Egypt, a difficult balance

Egypt has been given $60 billion in US aid over the last 30 years, mostly for its military and security services.

From one perspective, the US has been back at its old Cold War antics: propping up an unpopular autocrat in order to prevent a popular uprising. And well.. thats kind of true.

But there is more to the story.

Mubarak has not always been unpopular, for much of his time he has been quite popular. He is now 82, and increasingly it is the hangers on, the yes men, running the country. And, for at least the last 10 years, they have been doing a terrible job. And of course, what it really comes down to is the economy, and the economy has not been good. The economy has been closed off, too many regulations, too much crap and too little capitalism.

And what is the end result? A popular uprising lead by angry youths.

But there is more to the story.

What $60 billion has bought us is a stable partner in the Middle East. They have been critical in keeping peace in the region, and they have been helpful in preventing aggressive and militant terrorist groups. They are currently, controversially, helping Israel blockade the Gaza Strip. They and Saudi Arabia have been our two, autocratic and corrupt, bulwarks against militant Islam in the region. To be perfectly honest, Egypt would have been fine if they had not blown it on the economy. The oil money is the only thing holding Saudi together, something Egypt goes not really have.

And now, they have failed. But we should be careful in supporting this popular uprising. Why? Because by far, the biggest backer to the uprising is the Muslim Brotherhood, a militant Islamic organization with terrorist ties. It is officially barred from being a political party, but it is the main opposition force, and a number of its members have been elected as independents, even with the rigged votes under Mubarak's influence.

So here I pose the question: this is a popular and to a degree democratic uprising. But the alternative to the current regime... seems to be a militant Islamic regime.

The people want something different, but even if they decided democratically what they want right now, they will not end up with democracy it seems. Islam, in certain forms, is a repressive and sexist religion. More than that, most Islamic regimes are not democratic and open, but autocratic and economic pariahs.

What to do? I think massive reform of the current system is the best option personally, with the US pushing what it should have been pushing all along: capitalism.

No comments:

Post a Comment