Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Hosni Mubarak

Barry Rubin


by Rhonda Spivak, January 30, 2011

I have spent the last few days scouring the English and Hebrew Press to find what I think is the best analysis of the consequences of the upheaval in Egypt.

On the top of my list of recommendations is an article by Barry Rubin, from the Gloria Centre, Global  Research in International Affairs,  entitled SPECIAL REPORT: THE REVOLT IN EGYPT AND U.S. POLICY

The United States seems to have adopted a policy, that on the whole tends to be pushing the Egyptian regime out of power.

As Rubin writes, “The situation could not be more dangerous and might be the biggest disaster for the region and Western interests since the Iranian revolution three decades ago,” as “ This could lead to an Islamist Egypt, if not now in several years.”

As Rubin points out, in Tunisia, “The elite stepped in with the support of the army and put in a coalition of leadership, including both old elements and oppositionists. We don't know what will happen but there is a reasonable hope of stability and democracy. This is not the situation in Egypt where the elite seems to have lost confidence and the army seems passive [emphasis added].”

In fact, in Hebrew reported that private planes filled with the Egyptian business class departed from Egypt—a sign that the elite has lost confidence.

Rubin questions whether Omar Suleiman, long-time head of intelligence, as vice-president  and former Air Force chief  Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister  can stabilize the situation.

If not, then as Rubin correctly says  power will be up for grabs—and that may well in lead to a takeover by Islamicists:

Remember the Iranian revolution when all sorts of people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now president.

Remember the Beirut spring when people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Hizballah is now running Lebanon.

Remember the democracy among the Palestinians and free elections? Hamas is now running the Gaza Strip.

Remember democracy in Algeria? Tens of thousands of people were killed in the ensuing civil war.

It doesn't have to be that way but the precedents are pretty daunting.

What did Egyptians tell the Pew poll recently when asked whether they liked "modernizers" or "Islamists"? Islamists: 59%; Modernizers: 27%. Now maybe they will vote for a Westernized guy in a suit who promises a liberal democracy but do you want to bet the Middle East on it?”

Egypt has been for the last 30 years an American ally generally and its loss to an anti-American government would be a tremendous defeat for the United States.

“Moreover, a populist and radical nationalist-much less an Islamist-government could reignite the Arab-Israel conflict and cost tens of thousands of lives,” as Rubin says.

This means that U.S. policy should put an emphasis on the regime's survival—even without Mubarak .

President Obama’s "pro-democracy" approach is based on the belief that Egypt will produce a moderate, democratic, pro-Western state that will then be more able to resist an Islamist challenge. And there are those in the American mass media  that believe rather naively   the Muslim Brotherhood isn't really a threat at all, or can be incorporated into a moderate government.

Obama  has said:

"I've always said to [Mubarak] that making sure that they are moving forward on reform -- political reform, economic reform -- is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt, and you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets.... so the government has to be careful about not resorting to violence... As I said in my State of the Union speech, there's certain core values that we believe in as Americans that we believe are universal: freedom of speech, freedom of expression -- people being able to use social networking or any other mechanisms to communicate with each other and express their concerns."

Unfortunately, as Rubin concludes, “ if the regime does what Obama wants it to do, it will fall. And what is going to replace it?

“.. the ruler who emerges is likely to be from the best organized, disciplined group.’[emphasis added]. People in Russia in 1917 were yearning to be free also and they got the Bolsheviks. In Iran where people are yearning to be free, the Obama Administration did nothing.”

In fact the difference in Obama’s approach to a popular revolt in Egypt and Iran could well turn out to be especially toxic : When Iran faced a revolt, rather than push to help the opposition, Obama did nothing—thereby ensuring the survival of the Ahminenijad’s regime. Leaving Ahminenijad in power, while propelling opposition in Egypt will enable Iran to support bringing the Muslim Brotherhood into power. In retrospect if Obama wanted to promote democracy in Egypt or elsewhere in the Middle East he ought to have done everything possible to support revolt against the Iranian regime. He ought to have been consistent in his approach to both Iran and Egypt.

MEMRI reported in January 28, 2011 that Ahmad Khatami of Iran in last Friday ‘s Sermon said that in contrast to the U.S.'s dream of a new Middle East
under its domination, a new Middle East based on Islamic principles is now taking shape.He added that the recent uprisings in the Arab world have Islamic support, as people poured into the streets with the slogan of "Allahu Akhbar (Allah is the Greatest)."

Ha’aretz recently showed a photo of a poster held by a protester with a face of Mubarak with a Magen David on him—obviously protesting  the peace treaty with Israel.

On Jan 30, 2011, Asharq reported that two out of eight Hamas prisoners who broke out of a Cairo prison during the revolt made their way back to Gaza. If the revolt strengthens Hamas, just how is that in American interests?

As Rubin writes, “No matter what the United States says or does at this point, it is not going to reap the gratitude of millions of Egyptians as a liberator. For the new anti-regime leaders will blame America for its past support of Mubarak, opposition to Islamism, backing of Israel, cultural influence, incidents of alleged imperialism, and for not being Muslim. … .”

As Rubin says “There is no organized moderate group in Egypt. Even the most important past such organization, the Kifaya movement, has already been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Its leader until recently was Abdel Wahhab al-Messiri, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a virulent antisemite." 

According to Rrubin, even Muhammad el-Baradei, leader of Egypt’s reformist movement, say

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Wallace + Wallace
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Nick's Inn
  • Aziza Family
  • Total Lighting Sales
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Eddie's Gravel Supply
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • Sveinson Construction
  • The Home Store
  • KC Enterprises Ltd.
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • Bob and Shirley Freedman
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Chisick Family
  • Dimensions Insurance
  • HUB International
  • Artista Homes
  • Southwynn Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Fetching Style
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Stringer Rentals
  • Interlake C Store
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Sean Fisher
  • Bridges for Peace
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Chochy's
  • Kristina's
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Erickson Motors
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.