Egypt and test of democracy

Posted: January 27, 2011 in middle east, opinion/news
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Things continue to get more and more volatile in Egypt. Egypt has had a long-term relationship with the US and has received Billions each year as a bribe to keep the peace with Israel US ally. Egypt has also been a dictatorship that Mubarek and his clan has ruled for 40 years and this rule has reflected poorly on the US.

There is no question that the Egyptian people deserve to be ruled by leaders of their own choice. There is also no question that repressive government is unjust. There have been plenty of strategic reasons to have a good relationship with Egypt (the Suez canal comes immediately to mind) no matter who rules it but the US will be making a large mistake if it backs a repressive regime vs the will of the people.

The big question remains unanswered. If Mubarek falls what replaces him? If it is another strong man then we are right back where we were waiting to see what bribe he wants to be friends and awaiting the next coup for his removal. That is actually the easy scenario.

If Egypt becomes an Islamic state than all bets are off and we can expect a new and exciting conventional war with Israel before the end of the decade.

The really interesting test is if he is removed by a popular revolt and an actual republic is created. How will a democratic Egypt act?

Will it open the border to Gaza? Will it keep the peace with Israel? With it cozy up to Iran? With it with information not controlled by the media find out the realities of Egyptian defeats at the hands of Israel and demand revenge? How will the Christians be treated? Will it be a place of sanctuary for jihadists?

It has been an axiom that democracies do not go to war with each other, but the Arab public has convinced itself that Israel is the center of all evil in the world. Arabs have been fed a steady stream of anti-Jewish propaganda and it would not it would not be a shock for a democratically elected Egypt to decide to “avenge the wrongs” they believe have been done against them and their brother Arabs. Remember the generation that was crushed by Israel in 72 is in their 60’s. Their grandchildren have been told stories of Egypt’s great victories. They do not know or understand what they would actually be getting into and likely wouldn’t believe us if we warned them.

That is the elephant in the room. Will an Egyptian democracy decide to wage a popular war against Israel and ignite the entire Middle East? Will they decide that the balance of power has changed enough for them to win? More importantly will Israel decide that Egypt is planning on doing such a thing and 1967 them to keep it from happening or even worse, will they with Iran about to go nuclear, Lebanon now under Hezbollah control and an unfriendly Egypt to the north finally decide that the Nuclear option’s time has now come?

This more than anything else is the big question. It is also why stopping Iran was so important. if Iran was neutralized and their nukes stopped then Israel would not have to fear an Egyptian attack as they could count on their traditional forces to crush them if they tried anything and an Egypt seeing a neutralized Iran would be less inclined to follow their example.

I hope and pray that this works out right in the end but I’m very afraid that our decision to play “kick the can” with Iranian nukes to avoid a small conflict may result in a larger, more deadly and more catastrophic war than we can dreamt of.

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