America and Egypt- Stand With Your Allies?
The events that have transpired over the last few days in Egypt are breathing life into protesters and exhausting others. After speaking with family, I have gained insight as to what happens at night in Egypt. In America we have heard of the neighborhood watch groups, but allow me to paint a picture as to what it looks like. The men gain minimal hours of sleep during the day and at night stay outside walking around protecting their neighborhoods. The instruments of choice for protection are baseball bats, knives, and guns. Though guns are not allowed to be in the procession of citizens, those who have served in the military usually have obtained licenses to keep arms.
The men in neighborhoods are using a lot of strong instincts in knowing how to handle the situations at night. Homes are keeping their lights on. One reason is to give looters the appearance of an alert household, but as I heard today, “we must keep the lights on in the house because if the lamp posts go out, we need the light to stay vigilant”. These neighborhood watch groups are signifying themselves by wearing similar garments. For instance, you may see everyone in a neighborhood wear red ribbons around their arm. This provides an opportunity to easily identify outsiders as no two neighborhoods use similar garments. As looters approach, shots are fired to deter them from vandalizing homes in the neighborhoods. It is likely that night patrols will not cease until Mubarak is dethroned.
The question that is being raised most often is, what should America do moving forward? Should we speak out against Mubarak? How do we treat one of our most trusted allies in the Middle East? I do not pretend to be a fellow within the Council on Foreign Relations, however, Egypt is changing before our eyes and America must stand with Egyptians at this moment. As the men in the night watch describe the situation, “These protesters will not stop until Mubarak is out of office. There is no timetable on the passion for change.” As this being the sentiment shared by most Egyptians, it must be acknowledged by President Obama and his administration that standing with a man who is on his way out could damage the relations that the United States will need with the leader that Egyptians put into power.
If however, Mubarak does not step down soon, should United States officials try to broker peace between Mubarak and the people of Egypt? Absolutely not. This is a revolt that is led by the Egyptian people and they expect to finish the work themselves. A detrimental move for the United States would be for Middle Eastern countries to look at the next Egyptian leader as “hand-picked” by the United States. President Obama is making the right decisions in advising towards a peaceful end while allowing the Egyptian people to handle what they see as most important.
The United States is and will continue to be seen as the global police, however, we have seen how the Egyptians view police. For this reason, President Obama must stand with the people on the ideologies of human rights, freedom, and the end of corruption. If we stand with the people and encourage them to choose the leader that will restore Egyptian credibility and reconstruct the constitution allowing for more opportunity, a Middle Eastern crisis could certainly be avoided.