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.
Posts tagged: Mubarak
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.
Two paragraphs from The New York Times capture the conundrum that is the U.S.’s current policy in Egypt, a policy advocated by realist foreign policy experts. The first quotes an Egyptian with dual citizenship:
“I brought my American passport today in case I die today,” said Marwan Mossaad, 33, a graduate student of architecture with dual Egyptian-American citizenship. “I want the American people to know that they are supporting one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and Americans are also dying for it.”
The second refers to a report in Haaretz, an Israeli daily:
Jerusalem was also reported to have called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to mute criticism of Mr. Mubarak to preserve stability in the region, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
The Times follows that with a rejoinder from a unnamed Israeli official, a rejoinder that essentially–though maybe unintentionally–supported the Haaretz report:
But an Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity following diplomatic protocol, said that the Haaretz report did not reflect the position of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu spoke cautiously in his first public remarks on the situation in Egypt, telling his cabinet that the Israeli government’s efforts were “designed to continue and maintain stability and security in our region.”
“I remind you that the peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades, and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue,” the prime minister said on Sunday as Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition united around a prominent government critic in hopes of negotiating with the Army for Mr. Mubarak’s departure.
And there you have it: The U.S. has been supporting a very oppressive regime, and that regime is supposedly essential to stability in the region. My question for the realists is and always has been: In the long run, is supporting oppressive regimes in the pursuit of stability the best way to achieve stability? I think not; to wit: the Philippines (Marcos), Iran (the Shah), Iraq (Saddam), and now Egypt (Mubarak)–and that’s just off the top of my head.
There is no long-term stability without freedom, and there is no freedom without democracy. The people must be sovereign.
The Working Group on Egypt, a group of foreign policy experts brought together by Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, sent a letter to Secretary Clinton April 7, 2010, encouraging her to promote democratic reform in Egypt “in advance of the upcoming . . . parliamentary elections [in 2010] and a presidential election in 2011 . . .”
To me the nut paragraph–the paragraph that virtually jumped off the page–was this one and especially the first sentence (bolded emphasis mine):
The choice is not between a stable and predictable but undemocratic Egypt on the one hand, and dangerous instability and extremism on the other. There is now an opportunity to support gradual, responsible democratic reform. But the longer the United States and the world wait to support democratic institutions and responsible political change in Egypt, the longer the public voice will be stifled and the harder it will be to reverse a dangerous trend. Already there are signs that the Egyptian government plans to restrict opposition candidacies and civil society monitoring of the elections.
Secretary Clinton quickly responded. In a letter dated April 10, 2010, she wrote:
The United States supports free, fair, and transparent elections in Egypt as in any part of the world. Although the decision of who will run in or win the elections belongs to the Egyptian people alone, we have consistently encouraged the Egyptian government to adopt further political reforms to open political processes to wider participation and representation. We also believe it is important for Egypt to expand public discourse and relax restrictions on NGOs, political parties, journalists, and bloggers. Such action would increase the space for greater political participation and lead to greater transparency in Egypt’s electoral process.
Senior Administration officials have engaged with the Government of Egypt in an ongoing, important dialogue with Egyptian civil society representatives and NGOs who share the desire for political reform and expanded democratic participation in Egypt. This Administration values its dialogue on these issues.
A month later, the Working Group wrote again, emphasizing the need to act now and to persuade Mubarak to “lift the state of emergency now, as the critical election period begins.”
That was then, now is now. Egypt is in an uproar, many of its citizens having taken to the streets. Today the Working Group issued a statement that, among other things, asked the Obama administration to press the Egyptian government to “publicly declare that Hosni Mubarak will agree not to run for re-election,” and for the administration to “suspend all economic and military assistance to Egypt until “the government accepts and implements these [and other] measures.”
According Laura Rozen at Politico, Kagan, has not been impressed with the Obama administration’s efforts:
“We are paying the price for the fact that the administration has been at least of two minds on this stuff, and we should have seen it coming,” said Robert Kagan, co-chair of the bipartisan Egypt working group, regarding what many analysts now say is the inevitable end of Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year reign as Egypt’s president.
Though the Obama administration has tried to look like it’s not picking sides in urging restraint from violence amid five days of Egyptian unrest calling for Mubarak to step down, “the U.S. can’t be seen as neutral when it’s giving a billion and a half dollars” to prop up the Mubarak regime, Kagan said.
I’m just getting up to speed on what’s happening in Egypt. In any case, I am not an expert on Egypt–or even the Middle East. Nevertheless, I’ve been concerned about Mubarak for a long time. I’ve been equally concerned that the Realists don’t get it: long term, guys like Mubarak are not good for their people–a given–and not good for the United States. We should have been encouraging him to retire a long time ago. We shouldn’t be supporting him now.
The problem isn’t the Egyptian government–though it’s certainly part of the problem. The problem is Mubarak and has been for 30 years. Just guessing here, but his people don’t want him to appoint another government, they would like a hand in the appointing. Legitimate governments govern by the consent of the people. Point. Game. Set. Match.