U.S. Iranian competition:who will crown next Egyptian ruler?

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PostThu Feb 10, 2011 4:09 pm » by Proto

In a recent article, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of Al-'Arabiya TV and former editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, attacked both Iran and the U.S. for their support of the Egyptian protestors and their demand for the immediate resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Al-Rashed explained that America's open support of the protestors was, in fact, detrimental to their cause, since it was preventing them from reaching an arrangement with the Egyptian regime over reforms.

"I believe this is the first time American president Barack Obama and Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have ever been in agreement. Both have supported the demonstrators against the Egyptian regime, and announced their keen support for the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Each of them backed by his respective officials: the American vice president reiterated U.S. support for the demonstrators, and the head of Iran's Shura Council competed with him in doing so. All that is left is for mass demonstrations to be held in Tehran and Washington demanding Mubarak's ousting. Are we witnessing an American-Iranian competition over who will crown the next Egyptian president?

"I well understand the position of Iran, which is overjoyed at the fall of the Cairo regime, since Egypt is one of the region's central pillars. Overthrowing the regime, weakening it or keeping it occupied with concerns over its own survival, suits the interests of expansionist Iran. For years now, it has been waging an undeclared war against Egypt. However, I am totally baffled by the keenness of the White House and the U.S. State Department to openly demand Mubarak's ousting. Beyond the fact that the Egyptians reject these external dictates and this interference in a matter of utmost importance to them, they do not consider the current American position helpful to their cause...

"Washington's calls weaken each side's willingness to negotiate with the other, and sends false signals that deepen the crisis. The dispute between the presidential palace and the protestors in Tahrir Square in Cairo revolves around replacing the president or the regime. There seem to be an agreement over Mubarak's leaving; in fact, he himself has promised to resign, and this may occur soon. But as for the opposition's calls for a regime change, and its demands to establish an interim government and hand the power over to [the opposition – these demands have been rejected by the regime. By sticking its nose in the crisis, Washington will not gain respect for [having had] any influence, nor any gratitude for effecting change. On the contrary, it will only weaken the regime, make things difficult for the opposition, and deepen the rift between the two sides."

"This Competition Over the Fall of the Regime is a Grave Error on the Part of Both Sides, the Iranians and the Americans"

"This has led many to try to explain Washington's position. Was it payback for Mubarak's refusal to accept the advice of the American administration, which repeatedly demanded that he implement reforms, and for his decision to permit himself to completely exclude the opposition [from the Parliament] in the last elections? Does Washington wish to mend its ties with the new powers in Egypt, such as the youth and the opposition, by taking a stance in their support? Or is it an international competition for influence on events and their outcomes?

"I believe that this competition over the fall of the regime is a grave error on the part of both sides, the Iranians and the Americans. Even if new faces from the opposition [join] the government, the principles of Egypt's foreign policy will remain unchanged, especially the opposition to Iranian expansionism. Washington has always declared its support of legitimate governments – until they fall. And when they fall, the U.S. legitimizes the new victor, thus serving its own interests. But now, it is taking a large risk by interfering and openly demanding the immediate resignation of the president – for this provokes numerous sectors in Egypt, arouses concern throughout the region, and encourages Iran to intervene as well.

"As for Khamenei, he gave the Egyptian opposition the kiss of death when he dedicated 20 minutes of his Friday sermon to an address in Arabic in which he expressed support for the demonstrators, claiming that they were marching in the path of the Islamic Revolution and calling for the establishment of a religious regime in Egypt, similar to Iran's. This will cause the enemies of Iran and those who fear it to withdraw their support from the Egyptian opposition movement, which began as a spontaneous and youthful movement. The rest know that the Iranian regime is a sick and notorious model,which is itself facing a counterrevolution from its own youth, whom it has brutally suppressed.

"Leave Egypt to the Egyptians, so that they can resolve their affairs quickly and independently..."

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 5, 2011.


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