It is now seems inevitable that Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak will have to step down and go the way of Tunisia’s former President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In fact, the New York Times is reporting that Mubarak has stated that he will not run for re-election this coming September, effectively ending an era. Yesterday over one hundred thousand people flooded Cairo’s Tahir Square in a mass protest. Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has been forced to dismiss his government after days of protests there. Yemen has seen protests and now it is rumored that Morocco is trembling with anticipation of protests of its own.
The wave of demonstrations and protests currently overtaking the Arab world is indeed revolutionary. We are witnessing history in the making. Yet the simple fact is that things may not turn out to be for the better when it comes to the relationship the West has with the Arab world; a relationship (or, more accurately, a series of complex negotiations) already tension-filled and held with a great deal of suspicion on both sides. What happens over the next few weeks will change the course of those relationships and our own understanding of our place in the globalized, security-crazed world of the twenty-first century. The ripple effect of the events taking place in the Arab world will reach our shores sooner or later. We have already seen the stock market “pause.”
At the center of the storm is Egypt, perhaps the greatest ally the United States has in the so-called “War on Terror.” In my last post I stated that Egypt enjoyed the second highest amount of foreign aid from the United States just behind Israel. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is undoubtedly Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel. Moreover, Egypt has proven to be an essential ally in the war against al-Qaeda. Most of this is due to the lap dog of the United States government, Hosni Mubarak.
If I may put it somewhat indelicately, Mubarak has been the United States’ “bitch” for the last thirty years. Now that there is real trouble on the streets of Egypt, the United States government is abandoning him to his fate, all the way claiming that we are standing up for democracy and the people’s right to choose their leaders. Don’t get me wrong, Mubarak is as corrupt as they come, and it’s long past time for him to go, but does anyone remember the U.S. election of 2000? Moreover, Mubarak is on the U.S. payroll, and it seems to me that we are taking a hell of a gamble by abandoning him. Quite frankly, we cannot know what the future holds for Egypt or the rest of the Arab world. However, I do feel that we have used someone and are now turning our backs on that person. Mubarak’s interest (like most professional politicians in the United States and the rest of the world) is not, nor has it ever been, Egypt, it’s been Hosni Mubarak.
As Egypt goes, so the rest of the Arab world will follow. The puppet leaders put into place during the cold war by the United States and other Western countries are coming to the end of their tenure. President Obama has yet another crisis to add to his already long list of problems. While the spirit of revolution is in the air, we would do well to look at our own leaders who have been in power for such long periods of time.