The US-Egyptian breakup

Steven Cook writes:

The United States was not responsible for the inequity of Mubarak’s rule, but it did enable and benefit from it. Mubarak was long Washington’s man in Cairo: he kept open the Suez Canal, repressed the Islamists, and maintained peace with Israel. In return, the United States provided much for Egypt, contributing billions in economic assistance over the years to build up the country’s infrastructure, agricultural technology, and public health programs. Yet this U.S. assistance, while certainly contributing to Egypt’s development, also served to undermine the nationalist legitimacy of the regime. After all, how could Mubarak boast of Egyptian pride and ability when USAID employees were nestled in many government ministries?

At the same time, Egyptians came to see that their country’s foreign policy was being warped for the sake of U.S. largesse — and that the jackboots of the Interior Ministry awaited those who objected too loudly to this bargain. The original sin was Sadat’s separate peace with Israel, which Mubarak inherited and scrupulously upheld.

From the perspective of many Egyptians, this arrangement hopelessly constrained Cairo’s power while freeing Israel and the United States to pursue their regional interests unencumbered. Without the threat of war with Egypt, Israel poured hundreds of thousands of Israelis into settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, invaded Lebanon (twice), declared Jerusalem its capital, and bombed Iraq and Syria. For the United States, Mubarak was pivotal in creating a regional order that made it easier and less expensive for Washington to pursue its interests, from the free flow of oil to the protection of Israel and the prevention of any one country in the region from becoming too dominant. The benefits to Mubarak were clear: approximately $70 billion in economic and military aid over 30 years and the ostensible prestige of being a partner of the world’s superpower.

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3 thoughts on “The US-Egyptian breakup

  1. Norman

    What ever the outcome is, if this violence by the so called thugs is allowed to continue, then the U.S. will have to take responsibility for letting things get out of hand. With the rest of the M.E. going through these same maneuvers, we again see the “O” overwhelmed by a situation that can best be summed up as “KARMA”. This is what happens when one who has the ability, squanders it, whether by his own carelessness or by others. It shows what happens when the Empire starts its decent. Hell of a legacy for the 1st black president of the U.S.A. Sleep with vermin, your going to get bit.

  2. Christopher Hoare

    The US must stand aside when the Army sets this ‘peaceful and comprehensive’ process of change to freedom and democracy for the Egyptian people, but don’t forget that the monument to this uprising will be a pyramid of teargas canisters marked “Made in the USA”. Over thirty years the US must have bought many of the generals who are currently planning their way forward, and it would be appropriate to lean on a few for the sake of those who will otherwise be hunted down by the regime’s goon squads.

  3. Julie Kinnear

    The US doesn’t have many friends in the region and creating a new enemy would have detrimental consequences for the country so I think every step of the Obama administration must be reconsidered very carefully.

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