With the recent flare-ups of violence and protests in the streets of Cairo, and around the Middle East, people like me are left scratching their heads. And I certainly don’t think that I am the only person with a myriad of questions for the president — the first and foremost being, “what did you hope to accomplish by pressuring Mubarak to step down?” This question speaks to a troubling series of events that is taking shape in the Middle East.
Some have referred to it as the “Arab Spring”, but I refer to it as the radical Islamic takeover. The countries caving to the “Arab Spring” are all religiously moderate countries, making them an easy target for a radical revolution. Let’s revisit Egypt, for example. While the majority of citizens are Islamic, it is not an Islamic republic. However, it is a nation that has publicly struggled with extremists over the past fifty years. Anwar Sadat, the third president of Egypt and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was assassinated by radical officers of Egypt’s military after unprecedented peace agreements with Israel.
More recently, the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak earlier this year is finally being recognized as Islamic revolution. Although some still refuse to see it, Iran’s famed Ayatollahs are not among them. Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi (left) was quoted earlier this year by the New York Times as saying, “Today, as a result of the gifts of the Islamic revolution in Iran, freedom-loving Islamic peoples such as the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt and nearby Arab countries are standing up to their oppressive governments.”
If the Ayatollahs see this for what it really is, is it not unsettling that the rest of the world doesn’t? Sure, Mubarak was a violent and despotic ruler, but truth be told, he was friendly with the United States. America is now in a position where it has ousted an ally and, chances are, we won’t be as lucky with the next guy.
My next question for President Obama: shouldn’t we be concerned with our own well-being first? Look, we need to be looking out for America’s interests. It is not in America’s best interest to promote an atmosphere where radical Muslim groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to have any realistic chance at grabbing power. This chance, mind you, grows more likely every day. Why is it important for America to maintain a level of political control in Egypt?
Egypt is the owner of something most people take for granted — the Suez Canal, a major water-way for trade. Can you imagine if Egypt decided to revoke its use at the behest of their new Islamic friends, namely Iran? What would that do for commerce? What would that do to the costs of goods here in the U.S.? The Suez Canal is only one of many foreign happenings that a leaderless Egypt currently has their hands in.
Perhaps the biggest problem arising from President Obama’s lack of judgment regarding Egypt is his stance on Israel. Israel borders Egypt, and under Mubarak held a tentative peace. Now pretend that Egypt becomes an Islamic republic similar to Iran. Tensions have started to escalate along the Egypt-Israel border; will that lead to yet another failure in the President’s handling of situations in the Middle East?
Finally, I think it is important that we consider the appearance of our President’s actions to Israel. Not only Israel, but what is the message that we are sending to our allies in the Middle East? Hosni Mubarak was our ally, as was Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Then on a whim, and in direct opposition to the precedent set by presidents before him, President Obama switches teams. In fact, the real danger lies in the fact that no one even knows who is on this new team, nor will we for possibly months or even years to come. This move to try and nation-build by proxy in the Middle East has, without a doubt, created the chaos that Radical Islam thrives on, and the current occupant of the White House has much to do with it.
Mubarak was a danger to his own people, as was Gaddafi. If radical Islam decides to take hold in these largely secular countries so be it, but why, Mr. President, are we going to encourage it?
Mark Mayberry // The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga // @markmayberry85