A Brief Review of the Current Egyptian Political Situation

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The current political situation in Egypt has pundits on all sides of the political spectrum crying foul and speculating what should have been done by the United States to either prevent or support the current turmoil. The simple truth is that as is often the case, American foreign policy is a complicated affair which seeks to accomplish a number of goals simultaneously, yet with often contradictory aims. While criticism can be levied against any administration for its posture towards the Middle East, the reality of what the United States faces is very challenging.

At present the current Mubarak regime has ruled Egypt for more approximately thirty years. Hosni Mubarak was the successor to the Anwar Sadat. Sadat was no Jeffersonian democrat, but realized that what was in the best interests of Egypt was a peace treaty with Israel, with the caveat of Israel's return of the Sinai peninsula and its demilitarization, and a relationship with western governments. From the late fifties until the 1973 Arab Israeli War, Egypt maintained strong relationships with the Soviet Union. Part of this was connected to post colonial anti-British sentiment and the Franco-British invasion of 1956 to seize the Suez canal in wake of Egypt's nationalization of the canal. In the end Sadat paid the price for his bold move towards peace and was assassinated.

Mubarak assumed power and continued the newly formed alliance with the United States. The alliance with the United States and the peace treaty with Israel were cemented with military aid to Egypt of approximately 1.3 billion dollars a year. While a relatively small expenditure compared to the United States own military budget, the aid has served among other things to develop the Egyptian army as a critical moderating component in Egypt. In addition, it has served to combat what the United States and the Mubarak regime considers radical fundamentalists bent on instituting a much more religiously dominated Egypt.

For those who have argued against the United States' long standing support of Mubarak by both Democratic and Republican administrations, the reality lies that support for Mubarak was seen as "beneficial" in two ways. The first was in maintaining peace with Israel. The 1973 oil embargo and in the fact the near confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union were sufficient for U.S. government officials to determine that stability and peace were much more important that the possibility of democratic elections which in fact might lead to the rise of fundamentalist religious parties in the government. The presence of such parties might end the peace agreement with Israel and move towards the closure of the Suez canal and the support of militant organizations.

In the end, the merit of the decisions of the past will be weighed by history as to whether they were right or wrong, but it is important to understand the complicated nature of the historical events when approaching the subject.


Jacob Lumbroso is an enthusiast for foreign languages, history, and foreign cultures. He recommends http://thejewishchronicles.com/ for anyone looking to learn about the History of Judaism.

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