Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Terrorists Trying To Destabilize Egyptian Regime Of Hosni Mubarak

Why, it is reasonable to ask, would any European or American tourist want to visit Egypt? Repeatedly in recent years, terrorists have struck directly against that country's tourist trade, just as they did yesterday at the Sinai resort of Dahab, killing at least 24 persons, including four foreign tourists.

But there is an even larger issue here. Egypt relies on tourists for a large part of its modern economy, and the attacks seem mainly aimed at destroying the stability of the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt is the most populous Arab country and history shows the importance of Western influence in the country ranging back to the 18th Century. When Egypt has fallen prey to dictators unfriendly to the West, as in the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser, it has complicated the already catastropic problems of the Middle East. After all, Nasser bore responsibility for aggressive steps that led to the Six Day War in 1967.

Egypt's importance, indeed, is a major reason why the U.S. and Europe cannot afford to let the country slip, as is now threatened, into unfriendly hands.

So, we have to engage in Egypt, propping up what in some respects is a fairly corrupt regime now, to strengthen it in the face of the threat from Osama bin Laden and other Arab radicals.

We let Iran slip into Khomeini's hands 25 years ago, and Iran subsequently became a major threat. We cannot afford the same dead end policy in Egypt.

The West has no choice in this matter but to exert some imperial influence to keep things from degenerating there, and they are headed that way now.

The U.S. gives important foreign aid to Egypt. That probably should be increased but, more important, the Egyptian regime needs to be fortified by Western expertise, especially in security matters.

People are going to say, let's not become even more deeply involved in the Middle East. But we don't have much choice. Either we intervene now, or prospects will worsen and the terrorists could score an easy triumph.

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