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Revolutions When US Presidents Are Soft: Might Egypt Be Like Iran?

Politics / Middle East Feb 01, 2011 - 04:15 AM GMT

By: Andrew_Butter

Politics

There is a lot in common between the Iranian Revolution and the current almost revolution in Egypt that is being played out.

In both cases there was a huge popular uprising against a corrupt, brutal, venal and un-democratic government who relied heavily on police, secret police, and torture, to stay in power, headed up by self admiring despots.


And then, and this is the kicker, when the police were over-run and the army were called onto the streets to keep order, they didn’t start machine-gunning the population and running over them with tanks.

Some American Presidents tolerate that sort of thing, they say “tut-tut, but of course law and order must be maintained”. And the alternative is state-terrorism and threats down the road, to (US) National security, and of course, International Law, so sometimes leaders must be “tough”.

As if International Laws as in those feebly enforced by the International Criminal Court, or even the bits of the Geneva Convention they don’t like (as in the ones about protecting civilian populations and torture), have ever bothered “tough” American Presidents.

So the “tough-guys” say, “open up, we will turn a blind eye”. The idea there goes with the CIA maxim, “we know he’s a son of a female dog, but he is OUR son of a female dog”.

For years President Mubarak has been a very loyal son of a female dog insofar as American interests are concerned. And we can conveniently forget that the terrorist cell that spawned the 9/11 atrocity was born and bread in Egypt and all Osama did was provide financing; all the more reason of course to support the torture cells in Egypt that were “tough on terrorism”. Just as the torture cells in Iran under the Shah that were “tough on communism”, were tacitly supported.

Then you get a change of government in USA and then the game changes. President Carter was “soft”, he vacillated, he talked about “fair-and-free-elections” (now where have I heard that one recently), and that’s why the Shah hesitated on giving the order to shoot-to-kill.

That’s what’s happening in Egypt. There comes a point, when the army is embraced by the crowds, that it’s game-over.

There is another thing about Egypt which is similar to the situation in Iran, when the population rose out and threw out their (previously) American supported despot.

Then there was no clear political successor. Many people forget that in Iran the people on the streets were mainly, and certainly initially, “liberal-minded” (or in CIA parlance at the time “commies”).

 The banner of “Islam” was in many cases little more than shorthand; or a flag of convenience for students and young people. That revolution was not driven by the clerics, Khomeini wasn’t even interested in setting up a government, he was just anti-Shah and anti the persecution of Islam by the Shah, and the people on the streets were not “Islamist” any more than they all believed in Islam.

Not many people, particularly the Americans, realised that the hostage taking at the US Embassy was orchestrated by leftists, not the clerics. Sure the clerics exploited that, and the clerics that corrupted the revolution exploited it more, but in many ways it was a cry of help for USA to act to help promote democracy and good governance; that was ignored.

In Egypt there is no clear successor to Mubarak, that’s the problem with regimes which brutally stamp out any dissent.

All that’s left is Islam, which is the natural fall-back. Yet the experience of governments that have been dominated by the sacred laws of Islam (the Taliban and Iran), rather than governments that simply respect Islam and acknowledge its importance (UAE is a good example), is less than encouraging.

Let’s see if the American Government, which did more than anyone to help create the power-base for President Mubarak, will act a little smarter with revolution in Egypt, that they reacted to the revolution in Iran.

By Andrew Butter

Twenty years doing market analysis and valuations for investors in the Middle East, USA, and Europe; currently writing a book about BubbleOmics. Andrew Butter is managing partner of ABMC, an investment advisory firm, based in Dubai ( hbutter@eim.ae ), that he setup in 1999, and is has been involved advising on large scale real estate investments, mainly in Dubai.

© 2011 Copyright Andrew Butter- All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Andrew Butter Archive

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