Feb 4, 2011

American policy, dictatorship, Israel and Islam.

The latest news out of Egypt is that the United States is trying to negotiate President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, to be replaced by newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman.

What the United States seems to forget - or ignore - is that Suleiman was head of security under Mubarak, and oversaw the torture and mistreatment that made Mubarak's regime the object of ire across the Middle East. Replacing Mubarak with Suleiman would be like replacing Hitler with Goebbels and calling it a day. Very few Egyptians - or Arabs in general - will be satisfied with what will certainly be seen as unnecessary outside interference in Egyptian affairs.

The US certainly has its reasons for this positon, no matter how misguided it may seem. Mubarak kept his power by claiming to western powers that he was in legitimate control of Egypt, a country that he described as a powderkeg of militant Islamist extremism.

It is true that modern Islamism, which seeks to apply the principles of Islam to governance, flourished in Egypt in the 20th century. Born under British colonialism and growing under a puppet monarchy, Egyptian Islamists found themselves repressed and brutalized by the three successive dictatorships of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. This repression served to radicalize Islamists more than control them. In fact, it could be argued that the Egyptian dictators are responsible for the eventual birth of Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda. American support for these dictators, and for similarly repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Iranian Shah also galvanized Islamic opposition US. I would argue that the United States has been, in general, an enemy of democracy in the Middle East.

And why, you might ask, has the US maintained such a policy? Two reasons: energy politics and the protection of the state of Israel.

Now, for the same reason, the US government appears to be trying to prolong the life of the Egyptian regime any way it can. By doing so, they risk further alienating the democracy-hungry people of Egypt and the rest of the Muslim world. The sad thing is, even the Islamists that the US government frantically postures against are mostly pro-democratic, capitalist and peace-loving people, but because we as a country cannot overcome our collective Islamophobia, we may never adjust our policies.

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Keep it civil and pg-13, please.