Assalaamu alaykum

“Peace be with you” – that’s how Barack Obama greeted the audience at Cairo University in June 2009. During his speech in the “timeless city” he said

I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things:  the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.  These are not just American ideas; they are human rights.  And that is why we will support them everywhere.
President Obama, June 4, 2009

So where was that support for democracy and the rule of law during the last 10 days, Mr. President? Where was your commitment to democracy when a million Egyptians took to the streets and demanded just that: “the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.”

For the US President (or the VP) to tip-toe around the issue of the people of Egypt demanding an end to the oppressive 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak is an embarrassment. That regime has been supported way too long with Billions of taxpayer dollars. But, yet again, “peace” is defined by the administration’s political comfort zone, not by the rights of the people to self-determination. Yet again, “peace” is what’s convenient for the “international community” – just like in Cote D’Ivoire. In Egypt the status quo is convenient, because Mubarak promised not to threaten Israel. I understand that Israelis are nervous about Egypt’s unrest. And I unequivocally support the right of Israelis to live in peace and free from oppression. And I also support the right of Egyptians to do the same. I really don’t think that that’s mutually exclusive. On the contrary – I am certain that a democratic Egypt is a much better and more reliable neighbor to Israel than an Egypt that’s run by a corrupt dictator.

The situation in Cote D’Ivoire is the exact inverse of Egypt. There, a corrupt ruler – Gbagbo – is clinging to power and the UN wants his opponent – Ouattara – to take over, even though his opponent’s democratic credentials are no better. But Ouattara is much more convenient to the “international community” than the current ruler, who has been hostile to the AU and the UN.\

In Egypt, change is a risk. But change is coming. It would have been a great opportunity for “President Change” to say “Yes, you can!” to the Egyptian people and politely asked Mubarak to get out. One simple signal like that would have done more to encourage open, democratic society in the Middle East than years of war and forced regime change. Yet, President Obama chose to be president “small change” – once again. What a shame.

May Peace be with you, people of Egypt. But we have now seen that when you must, you kick butt! Good for you! Hang in there and good luck! Assalaamu alaykum!

Leave a Reply

NOTE: Only comments with no hyperlinks will be posted immmediately.

Security code: