What Does the Egyptian Revolution Mean for the United States Government?

The US has not supported democratization in Egypt, or really anywhere else in the Middle East, because US policymakers would not like the outcome of democratic processes.  Policies made by governments that are freely elected by the people would not reflect, would not support, let alone enforce, the US polices that are unpopular, whether that’s the siege of Gaza, whether that’s the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the people in Egypt are not going to continue to support, let alone enforce, these very, very unpopular policies. . . .  I think we need to really look at what President Obama has done, what he is responsible for on his watch, and how he is going to possibly . . . respond to this in a constructive way. . . .  If he continues to pursue US policy as he has, he is going to be at odds with the people on the ground not only in Egypt but, I think, throughout the Middle East. . . .   I think Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Clinton were on the phone, as much as they possibly could, with Omar Suleiman, trying to orchestrate his takeover after they realized that Mubarak wasn’t going to be able to carry on.  They wanted to have Omar Suleiman, the CIA’s point man in Egypt, the person responsible for the rendition program that brought Egyptians home to be tortured; they did everything they could to orchestrate his continued rule over Egypt. . . .

I think [the Egyptian revolution] is a good situation for the American people.  It certainly puts the American administration, President Obama, in a very difficult dilemma.  He has to now deal with the fact that he would be dealing with a government, however this turns out, that is going to have to reflect more the will of the people, and the will of the people is not to support the blockade of Gaza, is not to support the unending occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, is not, potentially, to support the bombing of Iran.

Hillary Mann Leverett is CEO of Strategic Energy and Global Analysis (STRATEGA), a political risk consultancy.  She is also Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.  With Flynt Leverett, she keeps a blog The Race for Iran: <www.raceforiran.com>.  The video above compiles Al Jazeera’s interviews with Hillary Mann Leverett on 11 February 2011.  The text above is an edited partial transcript of the interview.  Cf. Hassan Nasrallah, “On the Egyptian Revolution and the American Strategy” (7 February 2011); and “[T]he White House and the State Department were already discussing setting aside new funds to bolster the rise of secular political parties. . . .  [O]ther officials have acknowledged privately that if Egypt turns into a noisy democracy that includes the Muslim Brotherhood, there will undoubtedly be political debate in Egypt about whether the 1979 peace accord with Israel should remain in force” (David E. Sanger, “Obama Presses Egypt’s Military on Democracy,” New York Times, 11 February 2011).

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