Courtesy MCT Campus
Events in Egypt are seesawing so quickly it is difficult to assess if the current trajectory points toward gradually escalating violence or a more orderly transition that will end President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Yet here is what is clearly not happening — an Iranian-style Islamic Revolution.
As anyone watching television can see, the demonstrators filling Tahrir Square are not Islamic radicals calling for the equivalent of Ayatollah Khomeini to replace Mubarak. They are people from all walks of life demanding a more democratic form of government.
Many are highly educated, wired to the Internet and obvious admirers of Western institutions. With few exceptions, the banners and slogans of this courageous throng have not focused on religious concerns.
Egypt is not Iran. It has a different culture, a different history and a different language. Yet you wouldn’t know that from the blather spewing forth from many commentators, politicians and propagandists in Iran itself.
In a speech Friday, the Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the protests are “echoes of the voice of the Iranian nation.” Clearly Khamenei hopes the protests will elevate Iran’s stature and influence in the region.
Undoubtedly, Mubarak himself is cheering efforts by U.S. pundits and others to make it seem like Islamist revolutionaries are driving the demonstrations.
Fortunately, not all Republicans are attempting to politicize the Egypt crisis for their own purposes. House Speaker John Boehner has praised the Obama administration’s cautious, studious approach in urging Mubarak to hand over power. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “America ought to speak with one voice.”
While there is undoubtedly a risk Egypt could descend into a civil war with uncertain results, that is most likely to happen if Mubarak clings to power and continues to unleash his goon squads against demonstrators.
There’s lots to worry about as Egypt and the Arab world undergo this historic moment of tumult.
Yet fearmongers do U.S. interests no service by embracing ludicrous and malicious analogies.