Saturday, February 5, 2011
Another take on the revolution in Egypt...
By Michael Collins Piper
If there is anything that can be said about the crisis in Egypt—which is reverberating throughout the Middle East—it is that it is ultimately open to multiple interpretations. Any “expert” who purports to give you “the last word” on the topic is deceiving you and perhaps himself. Geopolitical strategists, armchair pundits and conspiracy theory devotees are competing to tell the world “what’s really happening and why,” but there is no single truth to the matter.
First of all, consider the issue of popular unrest in Egypt. All serious evidence indicates Hosni Mubarak’s regime has sustained itself through force and oppression and, not surprisingly, support from the Egyptian military. In addition, Mubarak has maintained a close relationship with the United States and, thus, with Israel, with which Egypt entered a controversial peace agreement in 1979 that remains in effect today.
These factors have preserved Mubarak’s rule—at least until now.
However, within Egypt, there has long been widespread discontent among a variety of domestic sources, ranging from Islamic fundamentalists in the Muslim Brotherhood to more “Western”-oriented young people to working families struggling to pay food bills.
So while there is breadth and apparent depth to the opposition, the critics of Mubarak are by no means united across a wide range of issues. However, the economic turmoil plaguing Egypt in recent months seems to have been a critical factor in helping spark the rebellion.
In short, to suggest that the Egyptian rebellion was orchestrated solely by the United States and/or Israel would ignore genuine grassroots Egyptian concerns.
Israel and the American supporters of Israel know that many Egyptians of all political stripes and religious persuasions have never been comfortable with the U.S.-Israeli-Egyptian relationship and that an element of Egyptian opposition to the Mubarak regime has been its cozy concert with Israel.
As a consequence of this, many pro-Israeli elements are taking a firm stand against “democracy” in Egypt precisely because they fear a popularly elected regime replacing Mubarak could be hostile to Israel, no matter what the new regime’s religious flavor—if any at all.
Note, too, that one of the leading critics of the Mubarak regime is Nobel Prize-winning former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei. Supporters of Israel consider ElBaradei to be problematic because he was a critic of the Bush administration’s campaign against Saddam Hussein of Iraq, raising questions about Bush claims that Saddam was engaged in building nuclear weapons. Likewise, ElBaradei has stood in the way of Israeli and American efforts to provoke a confrontation with Iran over its efforts to engage in nuclear development.
However, there are more than a few observers who perceive ElBaradei as a ubiquitous double-dealer whose agenda is uncertain In the meantime, despite all of this, it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Israel could stand to benefit from turmoil in Egypt. The average observer might find this difficult to understand.