Egypt is a real problem for Bush
Egypt, much like Pakistan, is becoming a real problem for the Bush administration. Despite the rhetoric concerning spreading democracy in the Middle East'one of the alleged justifications for the illegal invasion of Iraq'the Bush administration has been more than content to support dictatorships that serve its objectives.
Most recently Secretary of State has found herself unable to explain how and why the USA continues to back a regime'that of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak'that cracks down on dissent in a manner that contradicts Bush administration rhetoric.
The most recent situation of Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Suliman Amer is a case in point. Convicted of criticizing the President and defaming Islam, the real issue here is one of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
The Bush administration has chosen to ignore this situation as they have so many others when it comes to their allies. At best disingenuous rhetoric is used to suggest that there have been human rights improvements over time. Yet the evidence is not there.
The USA has cultivated Egypt as a client state since the early 1970s when, in a surprise move, the then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat switched sides in the Cold War, dropping it alliance with the Soviet Union. The USA has been willing to tolerate, if not openly support, the Sadat, and later, Mubarak repression of dissent. Ironically, both Sadat and Mubarak were prepared to ally with the ultra-conservative Islamist Muslim Brotherhoods when they sought common cause against dissent arising from the political Left. A pattern unfolded, however, of then coming down on the Brotherhoods (and other Islamists) when the danger from the Left passed and the right-wing Islamists had gained too much strength.
Egypt, like Pakistan in central Asia, is a key ally for the Bush administration in its so-called war against terror. This means that they are given a pass when it comes to human rights abuses and violations of democratic rule. A comparison with the Bush administration's attitude toward Zimbabwe is instructive.
The Zimbabwe government of President Robert Mugabe has been involved in on-going repression of political opponents. Those opponents include both an organized political party'the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'as well as non-party opponents, such as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The Bush administration never tires of criticizing President Mugabe and his allies for precisely the same sorts of behavior committed by the regime of Egypt's President Mubarak. President Mugabe, a one-time friend of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, is no longer such a friend of theirs, nor of President Bush. As a result it is now open season on him and his regime. None of this in any way excuses President Mugabe, but the point is clear that the cynical workings of US foreign policy hide behind the rhetoric of human rights.
The willingness of the USA to tolerate, if not actively support, the repression of left-wing secular and religious opposition movements in Egypt by the Sadat'and later'Mubarak regimes has meant that the right-wing Islamists are the ones remaining standing who have now become the major, organized force in opposition to Mubarak. Thus, instead of democracy, Egypt has a despotic, puppet regime propped up by the USA and facing some of the same forces that the USA accuses of being in league with Islamic terrorists, forces that not very long ago were in fact allies of both Mubarak and the USA in their then war against the Left!