We care so much about Egypt because the Mubarak regime has been a key link in the infrastructure of our Middle Eastern sphere of influence: the linchpin of the arrangements that keep the Israeli Sparta secure, and a major player in the Sunni-US alliance against the rise of Shi’ite power in Iran. As the WikiLeaks cables show, Mubarak has been one of the loudest advocates, among our Arab vassals, of a US strike against the mullahs. The loss of Egypt will mean an indefinite delay in the campaign to effect “regime change” in Tehran. This is a major setback for the War Party, and the cause of the Americans’ stubborn resistance to the protesters key demands.
The protesters and the regime seem to have reached an impasse, where neither side is willing to give and the latter are waiting for the former to lose steam and give up the fight. Whatever happens in the short term, this merely postpones the ultimate decision as to which road Egypt will take. Even if the pro-democracy movement is temporarily stalled, it wouldn’t take much to stir things up again: the whole region is a tinderbox just waiting to go off, due as much to economic as well as political conditions prevalent across the Middle East and much of Central Asia. Southern Europe, by the way, isn’t much better off economically: this is just the beginning of the insurrections that are bound to germinate as the international economy continues to shrink and the consequences of worldwide inflation takes hold.
What will come out of that global turmoil is anybody’s guess, but one factor the Obama administration ignores at its peril: the soft underbelly of the empire they seek to defend is the very thing that made and makes the rule of their Egyptian counterparts so uncertain – the worldwide economic contraction that is squeezing people’s hopes to the breaking point.