Arab reform 'poses big risks for US'

2011-02-03 13:14
Washington - The apparent sea change in the Arab world, given the popular revolt in Tunisia and ongoing rebellion in Egypt, could transform the region in a way not favourable to Washington, analysts warned.

As well as Egypt and Tunisia, observers are keeping a close eye on US allies Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and notably Jordan - the only Arab country outside Egypt that has a peace pact with Israel.

If the United States only pays lip-service to pro-democracy movements in the region and fails to align with them, it will "be perceived as a receding power having little influence," said conservative analyst Danielle Pletka.

Washington is reluctant to denounce Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because he is a key long-time ally in a vital region and a crucial partner in efforts to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is also deep Western suspicion about the main Egyptian opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly with regard to the Islamist movement's dim view of Israel.

Easing Western fears

Leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei sought on Wednesday to ease Western fears that a new Egypt would turn against Israel and the United States.

"The hype that once Egypt becomes a democracy, it will become hostile to the US and hostile to Israel... these are the two hypes, and are fictions," ElBaradei told CBS News.

Observers agreed that Mubarak was playing up Western fears over the Muslim Brotherhood to shore up US backing for a slower transition, but some felt Washington was also right to be concerned.

"There is a fear in the United States that the Muslim Brotherhood could gain power and that a change in leadership will impact Egypt's relations with Israel. Both of these fears are greatly exaggerated," Marina Ottaway, of the Carnegie Foundation, said.

"These are the concerns that have kept Washington from putting pressure on the Mubarak regime for all these years," noted Ottaway, who is director of the Middle East programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

'Very big deal'

Leslie Gelb, president emeritus at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, told the Daily Beast online magazine that "baloney and wishful thinking aside, the MB (Muslim Brotherhood) would be calamitous for US security".

The group supports "Hamas and other terrorist groups, makes friendly noises to Iranian dictators and torturers, would be uncertain landlords of the critical Suez Canal, and opposes the Egyptian-Israeli agreement of 1979, widely regarded as the foundation of peace in the Mideast," he said.

"Above all, the MB would endanger counterterrorism efforts in the region and worldwide. That is a very big deal."

The push to support free elections and democratic reform in the Arab world was the calling card of the George W Bush White House throughout the 2000s.

It was used often as reasoning and explanation for the controversial 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the overthrow of its long-time dictator Saddam Hussein.

'Critical of US position'

President Barack Obama backed democratic reform in the Middle East from the start of his administration. Delivering a keynote speech in Cairo in June 2009 that aimed to rebuild the US image in the region, he called for regimes to be responsive to its citizen's "aspirations".

In recent days, however, as violence on the Egyptian street has escalated, pro-democracy advocates have criticised what they see as a pale response from the Obama White House.

"The United States is playing its hand badly right now - the Obama administration has managed to turn the crowds against the United States," said Ottaway.

"The protests did not start this way, but there are more and more anti-American messages. Egyptians are increasingly critical of the position Washington is taking."
Read more on:    hosni mubarak  |  mohamed elbaradei  |  barack obama  |  tunisia  |  us  |  egypt
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
26 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.