Is the Position Obama Took During the Recent Revolt in Egypt Helpful or Detrimental to the Middle East and to the United States?
We just witnessed and learned of one of the methods for changing a regime. But will the revolt eventually lead towards democracy – or theocracy – or a new dictatorship or maybe a kingdom, or colonialism? “Peaceful” as it has been called, the revolution showed such will and vehemence to stick to the goal which seems to have established beforehand and it is hard to believe that it was all spontaneous.
In reality what we saw was a small group of people who enflamed maybe less than 2% of the population of 82 million who persevered for 18 days and nights, creating an appearance of a majority of the total population. They have succeeded in forcing a powerful leader to leave Cairo, albeit without officially resigning as a president or signing any document in this regard. The military knows this fact very well as Mubarak is the head of the army, which so far remained loyal to him.
No one can tell which regime is the best for the human being. It depends whom you speak with. By looking everywhere in our world we can find different regimes. Every regime seems to be able to work with many other systems unless it is currently considered to be an enemy and even so, individuals and even companies find the way to circumvent the official position and to penetrate the enemy markets.
During WWII the Germans made a deal with the Soviet Union even as it was an enemy. Today, are we not doing business with China, which is not a democratic country nor an ally but a totalitarian regime? Necessity obliges every country to do business with different regimes as long as possible. Merchants and countries will always find a modus vivendi which defines the flexibility of commerce.
In reference to Egypt, suddenly the West and in particularly the United States have openly encouraged the Egyptians in their struggle to change Mubarak – with no new leader in view to replace this president - unless the protesters know their new leader and keep silence in order not to put him in danger. The US could not have openly pushed Mubarak to resign unless they knew who could be the next candidate and next regime. It is hard to believe that the Egyptian people gambled to remove Mubarak as president without knowing whom they preferred to be their next one. Mubarak was a general from the same army which enjoys high regards among the population. From now to September many events could take us by surprise. Only then we may know the true story.
We complain about the thirty years Mubarak stayed in power. But beforehand, neither the United States nor the European allied has ever complained about it. Everyone felt comfortable doing business with a military dictatorship regime. I wonder how the entire world didn’t know about what was going on in Egypt.
We should not forget that the United States is the one that encouraged Israel to sign the peace treaty with the Egyptian military machine. The irony is that even the Nobel Peace Prize committee had embraced the government of Egypt and awarded jointly to Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin the Nobel Peace Prize. At that time, no one complained about the government system.
Not every democracy is equal to the other. I believe that democracy depends on the people, their culture and their way of life. If in September the Egyptian people will elect a democratic system as their form of government, it is hard to imagine that the Egyptians will accept certain principles coming from Western cultures, that we take for granted, such as: “Men and women are created equal,” “Freedom of religion” as we see it here in the United States, and many other rules. The Egyptian democracy will look completely different from those we have in the United States or in Europe. Most Egyptians have spent the major part of their time in their country, under a different regime and far away from our culture and the way of life we are used to.
It is odd that the truth was hidden from the world, or that the lies were so persistent that they covered the truth. Sooner or later, the truth will emerge, as the Arabs use to say, ”The truth will emerge like olive oil on top of water.” I believe that many people wish to have a democracy in their country but we should be very careful not to repeat the same mistake, by doing what we did to Egypt. I am reminded of what the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said, “When you speak about ‘prompt,’ ‘immediate,’ ‘now,’ as if you were imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationships with the United States, you are imposing your will on him.”
After all, we are not the masters of the world to take the right of interfering in other countries’ business, nor to threaten allies with withholding the help that we are giving them, as we heard it repeatedly from our officials, as such words can touch the dignity of the people and turn them against us. Allies like the Saudis will now be cautious and distrustful towards us, and rightly so. It was disturbing to read that the Saudis will open the door to Iran, as a reaction to our treatment of Mubarak. If we seek to continue the friendship with the Arabs, we should be aware that dignity is their first priority and even if they dislike their leader, they feel indirectly insulted as we are touching their national Arab pride.
Copyright 2011 Emile Tubiana