Toppling Of Mubarak: A Chance For Peace In The Middle East
By Anthony Zeitouni
The game is now over for Mubarak. His regime is on its death bed waiting for somebody to end life support. Obama is holding the key of change now. The Obama administration’s position has been recently escalated its sound-bites from the “Mubarak is not a dictator” of Joe Biden to the “orderly transition” toward democracy of Obama. Let us not forget that Secretary Clinton said that the U.S. wants to see a “real democracy” appear in Egypt.
Knowing that Mubarak’s days in power are numbered, Obama refrains from calling for Mubarak to step down. However, clearly Obama’s wishes will come true on the ground in Egypt. Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman just declared that “Mubarak has asked him to start dialogue with all political forces, including on constitutional and legislative reforms”. If Obama’s administration will continue to seriously support the needs of Egypt’s people as they move toward democracy, the US would be the real winner in this shakedown. In the long run, the US will be an ally to the Egyptian people not just in alliance with Mubarak, as is the case now.
Israel is the only government which is irritated that Mubarak’s regime may end. Israel is declaring that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over Egypt and Iran will back up an Islamic government. Also, without Mubarak the peace agreement is in real danger. Therefore, whoever cares about Israel should support Mubarak. This logic is flawed.
Mubarak’s regime has two selling points regarding the US: the protection of the peace agreement with Israel and keeping the Muslim Brotherhood from seizing control and imposing its ideological beliefs. So, Israel and Mubarak – but not the people of Egypt – have the same interests, and are selling the same expired products. Both are mistaken and are incorrectly interpreting history. Egypt has a strategic interest in respecting the peace agreement with Israel no matter who rules the country. We did not see any sign of anti-Israel rhetoric during the current demonstrations in Egypt.
The people of Egypt are demonstrating against Mubarak alone. Also, the only people who harshly criticized Israel and America during Mubarak’s era are insiders in Mubarak’s regime. Al-Ahram, a government newspaper, is a clear example of the loudest critic of both Israel and America. The only achievement of Mubarak during his presidency was to raise the hatred and enmity against Israel and America among the Egyptian people.
Regarding Mubarak’s second scare tactic of declaring that the Muslim Brotherhood would take over Egypt is just a bad joke. This group cannot lead Egypt today or tomorrow. Egypt has a long history of secularism and modernity, especially with the Azhar mosque and university that has always been the symbol of reason and moderation in Islam. Mubarak marginalizes the presence of Azhar, and he always tried to make it as part of his government. In the current demonstration in Egypt we did not see any signs of the Muslim brotherhood or their signature. However, they are clearly accepting the political diversity of Egypt, and they are not a majority in the country.
The aforementioned scare tactics are dangerous to Israel. The real stability of Egypt requires the immediate toppling of Mubarak, and I think it is in the best interest of Israel. Also, the current crucial situation should be a wake-up call for Israel to take seriously the peace process with the Palestinians and Syria. The “living-without-solution” strategy of Israel has now expired and cannot survive with the current changes in Middle East. It is time for Israel to build a clear and effective policy toward peace. Obama’s statement that “Egypt’s moment of volatility must be transformed into opportunity for reform” could also be a window for real peace in the Middle East if the Israeli government listens.
Editor’s Note: All photographs by Mona Sosh. Anthony Zeitouni (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a Washington-based analyst, working in conflict resolution. He focuses on reform, good governance, human rights, minorities and interfaith dialogue in the Middle East. Zeitouni has published in Search for Common Ground and with Middle East Times. He was born in Beirut, Lebanon. His web site is www.anthonyzeitouni.com