Right To The Point

United States takes right approach among media mayhem

Feb. 10, 2011

By Kayla Purvis

The media has gone crazy over an initially non-violent, million citizen-strong movement in Egypt that is now a full-blown revolution.

The Middle Eastern and African countries that have recently reported government issues that I know of are: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Serbia. The major event of these seven being Egypt’s anti-Mubarak protests.

Egyptians began protesting lack of human rights, unemployment and rising food prices under Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic regime. Tunisia, whose protests also became a revolution, eventually resulted in their president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali dissolving the government, declaring a state of emergency and escaping to Saudi Arabia.

There is no doubt that Egyptians are hoping for the same.

For the most part, Americans have been watching the events unfold on television, maybe unsure or unaware of their relevance to our situation in the Middle East. President Barack Obama has had to be careful about his word choice when communicating with Mubarak. Even though Mubarak is a dictator, the United States and Egypt have been major allies. And, since we are America, we would love to see a democracy rise out of these protests and anti-Mubarak displays. However, being that we are such strong allies, we can’t exactly come out and jump in with the Egyptian people. That would not be good for our relations with Egypt, or our access to the Suez Canal.

Israel is another concern during this situation because it’s also a major U.S. ally. America gives Israel sound military support in the form of weapons. The extent of this support is relatively unknown, but nonetheless exists. In return, Israel, who depends on our economy, provides an “in” for the U.S. among a glob of unstable, feuding countries. If we lose Israel, the Middle East might tear itself apart.

So, if we tick off Egypt, and they go after Israel, we will have put ourselves in quite a predicament. A few days ago, Obama and Mubarak had a 30-minute phone call — a huge amount of time to have the President of the United States on the phone. As far as I know, all Obama has said to Mubarak was to not run again (I don’t think he would have anyway). Hillary Clinton urged Egypt to settle things peacefully. Aside from that, there have not been many U.S. figureheads getting their feet wet in the situation.

Mubarak will not be taking office again if he has any common sense in this situation, but he hasn’t appointed his son to be the next president, either. The majority of the hubbub is taking place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Many Egyptians are watching the commotion on television, too.

I saw a report on Al Jazeera (the English-speaking Egyptian news source) in a class of mine about a prison that got looted and burned. Thousands of inmates fled from the prison, but a few stayed because they were afraid to get caught and re-sentenced. In a situation like this, where the government has been cornered and there are masses of people in the streets, these events shouldn’t surprise anyone.

I think America has done what it should so far by staying close to the situation without being in it or trying to control it. Egypt has not given us a reason to believe they will get violent. I am pleased so far with our lack of butting-in.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School.