Western powers have long been avid supporters of Hosni Mubarak, and before that of Anwar Sadat; they weren’t so keen on Nasser. But Mubarak has towed the (mostly) American line faithfully and has been handsomely rewarded, primarily with guns. The other payment he and his regime received was of course the blind eye the West turned to the oppressive measures taken against the Egyptian population. No concern was expressed about the 93% vote he secured in the latest elections, so why have Obama, Cameron and company suddenly started to call for political reform now?
The reason is that they know Mubarak’s days are numbered and the next regime will not be favourably disposed towards those who supported him. The West now knows that it needs to distance itself from Mubarak because whoever takes power, the Army, a secular, civilian government or one lead by the Muslim Brotherhood, they will need to suck up to it.
But the Egyptian people are not easily fooled. They know that Mubarak was kept in power by the West, and that consequently it was the West that prolonged their oppression, so what will they do?
Of course they need the 1.2 million British tourists that visit each year along with the millions of other Westerners; they need the continued billion dollar aid package they have enjoyed for decades, so they will probably remain favourably disposed to the West. And of course the West will be anxious to pay up to prevent Egypt from re-aligning itself with some sort of Islamic power block.
Of course Mubarak should go – should have gone a long time ago, but it just sticks in my throat to see Western leaders lining up to persuade one of their oldest friends and allies to step down not that they find themselves on the losing side. Their concern for the Egyptian people and political reform is nothing more than self interest.
Who will be the next hot potato they drop? The kings of Jordan and Morocco perhaps?