It is not the freedom and democracy or respect for human rights or aspirations for true and just peace that has made the kings, royals, and dictators of the Arab world the strategic partners to the USA. Rather, it is the America's insatiable thirst for oil and fawning over Israel, and for Arab Kings and dictators, it is the protection and security of their kingly and dictatorial rule that brought them together in an unholy alliance. Recall the famous meeting between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud in 1945 aboard the USS Quincy . In that meeting, President Roosevelt made a pact with the Saudi King that continues to reverberate today with the force of its piercing truth: the United States will provide military protection for Saudi Kingdom (read royal rule of al-Saud family) in exchange for American access to Saudi Arabia's vast oil reserves. In case of Jordan and Egypt where there is no or little oil, recognition and support for Israel and muffling of Palestinian cause was the price set for the American blessing.
The Egyptians who came out of their homes and braved the bullets of the security forces did not do for mere want of a piece of bread. The blood was not shed and lives were not sacrificed just to bring a new government to power. After the news of Mubarak's resignation reached the Tahrir Square, the crowd raised the cry, "Egypt is free, Egypt is free". It was not only a cry for freedom from oppression and the desire for democracy; it was also a cry for freedom from sycophantic fawning around the U.S. and Israel. For eighteen day Egyptian sentiment can be seen with the slogan, "No, Obama, not Mubarak," and posters with Star of David superimposed over Mubarak's face.
The Egyptian public feel insulted by the fact that Egyptian foreign policy decisions are made in Washington and Tel Aviv, not Cairo. Egyptians see their country as a linchpin of America's strategy in the Middle East, and their President as a chief collaborator with Washington and Jerusalem who put the American and Israeli interests and concerns over and above the interests and concerns of Egyptians and Arabs. The Egyptian people never approved Mubarak's servile cooperation with Israel in imposing the economic blockade and siege of Gaza. The Egyptians never accepted Mubarak regime joining the American and Israeli chorus that the destruction of Hamas is the most important requirement for peace between Israel and Palestine. Mubarak's unstinted cooperation with George Bush in his infamous "war on terror" that saw transfer of prisoners from the U.S. to Egypt to be tortured by the rented Egyptian security was seen by the men and women of Egypt as a national disgrace.
Understandably, both the U.S. and Israel did not want Mubarak, a partner and political ally, to fall. The two countries tacitly and overtly extended their support for the Mubarak regime during the bloody uprising. Secretary Clinton, at the risk of insulting the protesting Egyptians, on January 25 told reporters: "" and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence " "But our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people." Vice President Biden was more forthcoming, in his interview with Jim Lehrer on PBS NewsHour he said, "Look, Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he's been very responsible...the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel - I would not refer to him as a dictator."
The U.S. and Israel do not look at the successful removal of Mubarak from power as a hope for Egypt's new beginning, a harbinger for democracy, and the end of oppression. They see exit of Mubarak as a loss of an indispensable ally whose collaboration was central in maintaining the status quo in Palestine with the choking siege in the Hamas controlled Gaza. A former Israeli envoy to Cairo put it bluntly, "As long as we had Mubarak, there was no void in our relations with the region. Now we're in big trouble."
The trouble is the fear of democracy in Egypt. Israel made peace with one man - Mubarak. Mubarak alone was the guarantor of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. With Mubarak gone, hopefully, one-man and one-party dictatorial rule that has been the fate of Egypt for decades will soon be ended. The treaty, if put to vote in a democratically elected parliament or through fair and transparent popular referendum, will most certainly not survive in its present form; most Egyptians regard the treaty as a surrender to Israel. If the Egyptian Parliament votes to abrogate or modify the treaty to include a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Arabs, it will spell an endgame for Israel's free hand in the region. It will never be the same for Israel.
In the words of an American diplomat, "The Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty is the pillar of the structure in the Middle East. If the '79 agreement goes asunder, everything falls apart. Everything falls apart." Here I may add that the treaty is the pillar of the structure that has, for the last thirty years, provided lopsided security and comfort to Israel and made things only worse for Arabs, especially Palestinians. If the Israel-Egypt peace agreement goes asunder things may fall apart for Israel, not for Arabs; Arabs stand to lose very little as they had very little to gain.
Israel and the U.S. may have grudgingly accepted the humiliating departure of Mubarak, their staunch ally of three decades. However, rest assured, they will leave no stone unturned in their attempt to ensure that regime continues -- "Mubarak-style government without Mubarak".
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