With Egypt Transformed,
Has the US Lost the Reins
over Events in the Middle East?
Translated By Nathan Hsu
23 November 2012
Edited by Keturah Hetrick
China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)
Israel has always boasted of being the only true democracy in the Middle East, but its ability to walk the path of democracy and stay relatively stable has mainly relied upon the United States' undemocratic methods backing it behind the scenes. Egypt's previous Mubarak dictatorship took its orders from the U.S. for a long time. Internally, it used heavy pressure to control anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli sentiment among Muslims, while externally it sealed the border with Gaza, refusing to aid Palestinians in their war of resistance against Israel.
The U.S. has rarely criticized the dictatorial regimes of other Middle Eastern states, so long as they remain politically stable and are not enemies of Israel. As a result, only Palestine and its regional allies, such as Iran, are open to confrontation with Israel, comprising many different sects, but still divided.
The Arab Spring has changed the game in the Middle East; Israel is no longer the sole democratic state. The Muslim Brotherhood was completely marginalized during the Mubarak era, but in the blink of an eye became the primary political force. Mr. Morsi, Egypt's first democratically-elected president who came into power, belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalated, Egypt left the sidelines and took the lead in sending its prime minister personally to Gaza to show their support to the Palestinians. Iraq, Lebanon and other Arab states followed suit, and even NATO member Turkey sent its foreign minister to participate. These nations united to appeal for a ceasefire, but their actions were obviously to condemn Israel for escalating the conflict.
Besides Egypt, the Arab states in strong support of the Palestinians now include other truly democratically-elected governments. Their support for the Palestinians is clearly a democratic mandate. This is because they cannot be like Mubarak was in the past and turn a blind eye to the will of the people or use pressure to fight the appeals of the Muslim world to unite and oppose the U.S. and Israeli enemy.
Can the U.S. hold onto the reins in these new circumstances? The direct approach would most likely be to provide more advanced weaponry to Israel, but it would stand at a clear disadvantage in diplomacy and international opinion. Accordingly, its allies in the UK and European Union have explicitly expressed that they do not condone Israel's probable ground-based invasion of Gaza, even though their rhetoric is still pro-Israel. Secretary of State Clinton’s hastening to the Middle East to mediate after accompanying Obama on his visit to three countries in Southeast Asia is not without reason.
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