By Emad Mekay
When I made my last post about the U.S. role in backing Mubarak, I hadn’t realized that Obama asked for “an orderly transition” that must begin “now” in Egypt. I am not changing my earlier post though. This is because it does reflect the growing general sentiment in Egypt about the U.S. role. This confusion over the nature of the U.S. position is partly due to several reasons.
One of them the “low voice” with which the U.S. has asked for the transition. Egypt is very noisy now. There are no words that I can think of that describes the turmoil. Lots of voices are flying over and positions are changing by the minute.
The U.S. shouldn’t consider that one statement by the White House or two or three would be enough for Egyptians to understand what Washington wants. They should elaborate their position more assertively and more often and in different words.
For the U.S. to be heard it must speak more clearly and more often.
Also, Washington should remember that Egyptians had no access to the Internet or proper communications for the past five days. For more accurate information on the U.S. position, the U.S. needs someone who speaks Egyptian Arabic to say it. There are many of them in Washington right now for sure. The British have their own Arabic speaking pressman who appears often now on TV stations. Why not the U.S.?
The confusion over the U.S. position comes too because the U.S. took too long for its position to crystallize and come out in the open. The understanding is that Mubarak has been a leading U.S. ally. Protestors would say a U.S. lapdog. For that impression to change, the U.S. needs to speak forcefully and in unambiguous terms. I do not think Mubarak will ever be the same. His tactics to fight his last battle are thuggish in nature. That is enough for Washington to distance itself from him now.
Thanks to one friend in the U.S., now I know what Obama said. How many Egyptian have friends in America like I do? The U .S. should understand this. Get the word out or risk losing another Middle East country.
Here’s what Obama said:
Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
I have to believe Obama’s sympathies are with the protestors. And I’d bet a majority of Americans feel the same way; I know I do.
That said, it’s difficult for Obama to do more. If he speaks out even more strongly in favor of Mubarak’s immediate departure, he risks a backlash from Mubarak and his supporters. Moreover, he would appear to be imposing America’s view on another country; surely this would be seen as an exercise in imperialism, even though in a good cause? Additionally, some people, both in America and abroad, would look on such behavior as a betrayal of a longtime and faithful ally.
For thirty years America has been paying a heavy price its support of the Shah in Iran. Now we are beginning to pay the price for our short-sighted policy of supporting autocrats in the Arab world.
Comments are closed.