By Barry Rubin
Who’d possibly have thought it? Answer: Anybody who understands the Middle East. You see, the Obama Administration rushed to get rid of the Mubarak government in the belief that this action would make Egyptians see that they are simply wonderful people. This would assure that Egypt and America remained good buddies forever.
Unfortunately, though, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Cairo and they weren’t delighted to see her. In fact, those hip, Facebook-using youth that the Obama Administration kept extolling refused to see her at all! Here’s what Google executive plus youth revolution leader Wael Ghonim tweeted:
“Dear Hillary Clinton, thanks to the Internet, we can search for anyone’s quotes within any period of time. Did you ever try this?”
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Get it? We looked up all the nice things you said about President Husni Mubarak. We don’t like you. And no matter what you do, since you can’t change that history, we still won’t like you.
Of course, this gives the mass media a way out since it can claim that the problem is–once again!–past American sins rather than contemporary Arab radicalism and the popularity to be derived from demagoguery.
Anti-Americanism is going to explode now in Egypt, in all of its leftist, Islamist, and nationalist varieties. Candidates will compete to prove they aren’t friendly to America. Egypt won’t do anything the United States asks for.
What? Don’t they thank President Barack Obama for pushing Mubarak out, all of his efforts to show Muslims and Arabs how much he loves them, or the Cairo speech where he extolled Islam?
Not at all! They don’t even remember last month when Obama told Mubarak leave power and his spokesman said that he should have left “yesterday.” Here’s what the youth movement coalition said:
“The US administration took Egypt’s revolution lightly and supported the old regime while Egyptian blood was being spilled.”
Lesson One: Just because you like them, that doesn’t mean they like you.
Lesson Two: Just because you help them doesn’t mean they will help you.
Lesson Three: Just because you pretend that they are really moderates doesn’t mean it’s true.
Let me put it in young, hip terms: If America applied to join their Facebook page, they’d click the “block” and “report as abusive” buttons.
In other words, they remember what they want to remember in the way they want to remember it. America’s assigned roles are, simultaneously, overpowerful bully to be hated and defeated weakling to be beaten up.
After all, Mr. Ghonim has had no trouble forgiving the Muslim Brotherhood and Yusuf al-Qaradawi for what they’ve done and said before. In fact, these youth groups support Muhammad El Baradei’s coalition which is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, these youth groups worked secretly with the Muslim Brotherhood for two years before the revolution. You won’t find that in the mass media but it’s true.
Has this kind of thing happened before? Why, yes it has! President Jimmy Carter helped push out the shah of Iran, then told the new regime that he really, truly wanted to be its friend. Let’s just say that it didn’t work out very well.
I’m not saying that Egypt is about to be taken over by Islamists. I’m saying that Egypt is about to be taken over by radicals who hate America. They might just happen to be radical nationalists with some leftists thrown in, as well as Islamists.
Thus, the U.S.-Egypt alliance—it wasn’t formalized but that’s what it was—is now over. So is the U.S.-Turkey alliance. And the U.S.-Saudi alliance isn’t doing too well either. The Palestinian Authority has refused two years of U.S. efforts to get it into serious negotiations with Israel, something Western media and governments don’t even notice.
Now let me see: The Iran-Syria-Hamas-Hizballah Islamist, anti-American alliance is now the Iran-Syria-Hamas-Hizballah-Turkish government-Lebanese government Islamist, anti-American alliance.
On the “positive” side, the Indian navy has stepped up to fight the Somali pirates, while the Saudis are taking the lead in saving Bahrain from joining the other side. Israel is successfully defending itself. Nobody is depending on the U.S. government any more because they know they cannot do so.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, everyone is congratulating each other on what a great job they are doing.
Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics and The Muslim Brotherhood (Palgrave-Macmillan); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, a study of Arab reform movements (Wiley). GLORIA Center site: http://www.gloria-center.org His blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.