US supports both sides in Egypt

Protests continue across Egypt, calling on US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down and bring about democratic governmental change. How will this affect US interests?

Mark Brzezinski, a foreign policy expert and a lawyer at McGuireWoods explained other countries, such as Turkey, a democracy, and Iran, a theocracy, both went through important transitions in different political directions. Egypt is poised to be next, but the outcome depends on the choices that are made.

He explained the US supports democracy, and realizes the people of Egypt want change. However, the US government would not support the emergence of a Muslim Brotherhood lead government, even if it was popularly elected.

“They [US] are trying to provide advice to the Mubarak government,” Brzezinski said. “It’s pretty clear the Mubarak government has to go. But to go in what way? To continue to stumble along when in a few months an even more aggressive popular uprising might occur and topple the government and then we don’t know the results of it and it could be a Muslim Brotherhood type government; which the US would not want. Or it could be a transition according to the Constitution of Egypt.”

Under a Constitutional transition the Vice President would take power, leading to elections in two months.

Many argue what is good for the US is good for the world. Brzezinski argued the salutation in Africa, and respectively also in Tunisia and elsewhere it the Arab world, are bigger than that sentiment.

It, of course, is about popular rule, separate of powers and decentralization of power. But, it was also a reaction against mafia style government,” he explained. “What I am talking about right now is endemic corruption. The Egyptians want to be able to participate in their own country; economically and politically. That’s what they are seeking to do. This is not about what the Americans want.”

American foreign policy is ripe with examples of embracing and then pushing away foreign governments and allies, Pakistan is a strong example of this.

“Where we have embraced and then pushed away the government over the last 30 years. That’s why the Paks only trust us so much in terms of what we say. So, what we [US] have to do is come up with a strategy that seeks in the short-term to create a result that is good for the Egyptian people, but in the long term is consistent. Because that will give our relationship credibility,” Brzezinski added.

Some in the US have however advocated the US cease involvement and intervention in the region, including withdraws of all aid, from both Egypt and even Israel.

We have to support our close friend and ally Israel in the Middle East. It is the only genuine democracy in the Middle East,” he said.

He further explained aid does not have to be political, citing tsunami relief, Pakistan flood aid, and others monies which are tied to humanitarianism and the needs of the people.

America is very generous around the world.” Brzezinski remarked. “That very much advances our interest. Look at the good will that some of those assistance programs generated. That very much helped us.

Overall, the US supports freedom of expression, student groups, women’s groups, and many others globally. This includes groups in Egypt who are protesting the government.

It’s been very clear where we wanted the direction of reform to go in Egypt by us supporting these groups,” said Brzezinski. “Change is in the air in the Middle East. Be careful who you embrace.”