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Posted at 9:16 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Obama to Mubarak: Forget Tunisia

By Jackson Diehl

Tunisia's popular revolution should have been a wake-up call to the rotting autocracy of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and his supporters in the Obama administration. Instead, Cairo is moving to retrench, with the tacit blessing of President Obama.

Aged Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali had barely reached exile in Saudi Arabia when Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, proclaimed that any notion that Ben Ali's 23-year-old regime resembled the 29-year-old reign of Mubarak was "pure nonsense." Suggestions that the 82-year-old Mubarak's repression of peaceful secular opposition could lead to an uprising by Egypt's own massive class of young and underemployed people were "fantasies," he insisted.

Such stonewalling could have been expected from the 68-year-old Aboul Gheit, one of Mubarak's most faithful retainers. Nor is it surprising that Mubarak and his court would ignore the alarming signs that Egypt is producing the same sparks that ignited Tunisia: In the last 10 days nine Egyptian protesters have either set themselves on fire or attempted to, in imitation of the self-immolation that triggered the Tunisian revolution.

More surprising is the Obama administration's de facto suport for Mubarak's immobility. On Tuesday, Obama called Mubarak; according to a White House "readout," they discussed "a broad range of issues, to include the New Year's attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, developments in Tunisia and Lebanon, and how best to advance Middle East peace."

According to both the statement and my own sources, here is what the two did not discuss: the need for change of any kind in Egypt. This in spite of the fact that Mubarak just staged a rigged parliamentary election in which his opposition was systematically and sometimes brutally suppressed and has scheduled a similar presidential "election" for later this year that would extend his term in office -- and Egypt's political stasis -- for another six years.

By failing to mention reform, Obama effectively placed a public U.S. bet on Mubarak's ability to prevent any spread of Tunisia's unrest. According to the White House statement, the president "shared with President Mubarak that the United States is calling for calm and an end to violence..." The statement went on to repeat U.S. support for democracy in Tunisia -- a position the administration adopted only after Ben Ali's overthrow. But observers in Egypt and across the Middle East were quick to get the message: Obama's support for "free and fair elections" does not extend to Egypt.

In one sense this is unsurprising: For two years the administration has soft-pedaled the cause of reform in Arab autocracies and above all in Egypt. The thinking seems to be that Mubarak's help is needed in the Arab-Israeli peace process, which Obama has futilely focused on at the expense of other issues; that there is no alternative to Mubarak, despite the emergence of a mass reform movement behind Nobel peace prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei; and that there is no possibility of a popular revolution in Egypt.

That analysis may be correct -- but it ignores the lessons that Middle East experts are drawing from Tunisia. The Carnegie Endowment's Michelle Dunne cites three: "First, widespread economic grievances such as youth unemployment can indeed quickly translate into specific demands for political change, and second, this can happen even in the absence of strong opposition organizations."

"The third lesson of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution was perhaps the most memorable of all: When long-postponed change finally comes, it is often startling how relatively little effort and time it can take."

These lessons apply to a number of Arab autocracies, including Algeria, Libya, Jordan and Syria. But for United States, the stakes are highest in Egypt. In that respect, Obama's silence on the need for Egyptian reform isn't just short-sighted. It's dangerous.

By Jackson Diehl  | January 20, 2011; 9:16 AM ET
Categories:  Diehl  | Tags:  Jackson Diehl  
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Comments

You are right. Wait, maybe I missed something and there is hope for our puppet in Egypt after all. You've never done this before.

Posted by: MarkThomason | January 20, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Aside from Egypt, why did Obama not press for China human rights? And why not a whimper from the press?

Posted by: llrllr | January 20, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Wow intelligent comprehensive and fair reporting from WAPO? What's up with that? Didn't Sarah Palin bake cookies or buy groceries today?

Obama and Mubarak. Birds of a feather and BFF's .

Posted by: Straightline | January 20, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

They said if I voted for John McCain... I'd end up with an Administration that supported ruthless dictatorships and ignored human rights abuses.

Who knew ?

Posted by: pvilso24 | January 20, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

It was 50 years ago that the British, French and Israelis concocted a war between Egypt and Israel as an excuse to "get Nassar" the then leader of Egypt, in what came to be known as the Suez Crisis. The US opposed the blatant charade from the beginning and the incident triggered a near-nuclear war between the US and Russia a few short years before the Cuban Missile crisis. Suez emboldened the Kremlin to push in Cuba because they read the Suez Crisis as a capitulation of the west in the face of Soviet aggression. The British and French were forced to leave Egypt without getting Nassar and leaving behind the birth of pan-Arabism. Suez marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire and its influence in all of the Arab world. The Arabs turned to the US to guard against Communist Soviet expansion into the Middle East for the next half century.

History should never be allowed to repeat itself no matter how much the British might want to payback the US. It is never better the second time around.

Posted by: rambostilskin | January 20, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

This is just more of the usual American drivel. Why we think we should/can tell others what to do completely escapes me. Trying to be the "biggest bully on the block" was never an American "value" where I grew up...but now it seems to be official "policy." Why so many Americans support that is a complete mystery.

"Dangerous" that Obama didn't express the usual American claptrap about "democracy"...what a laugh. How could that possibly be "dangerous"? Oh sure, if Obama said something, the Egyptians would certainly completely roll over and change their whole political system. Talk abuot the wildest of fantasies. (Since our congressional seats are clearly up for purchase by the highest contributors...read what Tom DeLay had to say in his own "defense" (oh, everybody does what I did...), it's complete garbage for an American to pontificate about the political system of another country.)

I live in Europe, and it's clear the rest of the world (at least this part of it) takes anything like this that an American says with a hugh block of salt.

Posted by: Rigged | January 20, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I hope the author of this article understands that any approval by the United States completely hurts opposition groups in the Middle East. Obama pressing for any change or supporting a movement would be akin to the kiss of death. Most groups explicity ASK the US to stay out of their business for that reason.
But I forget, this isn't about facts, it's simply an article whining about Obama. As you were.

Posted by: rmcneary | January 20, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

@Rigged - the United States is the greatest country in the history of the world. Why shouldn't other countries be more like us? Also, democracies don't declare war on each other. More democracies leads to less conflicts. Promoting democracy, especially in cases like this where a dictator has been thrown out, should be an American imperative. Obama should be more out front on this, especially given an opportunity to promote democratization in the Middle East, where it is sorely lacking.

Posted by: Illini | January 20, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

To lllini:

one word ... "Pakistan"

Posted by: arunc1 | January 20, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The Arab world has been waiting for more than 50 years for a moment like the Tunisian revolution. I think the West had/will engage in a number of calculations prior to promoting any type of democratic move against Arab dictators...The Arab youth cannot wait any longer, they simply need to rely on their courage and aspirations to remove their despots.I wish inside outside forces will not conspire to cripple such a genuine Tunisian achievement.

Posted by: mouda_h | January 20, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Aside from Egypt, why did Obama not press for China human rights? And why not a whimper from the press?

-------------

Because China is creditor to the United States in a very major way. So you don't bite the hand that feeds you. Send millions of manufacturing jobs overseas, run unfunded wars for almost a decade, and spend beyond your means (both governement and personal) and this is where you will end up - polite and respectful to someone you don't like.

Posted by: sr31 | January 20, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse


Like this third class zionist/Israeli flack
knows WHAT Obama 'told' Mubarak, or anything of American foreign policy thinking.
Diehl just knows Netnyahoo thinks this might be some roundabout excuse to start ANOTHER invasion SOMEWHERE in the Me.

Nice to have a day's relief from Dieh'ls
'bomb Iran' routine, though. But Why does he, or WaPo pretend he's even vaguely interested in
US interests?

Posted by: whistling | January 20, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Same s***, different a******.
The US gov. has always been known for supporting thugs, as long as they are their thugs, they don't care about other people freedoms, unless it suits their interests (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, ..etc).
And it's gonna backfire, don't think that the people will magically forget about the entities supported their dictatorship regimes for decades.
You are backing (politically and financially their own enemy) and that's a guarantee for non US friendly government shall their be a revolution (Be it secular, religious, ..etc).

As an Egyptian, I hope decent American citizens back us in our fight, it's your money that's being used to fuel our regime, to supress our freedom and violate our human rights. Everything you do and say matter.


22-years old Egyptian

Posted by: Heist_R | January 20, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I hope the author of this article understands that any approval by the United States completely hurts opposition groups in the Middle East. Obama pressing for any change or supporting a movement would be akin to the kiss of death. Most groups explicity ASK the US to stay out of their business for that reason.
But I forget, this isn't about facts, it's simply an article whining about Obama. As you were.

Posted by: rmcneary | January 20, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree. Some of the Tunisian protesters said much the same thing and that the lack of comment from the US bolstered their case.

Which is easy to see. By staying out of it, we assure that the discussion remains about the country's issues, not about us. It's the kiss of death for protesters to be seen as aligned with America.

Posted by: rosefarm1 | January 20, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@Illini: The US is the "greatest country in the history of the world"...huh? That has absolutely no meaning because it's a completely meaningless and empty claim...and nothing more than pointless boasting. As I said, being the "biggest bully on the block" was not an American "value" I was familiar with when I was growing up.

The primary country attacking other countries is...our own "democracy": invasions of Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq; drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia; etc etc etc. No one else comes remotely close over the past 20-30 years. That's why a poll of Brits...our closest allies...a few years ago found three-quarters of those polled felt strongly that George Bush was a greater threat to world peace and stability than either the Iranian or North Korean leaders.

Our political system is almost as corrupt as they come...Tom Delay's comments were particularly revealing...and to pretend otherwise is just delusional. Our schools are falling behind other countries in test results; our economy is a mess...with little end in sight; our unemployment rate is a record levels; our road/bridge infrastructure is crumbling; etc etc etc.

And yet our so-called "representatives" are spending something like $1 trillion on our supposed "defense" EVERY YEAR...including DOD, Iraq and Afghanistan, homeland security, intelligence services, etc...more than the rest of the world combined. Are we really "threatened" that much that we have to bankrupt our economy, without the resources to deal with serious issues domestically...and mortgage our future...or are our so-called "leaders" not telling us the truth?

The US has a lot of strengths, but "greatest country in the history of the world"...only to the self-delusional.

Posted by: Rigged | January 20, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

@Illini: The US is the "greatest country in the history of the world"...huh? That has absolutely no meaning because it's a completely meaningless and empty claim...and nothing more than pointless boasting. As I said, being the "biggest bully on the block" was not an American "value" I was familiar with when I was growing up.

The primary country attacking other countries is...our own "democracy": invasions of Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq; drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia; etc etc etc. No one else comes remotely close over the past 20-30 years. That's why a poll of Brits...our closest allies...a few years ago found three-quarters of those polled felt strongly that George Bush was a greater threat to world peace and stability than either the Iranian or North Korean leaders.

Our political system is almost as corrupt as they come...Tom Delay's comments were particularly revealing...and to pretend otherwise is just delusional. Our schools are falling behind other countries in test results; our economy is a mess...with little end in sight; our unemployment rate is a record levels; our road/bridge infrastructure is crumbling; etc etc etc.

And yet our so-called "representatives" are spending something like $1 trillion on our supposed "defense" EVERY YEAR...including DOD, Iraq and Afghanistan, homeland security, intelligence services, etc...more than the rest of the world combined. Are we really "threatened" that much that we have to bankrupt our economy, without the resources to deal with serious issues domestically...and mortgage our future...or are our so-called "leaders" not telling us the truth?

The US has a lot of strengths, but "greatest country in the history of the world"...only to the self-delusional.

Posted by: Rigged | January 20, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Here's also a video that pretty much sums US policy in ME:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNcR_4qqvs8

Posted by: Heist_R | January 20, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

To believe that the US can have any impact on
politics in Egypt today is indulging in pure fantasy. Obama is absolutely right to stay out of it. Mubarak's policies have destroyed any sensible opposition, all that is left are the Islamists. To call him to task at this late date can only be counterproductive. Mubarak will not be there forever, the US needs to start thinking what may happen then and how to make sure Egypt does not fall into period of great instability with unpredictable results.

Posted by: serban1 | January 20, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

To believe that the US can have any impact on
politics in Egypt today is indulging in pure fantasy. Obama is absolutely right to stay out of it. Mubarak's policies have destroyed any sensible opposition, all that is left are the Islamists. To call him to task at this late date can only be counterproductive. Mubarak will not be there forever, the US needs to start thinking what may happen then and how to make sure Egypt does not fall into period of great instability with unpredictable results.

Posted by: serban1 | January 20, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Zionists control white suprimacist western countries who control puppet arab dictators.
but this status quo cannot be maintained.
The US advocates democracy and human rights in tehran, tibet, north korea...
but supports puppet arab dictators from saudi, kuwait, egypt, morroco, yemen, UAE, tunisia ...
Then you get some ignorant white suprimacist TV anchors on fox and others disparaging arabs
because they "hate democracy" - tunisia exposed all the white suprimacist lies -.
Add that to endless support of apartheid israel ongoing ethnic cleansing of palestinian civilians.
Nelson mandela says israel is an partheid regime but white suprimacists and their zionist pupeteers claim it is a democracy, who do you believe ?

Posted by: MumboJumboo | January 20, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

@serban1
I hate to say this, but you have been brain-washed by the media.
What Islamists are you talking about? There's only one party with hypocrite religion orientation called the "Muslim Brotherhood" and it's outcasted by all Egyptians (Muslims & Christians) for using religion to serve their agenda.
They are in bed with the regime and they just announced they are not taking part in the upcoming January 25, which is planned to be revolution day. This day unified all the parties and activists in here, but yet not them.

You can read about their announcment in here (Use google translator):
dostor.org/politics/egypt/11/january/19/35341?page=3

and while you are at it, read the comments so you can get a taste of how people feel toward them.

The "Islamists" is the boogeyman Mubarak uses to frighten the world and stay in power (Fear-monger as you would put it). But "It's either us, or Islamists" lie is wearing off, and the world is becoming day after another aware of his crimes and corruptness.


~Egyptian

Posted by: Heist_R | January 20, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Remember when we pressed the Palestinians for elections and Hamas won? You think there are a bunch of Jeffersonian idealists in Egypt, home of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Posted by: DatMel | January 20, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Well some said don't worry about the Islamists in Gaza either until Hamas took over its government. What we should be supporting is the freedom to establish grassroots political movements prior to pushing for more democratic elections because often the Islamists are the most organized and best positioned to win an election. That's not to say that the Mubarak regime doesn't turn my stomach...just feel the alternative may be worse.

Posted by: bew795 | January 20, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"According to both the statement and my own sources, here is what the two did not discuss: the need for change of any kind in Egypt."

Obama said the kind of words Diehl demands to President Hu of China; Hu said "mind your own business." This is all political theater, and Diehl is merely criticizing Obama for not rolling out the usual melodrama.

Further, Diehl has only hearsay testimony on what was said, and is pushing his point to us on second generation hearsay. I, for one, don't trust the chain. The people who are going to share with Diehl a confidential communication likely share his biases.

Final, I think a discussion of the situation of Coptic Christian, Lebanon, and Tunisia so close to the events caries an implicit message that we are paying attention and have an interest in the outcome. In diplomacy, it is sometimes the implicit communications that carry the real message.

Posted by: j3hess | January 20, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"For two years the administration has soft-pedaled the cause of reform in Arab autocracies and above all in Egypt."

For two years? And before that? Throughout the Bush Administration, Egypt was the second-biggest recipient of US foreign aid, behind only Israel. Did you ever complain about that? OF course not, you never criticised the Bush Administration.

You're just looking for a stick to beat Obama. You don't want Mubarak to fall. You can't possibly believe that he'll be replaced by westernised democrats. Mubarak doesn't even bother stealing votes from these guys, they don't have enough to make it worthwhile. All his election-rigging efforts are concentrated on keeping the Brotherhood out of power. The Muslim Brotherhood routinely out-polled Ayman Nour's liberal democrats about ten-to-one.

I have the greatest regard for Mohammed El-Baradei - I believed El-Baradei on Iraqi WMD while Diehl was proclaiming his belief in George Bush's version - but it's fantastical wishful thinking to claim that a mass movement has formed behind him. El-Baradei is not really a politician at all, and Egyptians are already coming to see him as too academic, too soft, too unworldly to actually take on Mubarak or take over Egypt.

You remind me of the kind of fluff your lot used to spout about Chalabi, when you were pushing the invasion of Iraq. Total ignorance, combined with wishful woolly thinking. These are not the political actors who will emerge after an upheaval in Egypt, anymore than your proteges became masters of Iraq - and in Iraq you had your army on the ground to control the process.

It's the Mubaraks, or their cronies, or the Brotherhood. There's your choice. And you won't even get to choose that. Because words from Washington will have no impact on how events are going to play out. If Mubarak can keep a lid on food prices, he will cling on. If he can't, he will slip.

Posted by: kenonwenu | January 20, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

@bew795
Generalizing what happened in Gaza is not reasonable (regardless of how you perceive it, good or bad).
Not only Gaza is a war zone with (and resembles only a portion of scattered and occupied Palestinian lands) with its very special circumstances, the Arab/Muslim countries are over 30 and are spread across different continents with different cultural backgrounds and ideologies.

And if you bother with Gaza, why not bother with Tunis too, where the revolution was secular?

There's no excuse for supporting such regimes. Especially in a country like Egypt which is home to well-known intellectuals, journalists, scientists and Nobel prize winners (such as Mohammed El-Bradei who recently joined the political scene and is the most popular candidate for president after Mubarak).

Posted by: Heist_R | January 20, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

@kenonwenu
"El-Baradei is not really a politician at all, and Egyptians are already coming to see him as too academic, too soft, too unworldly to actually take on Mubarak or take over Egypt."
====

Where did you get that from? Totally misinformed. Not only about El-Bradei and how Egyptians perceive him, but about the political scene in Egypt aswell.

Posted by: Heist_R | January 20, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Well, Democrats, are you happy with Mr. Obama...the ultimate "girly man" when it comes to foreign relations? What is the matter with you people? As long as you can enjoy the fruits of capitalism (even as you work for non profits and the government), you are okay and everyone else...well, that is their problem? Say what you will about George Bush, he at least tried to say that the US does stand for Democracy...can't say that about this bunch of wimps.

Posted by: dcmowbray1 | January 20, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Zionists control white suprimacist western countries who control puppet arab dictators.
but this status quo cannot be maintained.
The US advocates democracy and human rights in tehran, tibet, north korea...
but supports puppet arab dictators from saudi, kuwait, egypt, morroco, yemen, UAE, tunisia ...
Then you get some ignorant white suprimacist TV anchors on fox and others disparaging arabs
because they "hate democracy" - tunisia exposed all the white suprimacist lies -.
Add that to endless support of apartheid israel ongoing ethnic cleansing of palestinian civilians.
Nelson mandela says israel is an partheid regime but white suprimacists and their zionist pupeteers claim it is a democracy, who do you believe ?

Posted by: MumboJumboo | January 20, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

------------------
Yes we know. Arabs hold no responsibility for the cesspools they create. It's always someone else's fault. Did you ever think your glorious religion and the violence, barbarity and duplicity inherent in Islam might have something to do with the way Arabs/Muslims live and have historically lived?

Posted by: shewholives | January 20, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Heist_R - you think Egypt has a vibrant liberal secular movement, ready to take power? That's not what most secular Egyptian liberals think. You say the Brotherhood is terrible, yet you admit trying to ally with it. Why? Because you know the Muslim Brotherhood has the grassroots strength.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not paranoid about the Muslim Brotherhood. I don't think the MB running Egypt would increase the risk of terrorism, and I don't care about terrorism anyway. I consider terrorism an utterly trivial threat. My life will be totally unchanged whoever runs Egypt.

You want to bring Mubarak down, I say go for it, good luck, really. Just don't kid yourself that his replacements will be scrambling to write a Jeffersonian constitution. They'll be scrambling to put affordable food on tables, whatever the expense in long-term debt. Because if Mubarak doesn't die in power - and he probably will - it will be economic factors that bring him down. And economic factors will be the focus of any new government. Pleasing the intellectual liberals will get them nothing if they don't placate the hungry masses. And if they do placate the hungry masses, then they won't need to please the liberal intellectuals.

What baffles me is that you appear to want American support. Visible US support is what sank Ayman Nour and his movement. Just as Mubarak points to the Brotherhood as a bogeyman to scare foreigners into supporting him, so the Brotherhood points to the Americans as a bogeyman to scare Egyptians away from the secular opposition. Surely you can't be so blinkered as to believe that ordinary Egyptians would support a party that's perceived as Washington's protege.

I wish you luck in your search for Egyptian freedom. And I advise you to give the discredited Americans a wide berth.

Posted by: kenonwenu | January 20, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Does the world really need to hear from the U.S. government before making any decision? What exactly would Mr. Diehl want the Obama administration to do or say?

Dictatorial governments are always on a ticking clock, regardless of their political alignment. When the people have enough they will fall and be replaced by something better or something worse but it is ludicrous to believe that the U.S. government can or should master mind the events.

Posted by: TomMiller1 | January 20, 2011 8:47 PM | Report abuse

@kenonwenu

>>What baffles me is that you appear to want American support.

You must have misunderstood me. What the Egyptians want is for the US gov to stop supporting Mubarak's regime, financially and politicaly. We surely don't want anyone to fight for us, just don't take sides and ally with our regieme.
When you ask someone to stop backing an enemy of yours, you are not really asking for his support, you are simply telling him to "stay out of it".


>>Just don't kid yourself that his replacements will be scrambling to write a Jeffersonian constitution.

Re-writing the constitution is one of the top priorities of the transitional government to come, so mistakes wouldn't be repeated. The current constitution is the reason of Egyptians misery with its Emergency Law (which is in effect for over a decade) and dictatorship-friendly amendments.
People here suffer from injustice and law abuse as much as they suffer from poverty, so this is something that even the common man will be definitely concerned with.

>>They'll be scrambling to put affordable food on tables, whatever the expense in long-term debt.

On the contrary, all they have to do is stand and watch. Financial corruption is the primary problem, not the economy (as bad as it's). As soon as it ends, significant changes can be anticipated.


>> you think Egypt has a vibrant liberal secular movement, ready to take power?

We aren't planning to replace a dictator with another, there should be a transitional goverment forming a new constitution followed by free elections.
Right now, being "Egyptian" is what unifies the people.

>> Why? Because you know the Muslim Brotherhood has the grassroots strength.

True. Except for the "trying to make ally" thing.
January 25 is planned to be a start of a series of protests, organized across the country. It's an obligation for every Egyptian to take part.
By MB declaring they're not going to participate while their members are free to do so as individuals, they are basically saying they are in bed with the government or playing for their own interests (when they get credit).
MB doesn't compare to the number of masses expected, however, every person can make a difference.


>>I wish you luck in your search for Egyptian freedom.

Thanks. And remember that you can do more than wishing me luck. That's why I bothered writing in here in the first place :)


and keep an eye for #25jan @Twitter on January 25.

Posted by: Heist_R | January 20, 2011 11:35 PM | Report abuse

A minority of the comments to this article are interesting, primarily factual, and well-thought, even when expressing negative viewpoints. However, a majority of this article's comments smack of mental illness: written opinions poorly disguised as "un-documented facts"; i.e., "Zionists control white suprimacist countries..." or "It was 50 years ago that the British, French and Israelis concocted a war to 'get Nassar' "--after Nasser had closed the British-built and owned Suez Canal to British/French shipping (which was going from Europe to Asia and back, with raw materials from the empire-territories shipped to those European empires; followed by manufactured products from those European empire-nations being shipped back to be sold to customers in the non-manufacturing territories of the eastern-world of those years). Why does the WaPo bother to print untruthful, semi-psychotic drivel? Do we need another Jared Laughner-type created by not segregating fiction from fact?

Posted by: marc85 | January 20, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

tunisia 10 million egypt 80 million 10 million coptics and 65.5 millions muslims
that believe that islam is the solution
hello.... a bigger stronger iran here next door to your friend nathanyaho....wake up mr.Diehl..read a little you may learn that egypt never in the history had a problem with the christian population till israel opened its embassy in giza..hands off egypt please

Posted by: bushchenyrumsfield | January 21, 2011 4:10 AM | Report abuse

The Tunisian "revolution" was first about lack of jobs, second about outrage of the corruption of the President and his wife's family, and perhaps a somewhat distant third annoyance about lack of political freedom.

Egypt's government and business is run by various cliques and those outside the cliques find it difficult to get good jobs. Egyptians probably have a few more options than Tunisians.

The US Government spends a tremendous amount of money "aid to Egypt" trying to promote economic reform through American consultants working with Egyptian ministries. The issue of political reform is more dicey and Egypt is far from the worst offender We would like the pro-business folks to push for more transparency and standardized rules and more political freedom. But the Muslim Brotherhood - historically linked to occasional terrorism within Egypt - has more grass roots support.

If America tried to force Egypt to adopt press freedom and political freedom, it probably wouldn't be effective or well received.

Mubarak has maintained the peace with Israel since 1979, opposed Hamas and terrorism and tried to broker a peace with Palestine. Thanks to Egypt, Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994 and all the Arab countries called for a negotiated peace with Israel in 2002 and repeated the call in 2007. If Netanyahu had agreed to the peace that his Defense Minister proposed (supported by President Perez and the Kadima party) Mubarak would have been essential to sell the peace (not 1967 borders but something reasonable) to all the Arab countries and to the majority of the Palestinians.

Some people want the US to call for Mubarak's overthrow. That would be extremely stupid on our part. Egypt didn't force us to overturn our fraudulent election in Florida that made George Bush president. We should return the favor and let Egyptians push for whatever freedom they can achieve, without attempting to dictate the solution from the outside.

Posted by: pomeroyt | January 21, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

By the way, if posters think the British built the Suez canal, they should re-read their history books. The French built it, threatening British control of it's most important colony (India) by controlling the cheapest transit (instead of going around the Cape). British Prime Minister Disraeli borrorwed money from his banker friend - Rothschild - and secretly bought up half the shares before the French knew what was happening. The terms of construction cheated the Egyptians and combined with a spendthrift Pasha, led to Egyptian bankruptcy. Then Britain took over Egypt - leading to Egyptian resentment and some opposition to British rule during WWII.

When Nasser nationalized the Canal, the British and French got Israel to attack Egypt, which at that time was close to the USSR, which helped Egypt built the Aswan high dam and temporarily was a close ally (though some say the Russians gave Egypt false info that led Nasser to think Israel would attack Syria and led him to threaten Israel - leading to Israel humiliating Egypt and seizing parts of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the 1967 war).

In 1956, the US, fearing a war with Russia, threatened to sell the British debt and bankrupt Britain. So Israel, Britain and France were forced to withdraw.

Nasser created a disastrous socialist revolution and his blustering threats led Israel to attack and humiliate Egypt in 1967. Egypt attacked Israel in 1973 and although they lost again, they killed some Israelis and won back enough honor to allow them to propose peace with Israel. Sadat, who made the peace in 1979 after flying to Israel was murdered at a parade in Cairo by Islamic Fundamentalists in 1981. Mubarak took over and has kept the peace with Israel in spite of tensions, and opposed Hamas and Terrorism, as well as suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood (and suppressing the rights of others as well).

The US would not blunder into meddling in Egypt to try to force democracy. We might not like the results. Better to let Egyptians push for their own freedom and give verbal support to positive moves toward more freedom.

Egypt will remain a very important US ally with respect to mid-East peace issues, at least as long as Mubarak is in power. We may not like his anti-democratic actions, but our priorities may lie elsewhere with respect to Mubaraks important role in mide East peace attempts.

Posted by: pomeroyt | January 21, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

@pomeroyt

>> Egypt attacked Israel in 1973 and although they lost again, they killed some Israelis and won back enough honor to allow them to propose peace with Israel.

This is enough to show how you poor your history background is.

Posted by: Heist_R | January 21, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

*how poor

Posted by: Heist_R | January 21, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

From Wikipedia:

1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. The war began when the coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism,

To Heist:

Don't know what your problem is. I didn't think it necessary to mention the attack on Israel in 1948, since everyone - even people with a poor grasp of history like you are probably aware of that.

Posted by: pomeroyt | January 21, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The current administration is busy picking pieces from the last triumph of democracy in Pakistan. It may not be able right now to handle another experiment with democracy in the Muslim World gone wrong. It may run out of marines

Posted by: nb12 | January 21, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

@pomeroyt

It's funny how you say I have a poor grasp of history while you haven't even realized what mistake I was referring to. Though it's not funnier than saying Egypt lost in 1973 war.


"Egypt's surprise assault over the Suez was
successful. Israel had been lulled into complacency. When
the ceasefire was ordered, Egyptian forces occupied positions
on the eastern side of the Suez, though the war was at a
stalemate. Sadat's objectives were achieved. In strategic
and political terms, Egypt won the war."

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1989/PSJ.htm

Posted by: Heist_R | January 22, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I guess the Egyptian government claimed to its people that it won - and named two industrial cities outside Cairo after the opening of the conflict - 10th of Ramadan and 6th of October.

Wikipedia has a detailed account of the fighting - Egypts 3rd army was surrounded in the Sinai and Israeli troops had crossed the canal and were 100 km from Cairo. The Russians were threatening to invade to prevent a complete defeat of Egypt. A cease fire was declared under US pressure, which feared a war with Russia.

So in a sense Egypt didn't lose, though in a military sense it looked like a loss was probably emminent. One Egyptian who was a soldier in the battle told me how they buried their garbage in the desert and then had to dig it up again because they had nothing to eat.

Technically, the fighting ended with a truce so Egypt wasn't formally beaten. But it's main claim to victory was in killing a bunch of Israelis, unlike the 1967 6 day war.

Posted by: pomeroyt | January 23, 2011 9:56 PM | Report abuse

The article you cited was termed the Egyptian perspective of the war. It said that Egypt won in a political sense.

In a political sense, Egypt could legitimately claim a victory, since a few years later it negotiated peace with Israel and got its land back. Unlike, 1967 Egypt did not need to be ashamed of its performance in the war and in a political sense the war paved the way for a peace favorable to Egypt (and to Israel) in 1979.

Posted by: pomeroyt | January 23, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse

By the end of the war, Egypt held more territories than before, so no, it wasn't just "political".

>> - Egypts 3rd army was surrounded

True. The third army got trapped. But that was about it. They held their positions well.


>> Israeli troops had crossed the canal and were 100 km from Cairo.

This is like saying "I can see Russia from Alaska". Israel tried to advance to Suez and Ismailia, but they failed, miserably, lookup "Battle of Suez".

By the way, Battle of Suez took place after the first ceasefire, which proves wrong the theory that Egypt would have been defeated if it wasn't for it.


It was actually the other way around,

"Operation Nickel Grass was an overt strategic airlift operation conducted by the United States to deliver weapons and supplies to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The Military Airlift Command of the U.S. Air Force shipped 22,325 tons of tanks, artillery, ammunition, and supplies in C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft between October 14 and November 14, 1973.

This rapid re-supply mission was critical to the Israeli military's ability to thwart the armed Egyptian and Syrian action."

The report posted earlier is prepared by a major of USMC, it cites both Israeli and Egyptian references.

But if you want to really see how Israel's official perceives that day, here are some quotes:
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/659/fo2.htm


"I write of the Yom Kippur War not as a military report, but as an intimate disaster or a horrible nightmare that I myself have suffered and which will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life."


-- Golda Meir, Israeli prime minister during the October War -- My Life


"For Israel, the war the Arabs' victory was the more decisive."

-- General Ishio Javitch -- Symposium on the October War, Jerusalem, 16 September 1974

Posted by: Heist_R | January 26, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Just a correction, the tag is #jan25 (To whom interested). It might have trended in US.

Here are some local news sources aswell:
http://www.facebook.com/RNN.NEWS
http://www.facebook.com/ElShaheeed

Some updates are posted in English, you can also check the photos & videos.

Posted by: Heist_R | January 26, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

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