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U.S. should save face, take cues from past and stay neutral on issues in Egypt

In a domino effect, the Arab world has resorted to social uprising due to its displeasure with the continuous decline of the economic and political situation in its countries.

Rising unemployment, poverty, corruption and police abuses are some of the reasons why Tunisia, Lebanon and now Egypt have made widespread outcries by taking to the streets. Tunisia’s successful overthrow of dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali this past month has become the poster child of rebellion against rogue regimes in the Middle East. There is no telling what directions these countries will be taking yet.

It is to our dismay that one of our strongest allies in the region, Egypt, is under pressure for regime change. The Egyptian government is fighting to stay in power, despite the eruption of clear discontent from its people.

President Hosni Mubarak, an autocrat in power for 30 years (since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981), claimed in a speech on Friday that he would be putting new people in power, in an attempt to bring reform to Egypt.

This message clearly undermines what the Egyptian people want: a regime change, not a change in the regime.

Despite Egyptian government’s oppressive tactics, which includes a serious crackdown on the Internet that resulted in a blackout and a block on the SMS capabilities on cell phones, the Obama administration is standing by its ally government: a mere dictatorship.

Vice President Joe Biden told PBS NewsHour that he would not refer to Mubarak as a dictator, and that Mubarak had been responsible in his role concerning Middle East peace efforts.

Biden reportedly went on to question twice whether the Egyptian people were making legitimate complaints about Mubarak’s regime.If the Egyptian people’s demand for an improvement in their economic situation and civil liberties is not a legitimate reason to oust Mubarak, then what is? The man clearly leads an oppressive regime if he is blocking access to information technology and his people complain of human rights abuses.

Biden’s words are a punch in the stomach to people suffering at the hands of oppressive regimes alike. How would the international community have reacted if similar things were said about Iran’s 2009 post-election protests, the Green Revolution?

The very things the Iranian people demanded are no different from what motivated the Egyptians to take to the streets.

The direction the Obama administration seems to be tilting toward is not a favorable one. It is bound to bring about disappointment. Their demonstration of “solidarity” for democracy is almost hypocritical of what the U.S. stands for.

This leads me to believe that we have not learned from our past mistakes.

Supporting oppressive regimes such as that of Mubarak’s will backfire on the United States’ foreign policy as it has in the past.

It is best we not take a stance and watch things unfold during the next couple of weeks in Egypt. This way, no matter what happens, the fingers will not be pointed in our direction. Then we can save face in a region whose respect is integral to U.S. interests, and is vital to the security of our military presence in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

At this point, we should play the game right and watch where this special set of dominoes stops falling.


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