Some political analyst have said that the removal of Egyptian dictator President Hosni Mubarak would lead to the fall of the police state and result in chaos – which would be exploited by Egypt’s jihadi groups that have long been brutally suppressed by the Mubarak regime. Washington also fears that the ousting of Mubarak could result in an ant-American, anti-Isreali regime.
While these concerns are legitimate, Washington need not fear because Egypt’s only properly organized mass political movement outside the ruling party is the Muslim Brotherhood- a conservative, moderate and non-violent group that has only been critical of Western policy in the Middle East.
From the U.S. perspective, the worst-case scenario in Egypt’s crisis would be the rise of an Islamist government potentially aligned with Iran. However there has been no sign of Muslim fundamentalism driving the protest movement.
So far, the Muslim Brotherhood does not believe the protest against Mubarak is war with the West, and locals in the cities of Cairo and Alexandria believe the Muslim Brotherhood would enjoy support from Egyptians in free election, if they ever happen.
“For most of its existence in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has refrained from violence against the state. It is not the organization of radical jihadists that it is sometimes made out to be,” writes Will Engllund at The Washington Post.
Think Progress writer Tonta Somanade claims that the purported threat of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is “a myth perpetuated and sold by the Mubarak regime,” insisting that the religiously conservative group is a minority in Egypt, but has a lot of credit because they are interested in a secular state.
Despite this argument, Washington has remained cautious to avoid deserting Mubarak — an important U.S. strategic ally of 30 years.
Fearing that Mubarak’s ouster could result to an Islamist government, which could be uncooperative, difficult and critical of both the United States and Isreal, President Barack Obama on Sunday Jan. 30, urged an “orderly transition” to democracy in Egypt, but did not call on Mubarak to step down as many Egyptians hoped he would.
While Washington appears to back Egyptian protesters who seek change, political rights and a more democratic government, it seems to fear loosing Mubarak’s strategic alliance because Mubarak has been the central pillar of the alliance between Western powers and authoritarian Arab leaders and without him it may not be sustainable.
The leader of the Egyptian revolution has however called for the United States to end its “life support for the dictator” President Hosni Mubarak, demanding that Washington support the people of Egypt in ousting Mubarak rather than support Mubarak’s initiated reforms.
Mohamed ElBaradei who returned to Egypt to lead the democratic revolution against Mubarak’s reign has urged the United States to take a stand as Washington continues its two-faced approach in dealing with the crises.
“The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years would be the one to implement democracy. This is a farce,” ElBaradei said on CBS program “Face the Nation.”
Although Mubarak had been an important partner over the years in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and the fight against terrorism, Elbaradei’s expects Washington to abandon their support for him.
“The first thing which will calm the situation is for Mubarak to leave, and leave with some dignity. Otherwise I fear that things will get bloody. And you (the United States) have to stop the life support to the dictator and root for the people.”
If Washington relinquishes its support for Mubarak and he is ousted, the most likely replacement would be ElBaradei- a man who has often accused successive U.S. administrations of being too tolerant of Egyptian rights abuses, and notably disputed the U.S. rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the administration of former President George W. Bush.
But Washington should have no fear working with the 68-year-old ElBaradei who is a Nobel Peace laureate for his work with the U.N. nuclear agency.