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."

  • Fazil - 2011-02-03 14:28

    Surely all of this had to have been anticipated by American strategists...or did they think that people of a lesser God would always be subdued...Welcome to reality,welcome now...

  • ctjohn01 - 2011-02-03 14:37

    I'm sure this doest come as a surprise to the US. Maybe its a good think to entirely shake up the whole region and let the chips fall where they may. As long as it results in peace, and the people are happy, thats all that matter. I think western powers have had a finger in the pie way too long. No-one knows who's who's in who's back pocket anymore.

  • blatand - 2011-02-03 14:38

    The US and certain allies have a history of supporting dictatorships with a beneficial disposition. (Claiming that George W Bush ever seriously supported democracy in the Arab world is a blatant lie.) This support has made it impossible for the majority of the populations in many countries to exercise their rights and attain their aspirations. The only means left to enhance their course was by terrorist attacks on Western targets. To claim that Obama is now turning the sentiment of the masses against the US is a misrepresentation - that sentiment has been around for decades; only now has the opportunity arisen to display it. By withdrawing support for these dictatorships the US is likely to make matters more difficult for themselves in the short term, but will eventually reduce the widespread resentment against themselves - in this Obama is on the right track.

  • Shahied - 2011-02-03 14:38

    Well..have you thought your Puppet will rule till the end of time...

  • james4usa - 2011-02-03 15:27

    US has killed 100,000 innocent people in Iraq, how many in Afghan?. Hundreds of thousand Palestinians lost their homes.They want us to get our troops off their land, Stay out off their affairs, stop supporting Israel.

      ZACKIE - 2011-02-03 15:51

      the usa's biggest export is death

  • Enigma07 - 2011-02-03 15:43

    Well it is of great concern as we do not need any more hostile islamic countrys that support terrorism & are a threat to world peace.

      Mozy1 - 2011-02-03 16:20

      You mean we do not need any hostile western countries that support terrorism and is a threat to world peace. ANC was also a terrorist organisation. Look at who the US allies are. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan. All have the worst track records. Where are teh weapons in Iraq? Who killed the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Give the palestinians their land back. And all will be fine.

      HeySeus - 2011-02-03 18:34

      Amen to that Mozy1. Google who has the most nuclear weapons and who has already used them. Unbelievable Hypocrites . Funny thing you can see the American ppl following the same line in a short while. They also had enough of being lied to and having entire populations murdered in their names. Women children being carpet bombed by freakin fighter jets..bloody hypocrites. America and its Allies We come to bring you democracy..let us bomb your asses first. Uranium poison your land for centuries. Kill your parents. Blow up your bridges. Steal your more weapons. I reckon thats a bargain. World is finally seeing who are the real terrorists despite their media control

  • HeySeus - 2011-02-03 18:36

    Finally something we can hope for..Balance in power. Rather the muslims have it this time as cleary the west has killed 450 million ppl in the past 150 years. Thats is an unbelievable number. If you look at muslim rule in the past, Christian Muslim, Jew, Atheist lived peacefully for centuries. A past even the west cannot deny.

  • abrham - 2011-02-03 19:54

    the us of a has been involved in over 100 countries in destabilising one or other party which does not suite their idea of democracy. when their twin towers were attacked they fell apart. to dish out is easy ...

      Jamesons - 2011-02-03 23:43

      ye, and one day muslims will convert all by the sword hey? If you dont support Allah, you get killled hey. Thats the reason why the the twin towers went down. It was the sword

      AmyBotha - 2011-02-04 06:15

      Seems like you the only one left that thinks the only 3 steel structured buildings collapsing because of fire damage in the history of mankind fell because of dude..amazing what ppl would believe. I would believe the countless scientists that proved with basic science those building came down with a demolition. So maybe you should pick on something else against the moslems. This 911 stuff getting stale. Moslems this Moslems that. Qaeda crap. My brother showed me a video with a Ex US general saying AlQaeda doesnt exist. Everything that is said is a lie and theres like tons of evidence. We have the damn internet ppl.

      Waleed - 2011-02-04 12:00

      @jamesons... you mean like the Crusades?..... show me one word in the Quran where the word sword is mentioned?.... i bet you i can show you more than 200 instances in other religios books where that word or similar is written, yours most likely aswell... dont stereotype buddy, you only show your ignorance.. In ISLAM Muslims are taught that the is no complusion in religion, so maybe do some research on Islam before posting

      Truth etc. - 2011-02-05 10:43

      Waleed: Have you actually read the Quran? How about Surah 8:12 "I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads!" or Surah 9:5 "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them". From its earliest days non-believers were murdered in the name of Islam and this still continues. In Saudi Arabia the penalty for a Muslim to convert to another religion is death, but Waleed says Islam teaches there is no compulsion in religion?

      TruthSeeka - 2011-02-05 11:51

      Lets take it Verse by Verse. Looks like he is issued with the standard islamophobe quick access internet kit. Surah 8:12, Read the verse after. I made it convenient. Some Pasted below. This verse was revealed before the muslims went into specific battle against pagans that were ready to do war. Why is it a problem to strick fear into their hearts? Do you throw flowers against an approaching army? For reference, the battle is called Badr. Plenty learned scholars can expand. [8:15] O you who believe, if you encounter the disbelievers who have mobilized against you, do not turn back and flee. Suran 9:5 Read the verses before and after for context. I pasted below for convenience. Google these verse for background from learned scholars and shock yourself. 9:12 But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained. “Will you not fight against those who have broken their oaths and have conspired to banush the messenger? They were the first to attack you.” (Al-Taubah 9: 12) PS Your other buddies are much more skillful at quoting the Quran out of context. Keep up the good work. You actually make people read the Quran. We only deal with proof. Here is an online copy of the english and arabic Quran:

  • Kevin Rack - 2011-02-04 04:19

    The US are a empire in decline. In fact it might even be one of the shortest terms for an empire in the worlds history. You cannot impose your dictators on others been a Democracy. The biggest issue for their decline is foreign minorities having such great influence over decsion makers. This influence is not in the American peoples intrest either. You cannot preach Demcocracy but support dictators. Spreading Democracy US style is the same as the Spanish, The Moors or English colonisation in the name of religion. Obama should take the most outrageous steps and visit Egypt and assist in the transfer of power or face aleination from all the new arab democracies.

      TruthSeeka - 2011-02-04 07:09

      have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight

  • ayubmy - 2011-02-04 14:37

    The US purports to be the upholder of " Human Rights". Whose rights?? The Egyptian people have been suppressed by a regime that is supported by " S1,5 Billion" AId from the USA. Its not aid, its money to Mubarak and his cronies to keep the US and Israel happy. God bless the Egyptian People.

      christine - 2011-02-06 10:58

      I couldent agree more with what u say---the usa go on and on and on about democracy and the will of the people ADNAUSUM, but when push comes to shove ---""well never mind our mate mubarack[who is a DICTATOR ] he is a good guy--,stuff democracy --free access to Sues is more important than democracy --AND they let us fly in their airspace and land our planes in their country and also they dont attack our mates in Isreal --for all these reasons --stuff democracy---be wary of american politicians they have DOUBLE STANDARDSwhere is the usa support for the people of egypt who have been abused by mubarack--it gone with the wind

  • Shahied - 2011-02-06 12:40

    Few years ago Nelson Mandela was berated for saying "the United States is a thread to world peace" true!!. They try to manupilate the world with their money.Hamas is an democraticaly elected body the USA don't recognise because they refuse to be a USA puppet and refuse to dance to it's tune.Egypt give the US shiver's as it seem unlikely to continue as it's puppet!!Serves you right you bugger's.

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