It seems 40+ years and a lifetime of diplomatic headaches have not been enough to teach the West its lesson when dealing with uprisings and democracy in the Middle East.
In 1979, Iranians rose up against the repressive but stable rule of the shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. America and Europe felt it was in the best interests of everyone involved to move the shah out of the way and throw open the doors to Western-style democracy. What they did was lay the groundwork for the Islamic Revolution and the rise to power of an even more repressive regime that now threatens the entire region.
And they are repeating the same mistake in Egypt.
When the demonstrations first began in Cairo on January 25, they were led by a large group of students with a list of specific demands. Having himself clearly learned the lesson of the shah’s overthrow, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak subsequently agreed to most of those demands, most importantly the demand that this be his last term in office and that he not establish a dictatorial dynasty with his son taking over next.
A Christian source in Cairo (whose name is being withheld for his own safety) says the uprising should have died down then and there.
“As we followed the unfolding of events including the announced change in government and president Mubarak’s speech, we wondered why the international news media is focusing only on the thousands in Tahrir Square who are escalating their demands and refusing dialogue,” said the source.
According to this man, something changed in the uprising after the first few days, after Mubarak had already agreed to most of the reforms demanded by the original protestors.
“What is happening now has nothing to do with this original protest. What is happening right now is a conspiracy to topple Mubarak from outside the country,” he said. That change coincided with the more visible participation in the uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamic group with ties to extremists across the region.
But this Christian source suggested the situation is far more grave, and more methodical than just a handful of Brotherhood provocateurs entering the crowds.
“Only a few people (hundreds?) are still there from the original protesters,” he noted. “They have been slowly replaced by other highly organized groups that all carry the same model of cell phones and have the same blankets.”
There are even reports that these groups may not be Egyptians at all, with some eye witnesses saying they clearly do not speak Arabic with an Egyptian accent or in the local dialect.
“This is typical of the Muslim Brotherhood, and everybody on the streets of Cairo knows this. We heard people on the streets saying that the plot to take over the country is now clear,” revealed the source. “The escalation of violence…is because of this. Egyptians who love Egypt, the millions that took to the streets yesterday, want this to end.”
The West is afraid of the “Arab street” and is only being fed in that approach by the mainstream media. After all, violence and revolution make a much better story than compliance and smooth reform. In the meantime, average Egyptians like this Christian man and his family are ignored while the radical Islamists are given a global podium.
“Where are those, like myself, that want change and reform, but accept the changes that Mubarak is proposing, and want a peaceful transition through elections in September?” he wondered fruitlessly.
This man reported that over a million people had gathered last week in Cairo expressing acceptance of Mubarak’s proposed reforms and dialogue regarding the outstanding issues. And he said similar demonstrations had been held around the country. Over the weekend, the Mubarak government further complied with protestor demands when the old corrupt leaders of the president’s party all resigned.
“The cry of the people of Egypt is being totally ignored by the international news media,” he said, questioning, “Is this on purpose?”
If the Muslim Brotherhood does take over in Egypt (and it would do so by installing a sympathetic puppet like Mohammed ElBaradei), Israel would find itself direct neighbors with a new Islamic Republic that would dwarf the threat of Hizballah rule in Lebanon.
Israeli officials are furious at the way the US and Europe are handling the situation.
“I think the Americans still don’t realize the extent of the catastrophe into which they have pushed the Middle East,” Labor Party leader and former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio.
Ben-Eliezer slammed the Obama White House’s inability to learn from the past:
“We learn from history. We remember what was said when Carter proposed that the Shah of Iran give up nicely and allow Khomeini to take his place. In Gaza, too, when the Americans came in, they supervised the democratic elections [via which Hamas came into power]. If there are elections in Egypt the way the Americans want, I will be surprised if the Muslim Brotherhood does not win. This will be a new Middle East - radical, Islamic and extremist.”
Likud lawmaker Ayoub Kara told visiting Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee that “it needs to be understood that if the Egyptian government will fall, the Muslim Brotherhood will take its place.” Kara said that Obama should also be learning from the mistakes in Iraq, where an American-style democracy has led to a “saturation of terror.”
A leading columnist for Israel’s largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, was even harsher, blasting Obama “selling Mubarak for a pot of lentils,” and “not understanding the Middle East.”
“Our conclusion in Israel needs to be that the man sitting in the White House is liable to ‘sell’ us over night,” concluded the columnist. “The thought that the US might not stand by our side in the day of need causes chills. God help us.”
Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom lamented that the Obama Administration had actually missed a golden opportunity. Yatom told Israel Radio that the situation was ripe for pressure on Mubarak to finally implement real reform, but the US should have worked with the Egyptian leader, not pushed him out of the way and opened the door to chaos. Now, said Yatom, Washington is going to get someone they can’t work with at all.