Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Egyptian question

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The news coming out of Cairo is not very encouraging. While we in America have been concerned about who is sitting next to each other in Congress during the State of the Union speech, there is a revolution that is under foot going on in Egypt that has all the markings of what recently occurred in Tunisia. The demonstrations were quelled by riot gear clad policemen, who fired on the crowds in the central square with water cannon, rubber bullets and clubs. The people demanding President Hosni Mubarak's resignation are not friendly to the United States and certainly will do nothing to bring Middle East peace closer to fruition. In fact, much of the gains that have been garnered in progress towards lasting peace between Egypt and Israel may be lost if the Islamists who are intent in overthrowing Mubarak succeed. Understandably, Israel must also be alarmed, but that nation has been dealing with hostile relations with Egypt for a very long time. Several commentators have noted recently that the miserable conditions existing in Egypt are breeding contempt for the government, particularly those among the young, impressionable students and young adults who see no way out for them in an economy with little growth. Were we to look at Tunisia as a precursor to the violence going on in Egypt, that would be too simplistic. The fact is the Tunisian government was so corrupt and guilty of brazen, outrageous behavior, particularly that played out by the now-ousted president and his wife, that it could not help but implode upon itself in a popular uprising. The opportunists in Egypt, many of whom are allied with interests outside of their country, are looking for any reason to remove Mubarak from office and attempt to install a form of government more friendly to Iran and Hezbollah. Look at what's going on in Lebanon with Hezbollah poised to take over the reins of government there and it's a potential nightmare for American diplomacy and the hope of a faint possibility of lasting peace. The unrest and protests have thus far brought about three deaths. That number can only go up higher as police units ramp up their more deadly approaches to dispersing the angry crowds demanding the president's resignation. I am reminded of Iran in the late 1970s and how their Islamic revolution occurred in a very short order with similar seemingly small protests that then grew out of hand. I pray I am wrong. Indeed, I pray I am very wrong.

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