Andrew Nenow is a wine and viticulture sophomore and Mustang Daily conservative columnist.
For the last couple of weeks, the focal point of the Middle East has moved over a thousand miles west, away from Iran and Afghanistan, to the nation of Egypt. Beyond the difference in location, Egypt is demonstrating a type of control not seen for a while in the Middle East.
In a region of powerful, and in some cases oppressive, governments, most news stories out of the Middle East are about nations building up military or forcing new religious laws upon its citizens. Egyptian citizens turned the tables and shown what the power of mass protesting can do.
In several acts of violent protest at Liberation Square in Cairo, Egyptians have demonstrated want for a more democratic government and for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
President Mubarak announced two weeks ago he would oversee the governmental transition and step down after his term ends in September. Unfortunately this hasn’t slowed protesters down as they see this as a rouse to slow them down from removing Mubarak from office.
As I sat on my couch, watching the chaos in Egypt escalate to dangerous levels, I realized these protesters would do whatever it takes to attain the democracy they envision. The reality is the Egyptian protesters do not believe Mubarak’s claim of stepping down when he makes claims such as, “I will never leave Egypt, not until I am buried under its soil.”
So what role should the United States have played in this chaotic situation? President Obama had established his role as an active voice in Mubarak’s ear. The president’s view and advice was to concede to the protesters’ wants for the purpose of ensuring a peaceful transition of the Egyptian government.
His view on the situation is not surprising to say the least. I mean an American that will push democracy wherever it is possible? At this point in America’s history, a president doing this almost sounds cliché.
In no way am I implying President Obama is not acting in the best interest of the United States though, as he without a doubt is, but his interjection in the situation caused some backlash. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah reportedly told the U.S. and the European Union to back off Mubarak in an effort to ensure his ally’s dignified resignation. But the reality of the situation is that Mubarak has ruined his own chance of such a resignation.
At the beginning of last week the Egyptian military took control of the state. The ensuing effect was Mubarak announcing that he will step down before his term is over. The protesters felt they had achieved a great victory until Mubarak went back on his word.
Mubarak’s refusal to step down sparked even more protest and chaos in the city of Cairo. Egyptian citizens in outrage gathered in the middle of the night chanting for the resignation of Mubarak.
Mubarak’s flip-flop strategy left the state in complete crisis and confusion as the future of Egypt became even more uncertain. As the violence escalated, the protesters grew in numbers and vice versa, and it became obvious that these protesters will not be denied their wants.
Although in the end the protesters succeeded in removing Mubarak from power, there is one thing this American can be certain of: However far these leaders think their influence extends, both the United States and European Union’s two cents have caused more chaos for Egypt.
It is understandable why these leaders have offered their advice. They simply want to offer a second judgment to help avoid further catastrophe, but it seems the people of Egypt have spoken.