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Why the US Fears Arab Democracy

As much as Mubarak is a slave to US foreign policy, Obama is boxed in by geopolitical imperatives and enormous corporate interests he cannot even dream of upsetting.

Anybody believing that Washington's "orderly transition" led by Vice President Omar Suleiman (aka Sheikh al-Torture, according to protesters and human-rights activists) could satisfy Egyptian popular will believes Adolf Hitler or  Joseph Stalin could have gotten away with a facelift. 

The young, urban masses in Egypt fighting for bread, freedom, democracy, Internet, jobs and a decent future - as well as their counterparts across the Arab world, two-thirds of the overall population - see right through it. 

Real "change we can believe in" (the Egyptian version) means not only getting rid of the dictator of 30 years but of his torturer-in-chief, who happens to be so far a key interlocutor of Washington, Tel Aviv and European capitals, and a key exponent of a regime rotten to the core, dependent on pitiless exploitation of its own citizens, and receiver of US aid to pursue agendas virtually no one would vote for in the Arab world. 

"Orderly transition" may also be regarded as a ghastly euphemism for sitting on the fence - way distinct from an explicit call for democracy. The White House has morphed into a succession of white pretzels trying to salvage the concept. But the fact is that as much as Pharaoh Mubarak is a slave to US foreign policy, US President Barack Obama is boxed in by geopolitical imperatives and enormous corporate interests he cannot even dream of upsetting. 

A crash course on 'stability' 

To cut to the chase; it's all about oil and Israel. That's the essence of Washington's foreign policy for the past six decades as far as the Middle East, Arabs and the Muslim world at large are concerned. This has implied coddling an array of dictators and assorted autocracies, and sprinkling their countries with  military bases. A crucial example - the story on how the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) brought down democracy in Iran in 1953.  Geostrategically, the code word for this state of things is "stability". 

Egypt plays out a very special strategic role. This is how Obama himself spelled out the strategic value of Hosni Mubarak and his regime when he went to Cairo in June 2009 to deliver his freedom message to the Arab world; "He has been a stalwart ally in many respects to the United States. He has sustained peace with Israel which is a very difficult thing to do in that region." 

So as one of the pillars of the "cold peace" with Israel, Egypt is a paradigm. It's a bipartisan phenomenon, in US terms; Republicans and Democrats see it the same way. There's the Suez Canal, through which flows 1.8 million barrels of crude a day. But "partner with Israel" in the 1979 Camp David accords is what explains all the billions of dollars showered on the Egyptian military and the three decades of unconditional support to the corrupt Mubarak military dictatorship (and make no mistake, the US implication in that vast shop of horrors is all documented in the vaults of the regime). On a parallel track, "stability" also translates as a lousy quality of life for virtually the totality of Egyptians; democratic rights of local populations are always secondary to geostrategic considerations. 

The dominant geostrategic status quo in the Middle East, that is the Washington/Tel Aviv axis, has hypnotized Western public opinion to accept the myth that Arab democracy = Islamic fundamentalism, disregarding how all attempts of popular rebellion in the Arab world over the past decades have been squashed. The Israeli  government goes beyond this equation; for Tel Aviv it's Islamic fundamentalism = terrorism, ergo, Arab democracy = terrorism. Under this framework, Mubarakism is an essential ally more than ever. 

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