Barry Rubin Egypt


Mr.Lightweight Badass?

Taking a look at an interesting US perspective regarding the future transition of power from father to son in Egypt (gleaned from the Wikileaks files), Barry Rubin mulls over a few possible scenarios that might be soon facing US foreign policy makers. The Tundra Tabloids isn’t so sure that Gamal, son of Hosni, will be keen on cutting the branch he’s sitting on, at least any time soon, but this is of course the Middle East, so anything is possible and it has to be addressed.

In the TT’s opinion, both sides have it in their own best interests in maintain the status quo to secure their own positions and future US aid to the Egyptian state. For those of you who don’t happen to know, Egypt is far more dependent upon US aid than Israel is of US loans.

The real question as I see it, is to whether or not either side would be willing to lose what they now have, through (a)  staging of a military coup against the young Mubarak and risk the possible takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood as the country is thrown into deep turmoil and (b) whether Gamal Mubarak himself would be even willing to bash the US in order to lift his credentials with the Arab street.

Either way it would appear that US aid to the Egyptian state would be threatened, but this is indeed the Middle East, where rational, logical thinking is in short supply, so anything is possible. KGS

Son of Mubarak: Succession Without Success?

By Barry Rubin

Some of the more interesting Wikileaks concern the U.S. diplomatic perspective on the succession in Egypt from President Husni Mubarak to his son, Gamal. Let’s remember that Egypt is the single most important country in the Arabic-speaking world. Dramatic instability there would be disastrous for U.S. interests. And it might happen.

Even compared to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Egypt has been remarkably passive in the region’s international affairs over the last two decades. It has not acted as one might have expected, by taking the lead in organizing the Arab nationalist opposition to Iran and revolutionary Islamism.

But Mubarak has certainly been aware of the threat. While Jordan’s King Abdallah compared Iran to an “octopus” reaching out its tentacles to seize control of the region, Mubarak called it a “cancer.” A U.S. State Department cable of April 28, 2009, reports:

“President Mubarak has made it clear that he sees Iran as Egypt’s—and the region’s — primary strategic threat. His already dangerous neighborhood, he has stressed, has only become more so since the fall of [Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein], who, as nasty as he was, nevertheless stood as a wall against Iran, according to Mubarak. He now sees Tehran’s hand moving with ease throughout the region, ‘from the Gulf to Morocco,’ as he told a recent congressional delegation.”

Yet Mubarak also stresses the immediate danger is not so much Iran getting nuclear weapons as it is Tehran’s subverting almost everyone else in the Middle East:

“While he will readily admit that the Iranian nuclear program is a strategic and existential threat to Egypt and the region, he sees that threat as relatively ‘long term.’ What has seized his immediate attention are Iran’s non-nuclear destabilizing actions such as support for Hama, media attacks, weapons and illicit funds smuggling, all of which add up in his mind to ‘Iranian influence spreading like a cancer from the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council countries] to Morocco.'”

Read it all here.

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