Posts tagged: Egypt
Slate’s John Dickerson weighs in on Obama’s performance in the events leading up to Mubarak’s ouster, and he rips a page out of Thomas Friedman’s playbook.
As Dickerson writes in a piece titled Was Obama Too Indecisive on Egypt?
Or did his refusal to meddle actually speed Mubarak’s fall?,
Whether by design or dithering, U.S. policy makers didn’t get in the way of events in Cairo. That strategy appears to have been successful. That may mean that in a world where developments can move so quickly, TBD is the new SOP.
Dickerson’s piece is more nuanced than the conclusion, and he does take some shots at the administration’s handling of the crisis; nevertheless, he comes off as making excuses for the President’s handling of the matter. I just hope he didn’t feel a tingle running up his leg as events unfolded.
Summer 2009, I wrote a series of posts about the coup (or not to coup) in Honduras. I’ve kind of lost track of whether the Obama administration finally declared that what happened down there was a coup or not.
That said, I have not forgotten that the administration opposed what happened and actively campaigned for the return of Manuel Zelaya to power, even though that country’s Congress and Supreme Court approved his approval. In short, what appeared, at least to me, to be a constitutional transfer of power by constitutionally constituted bodies–a transfer necessitated by the fear that Zelaya was attempting to become the region’s next Chavez–was some sort of coup to our administration.
With this in mind, consider the news of the last few days out of Egypt: Mubarak surrendered power to the Egyptian military, which today dissolved parliament, suspended the nation’s constitution, and promised elections in 6 months–in what The New York Times reports the military called “a democratic transition.”
Now I support what is happening in Egypt. It appears at this point that the military is acting in harmony with the public’s will, justifying, in the military’s mind at least, its claim of a democratic transition. What I’m waiting for now is for the Obama administration to call this a coup.
What? They’re not going to do that?
Then why all the fuss over Honduras, where a democratically elected congress and the supreme court transferred power?
Critics of the Obama administration have questioned why he didn’t offer similar support for those who protested in Iran in 2009-2010. They should add Honduras to the list of inconsistencies.
Thomas Friedman offers some hopeful comments on Egypt in general and to those who suffer at the hands of “a lot of worried kings and autocrats . . . from North Africa to Burma to Beijing.” And, he continues,
it is not simply because a dictator has been brought down by his people. That has happened before. It is because the way it was done is so easy to emulate. What made this Egyptian democracy movement so powerful is its legitimacy.
It was started by youth and enabled by Facebook and Twitter. It was completely non-violent and only resorted to stone-throwing when faced with attacks by regime thugs. It drew on every segment of the Egyptian population. There was a huge flag in Tahrir Square today with a Muslim crescent moon and a Christian cross inside it. And most of all, it had no outside help.
Now, I agree with Friedman. And I, too, am hopeful. But I was hopeful for Iraq, and I’m worried that experiment tells us too much about what might happen in Egypt after the jubilation subsides and the work begins. Nevertheless, today I’m hopeful.
That said, I didn’t come to Friedman’s column expecting to agree with him. I came expecting to find something Friedmanesque. I was not disappointed. Immediately after the paragraphs I just quoted, Mr.Friedman lets loose this little gem of a paragraph:
In some ways, President Barack Obama did the Egyptian revolution a great favor by never fully endorsing it and never even getting his act together for how to deal with it. This meant in the end that Egyptians know they did this for themselves by themselves – with nothing but their own willpower, unity and creativity.
It’s good to know that some continue to think that our President Walks on water even when he’s in over his head.
And cedes power to the military. My wife thinks chaos will ensue. I’m more hopeful. Let’s pray I’m right, for Egypt’s sake. For Israel’s.
“Even Islamists have to eat,” and that doesn’t bode well for the whatever government assumes power as the result of the Egyptian revolution. So says David P. Goldman, aka Spengler.
Where’s a friend, when you need a someone to bash Republicans. Civility being the rage and all in the United States, you go to Egypt, which is what New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof did when he reached out to “an old friend in Cairo” to reassure him that Egypt would not fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood if Mubarak exited stage right. That woman,
a woman with Western tastes that include an occasional glass of whiskey, . . . thought for a moment and said: “Yes, possibly. But, from my point of view, in America the Republican Party is bad for peace as well.”
But don’t stop there Nick, go for the throat–in your very next sentence,
If democracy gains in the Middle East, there will be some demagogues, nationalists and jingoists, just as there are in America and Israel, and they may make diplomacy more complicated.
I think this is what is called a tri-fecta: 1.) use a mouthpiece to bash your least favorite political party, 2.) make sure that bashing includes equating the Republican party with the Muslim Brotherhood, 3.) then make sure to chime in that there are “demagogues, nationalists, and jingoists” in American, just like those horrible Muslim Brotherhood guys who are busy making “diplomacy more difficult” (for the anointed one, I suppose).
I support Israel, and I also support a foreign policy that would be more concerned with spreading democracy and freedom and less concerned with supporting corrupt and oppressive regimes in the name of stability. That said, I am not a foreign policy expert. And that said, I am in favor of Hosni Mubarak stepping down as quickly as possible, but no sooner than a transition plan is in place that would make it difficult or impossible for the Muslim Brotherhood to take power.
Muhammad Ghanem: Hosni Mubarak and his regime are over, but he does not know it. In the beginning, we said that we wanted Hosni Mubarak to go. Now, we say that Hosni Mubarak, his VP, and prime minister must go. Now there are three of them.
In addition, the commanders of the army are still going back and forth to America. The American position has changed, and we hope that the position of the military will change as well, but reality proves that Hosni Mubarak will not leave unless he is forced to, that Omar Suleiman is more dangerous than Hosni Mubarak, and that the appointed prime minister… They all come from the military, and they share the same interests. Like we say in Egyptian Arabic: They will not bite one another.
I don’t want to speak ill of anyone, but Hosni Mubarak will not hesitate to kill the entire Egyptian people in order to remain in power. This is a maneuver of which we must beware. Hosni Mubarak is trying to stabilize his position. He is in Sharm Al-Sheik, protected by the Zionists, by the state of Israel. There is a helicopter ready to fly him to Israel.
We do not take the situation lightly. The situation is difficult. The Egyptian people will not allow anyone to rob them of their revolution. This blessed revolution will not subside. As the Egyptians are chanting: “We will not go away. This is our country. Mubarak should go.”
As for the possible return of the security forces – this is inconceivable. If the people see members of the security forces, they will kill them all. These security forces are not part of the Egyptian people. Their allegiance lies with Hosni Mubarak.
I am absolutely certain that this revolution will not die, and that the next step must be one of civil disobedience. This civil disobedience will generate strife among the Egyptians. This disobedience must include halting passage through the Suez Canal, stopping the supply of petroleum and natural gas to Israel, and preparing for war with Israel.
And this, excerpts from a sermon in which Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammad Badi urges jihad against the Zionists and U.S. infidels:
“According to the Islamic shari’a that Allah [has bequeathed] to mankind, the status of the Muslims, compared to that of the infidel nations that arrogantly [disdain] his shari’a, is measured in a kind of scale, in which, when one side is in a state of superiority, the other is in a state of inferiority…
“Many Arab and Muslim regimes have not managed to build up their peoples, due to their weakness and their dependence [on the West], and in many cases they have begun to work against the interests of the [Muslim] nation… The lands of the Arabs and of Islam are now plagued with problems because [the Arabs] have lost their [strength of] will, leaving it to the Zionist enemies and their supporters. [The Arab and Muslim regimes] have forgotten, or are pretending to have forgotten, that the real enemy lying in wait for them is the Zionist entity. They are aiming their weapons against their own peoples, while avoiding any confrontation with these Zionists and achieving neither unity nor revival for their nations. Moreover, they are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for His sake with [their] money and [their] lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme and the infidels’ word will be inferior…
“Today the Muslims desperately need a mentality of honor and means of power [that will enable them] to confront global Zionism. [This movement] knows nothing but the language of force, so [the Muslims] must meet iron with iron, and winds with [even more powerful] storms. They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.“
Have I said that I’m not Islamophobic? I’m not. I am developing a phobia against the Muslim Brotherhood however.
For what it’s worth, I think the realist philosophy of foreign policy helped create this mess. Whenever I find myself advocating a more neoconservative policy, I have to remind myself that this mess wasn’t created in a day. It will take more than a few days, even years, to clean up. What bothers me is that innocent people suffer in the meantime.
What did Martin Luther King say? “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” The Egyptian people deserve true freedom and a democratic way of life. They may have to wait a bit longer to get it or lose it to the thugs who make up the Muslim Brotherhood. But what do I know?
Interesting op-ed in The New York Times by Tarek Masoud, an assistant professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Bottom line, he writes that Mubarak must stay in power for at least a little longer, so the Egyptian government can work its way towards the necessary reforms in accordance with Egypt’s constitution. As Masoud explains, the orderly transition that everyone, including the Obama administration is asking for
. . . requires that Mr. Mubarak stay on, but only for a short time, to initiate the election of an entirely new Parliament that could then amend all the power out of the presidency or even abolish it . . .
. . . the Egyptian Constitution . . . gives the power to dissolve Parliament and call new elections only to an elected president. Mr. Mubarak’s successor, as an acting president, would be specifically prohibited from getting the parliamentary elections under way. A new Parliament is crucial to democratic reform, because only Parliament has the power to defang the Egyptian presidency, stripping it of its dictatorial powers through constitutional amendment.
Interesting dilemma. Hope the demonstrators have read and understand their Constitution.