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Jan 27 2011

US Foreign Policy: Ignoring the Revolutions

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

In case you missed it because the American MSM mostly buried it, Tunisia had a revolution overthrowing it’s US backed dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia with most of his family. The upheaval arouse from the streets out of the frustrations of a well educated public that is suffering with high unemployment and skyrocketing prices for basics. The streets protesters were joined by the police and the military. The “revolution” is spreading across Africa to Egypt with major protests in the streets condemning the rule of ailing President Hosni Mubarak and his hand pick successor, his businessman son. Inspired by the Tunisian revolution, Egypt poverty stricken youths have taken to the streets demanding the end of Mubarak’s 30 year rule.

For decades, Egypt’s authoritarian president, Hosni Mubarak, played a clever game with his political opponents.  

He tolerated a tiny and toothless opposition of liberal intellectuals whose vain electoral campaigns created the facade of a democratic process. And he demonized the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood as a group of violent extremists who posed a threat that he used to justify his police state.

But this enduring and, many here say, all too comfortable relationship was upended this week by the emergence of an unpredictable third force, the leaderless tens of thousands of young Egyptians who turned out to demand an end to Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Now the older opponents are rushing to catch up.

“It was the young people who took the initiative and set the date and decided to go,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Wednesday with some surprise during a telephone interview from his office in Vienna, shortly before rushing home to Cairo to join the revolt.

ElBaradei, who has been targeted for assassination by Mubarak supporters, is returning to Egypt today. in his  statement issued prior to his departure, ElBaradei has some disparaging comments about Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton:

   When Egypt had parliamentary elections only two months ago, they were completely rigged. The party of President Hosni Mubarak left the opposition with only 3 percent of the seats. Imagine that. And the American government said that it was “dismayed.” Well, frankly, I was dismayed that all it could say is that it was dismayed. The word was hardly adequate to express the way the Egyptian people felt.

   Then, as protests built in the streets of Egypt following the overthrow of Tunisia’s dictator, I heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assessment that the government in Egypt is “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”. I was flabbergasted-and I was puzzled. What did she mean by stable, and at what price? Is it the stability of 29 years of “emergency” laws, a president with imperial power for 30 years, a parliament that is almost a mockery, a judiciary that is not independent? Is that what you call stability? I am sure not. And I am positive that it is not the standard you apply to other countries. What we see in Egypt is pseudo-stability, because real stability only comes with a democratically elected government..

   If you would like to know why the United States does not have credibility in the Middle East, that is precisely the answer…

(emphasis mine)

Now, it has spread to one of the poorest Mideastern countries, Yemen, as their youth take to the streets to protest their government.

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Yemen, one of the Middle East’s most impoverished countries and a haven for Al Qaeda militants, became the latest Arab state to witness mass protests on Thursday, as thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in the capital and other regions to demand a change in government. . . . . .

The demonstrations on Thursday followed several days of smaller protests by students and opposition groups calling for the removal of President Ali Abdallah Saleh, a strongman who has ruled this fractured country for more than 30 years and is a key ally of the United States in the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda. . . . . .

Yemen’s fragile stability has been of increasing concern to the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a visit to Sana earlier this month, urged Mr. Saleh to open a dialogue with the opposition, saying it would help to stabilize the country. His current term expires in two years, but proposed constitutional changes could allow him to hold onto power for longer.

How many despotic regimes will the US continue to bolster? For how long? US policy in the region has been on the wrong track for decades. Time to reassess is coming fast.

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