Thursday, February 3, 2011

Revolution Paranoia

This Sunday, fans from around the world will gather to watch one of the most watched television events of the year. With only 2 of the NFL's 32 teams participating, most NFL fans will find themselves trying to decide who to cheer for. The event is so big, that it also attracts many fans who couldn't care less about the NFL during the rest of the year. Criteria for choosing a team to cheer for can include; team colours, if a team is a rival of a favourite team, support for a division or conference, underdog or favourite or any other reason.

In general pro-democracy demonstrations receive wide spread support for various reasons. In Iran, the people were protesting against a rigged election; Ivory Coast, the government refuses to accept electoral defeat and Tunisia chased out their dictators. In all these cases it is easy to support the under dog both as supporting democracy. As an Islamic Republic, Iran does not share any commonality with Western values and the plight of Ivory Coast and Tunisia are just not that important to the average person outside of unquestioning support of democracy.

With the focus on Egypt, choosing who to cheer for a particular outcome is very difficult. On the one hand democracy is the form of government that represents the will of the people. The other is Muslim Brotherhood, is best positioned to pick up the political vacuum. Egypt is an important player in the Middle East. They have a peace treaty with Israel and bare some responsibility for keeping weapons out of the hands of Gaza terrorists. A Muslim Brotherhood with political power could see them joining Syria and Lebanon as another Iranian satellite state. Continuing the cold peace is far better for both countries, than dragging Israel into another war.

For those who automatically support Democracy in at all costs should take note of the other "Democratic" countries in the region. In Lebanon, when Hezzbollah's threats were not enough to prevent being inditing by the UN Special Inquiry into the death of the previous Prime Minister, they toppled the government. The new Prime Minister's party holds 2 of 128 (yes two) seats in the Lebanese Parliament.

Under the PA, all election dates at every level of Government have been cancelled when Hamas could not reconcile with Fatah. Out of fear of the events in Egypt, the PA has called for municipal elections to be held. Hamas has already said they will not participate effectively cancelling elections in Gaza. Hamas and Islamic Brotherhood are essentially they same organization. The PA sided with the Tunisa Government before they fled and have come out in support of Mubarak. Solidarity protests with Egyptian demonstrators have been shut down while pro-Government protests have been permitted.

Israel is the only country in the region, where citizens vote for their government. There isn't even the slightest fear of violence being necessary in order to transfer power. In practical terms this is a huge difference that is ignored by those who want to blame Israel for every other problem in the region. The protestors are on the right track in demanding a Government that represents them is a noble goal. However at the end of the day, the components are not in place to avoid building a democracy like Lebanon or the PA. This is why unconditionally choosing sides may not be in the best interests of Egypt, their allies or Israel.