remain in power.

Oh, and bomb Iran asap if Mubarak is forced out.

Mubarak--- what does he offer Egyptians? Crumbling infrastructure, decaying socio-economic conditions, and utter fealty to the United States.

His mistakes.

From the Middle East Report Online:

Plan A for the Egyptian regime and the Obama administration was for Husni Mubarak to remain president of Egypt indefinitely. Plan A is obsolete.

Plan B for the regime and its backers in Washington is to ride out the uprising with their basic authoritarian prerogatives intact. Sulayman and his entourage intend to stage an “orderly, peaceful transition” (to use the Obama administration’s phrase) from the reign of one arbitrary autocrat to another, adorned with the trappings of more liberal democracy.They have offered up Mubarak as a sacrificial lamb.

The army, thus far, is solidly behind them, its protestations of sympathy with the people to the contrary.

And it should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood is NOT Hezbollah.

Muslim Brotherhood, has said it would put the Camp David accords to a referendum if came to power. If the Egyptian people feel that the terms of the treaty should be renegotiated, surely it's their choice.

Am almost tempted to draw a link between the Egyptian people and a referendum for the Camp David provisons, to the hope of many Australians that the all provisions of AUSFTA be open to public scrutiny and then a referendum held.