Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What's in it for Gamal?

Hosni Mubarak has become even more of a model puppet for Israel and the United States than ever recently. Including a lurch towards Israel during the Obama administration - where Egypt has come into active opposition to Iran and Hezbollah. This is just speculation, but I have a feeling the reward for this behavior, in Mubarak's expectation, is more than the speech - but US acquiesencse to a dictatorial succession of power to his son Gamal.

There are two factors that lead me to suspect this. One is, again, that Mubarak is more openly anti-Iran than he was two years ago, and seemingly more anti-Iran than he was on US election day. The other factor is that Obama is moving towards openly espousing a "we'll mind our own business" policy about pro-US dictatorship.

Obama in both of his recent interviews said the US will lead in matters of democracy by example, but will not apply pressure on pro-US dictatorships. He was not asked follow-ups and obviously was becoming evasive to these questions.

When it comes to relations with Israel the US does not lead by example, but applies a tremendous amount of pressure. A fraction of the pressure the US applies on Egypt to ensure that Egypt does not, as the Egyptian people would prefer, open the Rafah crossing with Gaza for goods, would be enough to convince Mubarak to hold fair elections.

So the US has issues where it chooses not to apply pressure, but to "lead by example" (leaving aside what example is being set in several cases) and issues where it chooses to play a very active role in applying pressure.

I suspect Obama's effort to rationalize "leading by example, not pressure" towards democracy in Egypt is fueled by an agreement that Mubarak will be as cooperative as possible in gaining regional acceptance for Israel in exchange for the US being as cooperative as possible in gaining acceptance for Gamal's future accession to power.

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