February 12, 2011

The Egyptian Dilemma

The Egyptian regime change was constantly on the news the last few weeks. The people of Egypt were tired of president Mubarak who ruled the country like a dictator for 30 years. The uprising seemed to have blown over from Tunisia with the recent ousting of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. That aspect alone, a people's revolt, in two Islamic countries and in quick succession is remarkable by itself. These regimes lasted for decades and were brutal to its own people. There's another aspect which stands out even more if you ask me.

In the media, especially in the U.S. but also in Europe, Mubarak was quickly dropped as a good choice for the people of Egypt. The media is full right now with segments where political analysts state that the country should move towards freedom and democracy. Not unsound advice mind you, but why is this so out of the ordinary? Well, because often those same political analysts you see in the news right now supported Mubarak for many years. There's definitely some hypocrisy involved here. Mubarak was supported by the U.S. because of his willingness to accept and make peace with the state of Israel and because of the clamp down on (religious) extremists elements in his own country.

Mubarak was considered an ally in the geopolitical arena for decades, yet right now he's dropped like a bad habit. Also interesting to note are the weapon sales to Egypt, both the Egyptian Air Force and Army are largely equipped with American military hardware. Such deliveries can only come with the approval of the U.S. government. Should this large weapons inventory fall into the hands of more extremist elements after the regime change the U.S. and Israel would have a major problem. What's most remarkable is how the media currently harps the freedom and democracy tune while they hardly reflect on the support Mubarak had for decades. If Egypt will reach a state of democracy is anyone's guess.

It's not unreasonable to assume that politicians and intelligence services in countries outside Egypt are very concerned about the situation. History has shown that security and stability takes precedent over freedom and democracy. You just have to recognize the ugly truth, the U.S. has always done business with dictators as long as it was in their interest. Freedom and democracy were of little concern in places like Chili, Iraq, Argentina and Egypt. When dictators like Samuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein stopped playing ball it became a different matter altogether. How the Egyptian dilemma is going to play out is still uncertain. My guess is that the military will still hold a major influence over domestic policies and will continue to have the support of outside sources even if the country attains more democracy.

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