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Why Should We Care About the Revolts in Egypt?

Much of the recent news has been focused on what’s going on in Egypt. Although this Middle Eastern country may seem like it is half a world away, these events are extremely relevant to the United States’ foreign policy and are very important to understand. In this blog post I will try to make the events as clear as possible.

The Tunisian uprising on January 14, 2011, forcing President Zine el-Abidine out of power, inspired an uprising against the current Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarrak. Riots have poured into the streets of Egyptian cities since January 25, 2011. Mubarrak, a pro-Western leader, has been in control since the assassination of Anwar Sadat, a famous Egyptian leader for making peace with Israel.

While in power for nearly 30 years, Mubarrak has been connected with corruption and is notorious for stumping Egypt’s democratic system. This corruption can be seen in the most recent elections in November, in which Mubarrak won over 90 percent of Egyptian votes, arising feelings of suspicion and question from many foreign observers.

The chaos and violence in Egpyt has led to military control of much of the country. A number of protesters have perished in the hostile revolts and Egypt is under a strict curfew. Interestingly enough, the protests originated on Facebook and Twitter, with the organization from Egyptian citizens. Who knew that social media websites could have such a profound effect?

The world has responded to this crisis in a number of ways. China, fearing revolt in their country, has continued to censor its news of the Egyptian crisis. Over 457 million Internet users and 180 bloggers can no longer use the Chinese word for “Egypt.” Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, told Yemeni parliament that he would not be seeking reelection, due to the weakening of his power, a direct result of the Tunisian and Egyptian protests.

Israel, one of the US’ most valuable allies, is extremely concerned, due to the importance of Egypt in Israeli/Palestinian negotiation over its history. Here at home, President Obama has said that a transition to representative government “must begin now.” Although Obama has not said that Mubarak should step down directly, that is his stance on the issue.

With all of these responses in mind, one might ask: what are the likely outcomes of the Egyptian situation? Perhaps the most unlikely result is that Mubarrak will stay in power and the revolts will die down. Another option would be the rise of a more democratic leader. However, the most likely and alarming outcome, for the West especially, is the rise to power of The Muslim Brotherhood. This terrorist organization, currently banned from political activity in Egypt, could potentially send one of its followers to power.

This event will definitely be something that we continue to see in world news. The revolts in Egypt are not only a threat to Mubarrak’s power, but to the entire democratic world as well.

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