Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Egypt Seeking to Renew Relations with Iran

Found this news interesting considering when we had our Egypt debate, we all agreed that we wouldn't really know how the Middle East would look like if the US backed Egypt. Now that Mubarak is out, does this news (only the early stage of potential diplomatic relations between two countries that haven't had such relations since 1980) somehow justify what we thought about Egypt and the future of the Middle East? I should note that this is obviously a narrow talk to get into, leaving out Libya, Yemen, Syria and other current Middle-Eastern uprisings that are occurring as we speak.


Ryan Karerat said...

I don't think that Egypt renewing diplomatic ties with Iran is news that, on its own, should cause any big panic. They would be one of 100 countries in the world with diplomatic relations with Iran, and it's important to note the economic benefits that countries like Turkey and India have garnered from trade with Iran. For a country like Egypt that is interested in modernizing and expanding their economy, this means expanding into new markets.

It might make us uncomfortable, but what's more American than shady trade partners in the name of good old fashioned capitalism, amirite?

That said, I don't think there's any doubt that we're on a road of upheaval, uncertainty, and certainly potentially dangerous externalities that come out of Egypt as they embark on this attempted shift towards democracy. From all the literature I've read, toppled authoritarian regimes transitioning towards democracy are usually initially dominated by religious organizations, because when it finally came time to start organizing for elections they are one of the only organizations with existing infrastructure and manpower, giving them a head start over secular democrats. But secular organizations do catch up; it generally takes a couple of election cycles for them to properly organize and taking back power from religious political parties. I think that's what we're seeing in Egypt. If the recent referendum that accelerated the pace of elections is any indication, the Muslim Brotherhood right now has the ability to flex more political muscle (particularly in less-educated rural areas) and will do so; that's going to be tricky to deal with. I don't think this means Egypt is going to start launching missles into Israel or anything, but the extent of their ties and trade patterns with other countries (particularly Iran) will certainly be something to be vigilant about.

But to me, there's no other choice but to deal with this as it's presented to us. There is still a strong and eager secular movement within Egypt and they're not simply going to go away; it simply takes a little while for those organizations to gain a proper foothold in a country's political realm. Clinging to a despot like Mubarak would have been a horribly short-sighted and ultimately counterproductive measure. This is the tricky part, the rocky transition, but I have faith that we'll get there in the end.

Things might get a little worse before they start to get better, but they will get better.

jwhitney said...

I think you should've used this Dark Knight quote for your send off Ryan:

"The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming." - Harvey Dent

God, I'm good.

Ryan Karerat said...

Teach me your ways, oh Master Jedi Whitney.