So, the US is left to back the protesters and hope the Muslim Brotherhood (with help from their extensive networks) don't worm their way in and take over (the reason Obama didn't reach out to protesters in Iran was because he knew they wouldn't win).
That seems to be the consensus on the left side of the aisle right now, a sort of Francis Fox Piven solution, which is odd considering that when Bush pushed democracy in the middle east many of the same folks poo-poo'd it as fantasy that would never work. Besides, Saddam was needed as a barrier to the Iranian madmen. Funny how Mubarak isn't needed as a buffer against other Arab countries attacking Israel. But times change, evidently.
So what's the Iranian connection in this? They seem pretty happy about things but then again, it might be a moment of opportunism and payback. Recall from history that Anwar Sadat was a vocal critic of the Khomeini movement, calling them loons and such:
Sadat had been feuding with the mullahs since he had negotiated peace with Israel at Camp David in 1978. At the time, Khomeini had called Sadat a traitor to the Palestinians and to Muslims everywhere, while Sadat, a Sunni Muslim, branded the Shia Khomeini "a lunatic madman ... who has turned Islam into a mockery."So there's a history there. Whether it's coming into play in the events of today in more than just a 'neener-neener' fashion is the question. We know the Iranians have made some peaceful overtures in the last decade, but then again..
Death did nothing to lessen the feud: When Pahlavi died of cancer in July 1980, Sadat granted him a state funeral and buried him at Al Rifai, in a room by the tombs of two former Egyptian kings. And, when a young Egyptian soldier named Khalid Islambouli emptied his machine gun into Sadat a year later, Tehran promptly issued a postage stamp in Islambouli's honor, named a street in Tehran after him, and painted a nearby building with a four-story mural of the glorious martyr (he was captured and executed).
Perhaps sensing that Egypt's enmity is an obstacle to its ambitions, Iran has made some efforts to woo Egypt into its sphere of influence. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he wants to open an Iranian embassy in Cairo, and, a few years ago, the Tehran city council changed the name of Islambouli street. But a sign bearing the shooter's name still stands at an entrance to the street, and the giant mural still towers overhead. And, last summer, Cairo was whipped into a new frenzy when Iranian television broadcast Assassination of a Pharaoh, a documentary that celebrates Sadat's murder, featuring, among other things, a slow-motion count of the bullets that Islambouli fired into the doomed president's body. In response, Egyptian police raided an Iranian TV station in Cairo, and Egypt cancelled a soccer match between the countries. It doesn't seem like Obama needs to worry that his crucial Arab ally is about to align with Tehran. The Shah certainly isn't going anywhere soon.Incidentally, the above comments are from the New Republic's senior editor Michael Crowley, who goes on to tout Obama's cunning play to eradicate the Iranian dictators by leveraging them with the Egyptian dictator:
And it appears that official Obama administration policy will be to exploit that tension to the fullest. That explains why the president is cozying up to Egypt's authoritarian dictator, Hosni Mubarak--saying nothing at Cairo University about Mubarak's penchant for political repression and torture. Obama clearly appreciates that this Egyptian-Iranian blood feud well serves his struggle to reach peace in the Middle East and stop Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed regional superpower. Democracy and human rights can wait.Hmmm. Wouldn't that make recent events an epic fail for Obama's middle eastern policy, along with a surviving Iranian nuke program, Hizballah-controlled Lebanon and the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan? Axelod is trying to say that Obama was all over Mubarak about this potential over the past few years. Wonder how the NR will cover it now.
Politico's Josh Gerstein calls Axelrod out on his prevarication. History is indeed being spun left and right on this, but it's important to remember who was front and center on the freedom bandwagon before it was cool. Rice's speech--in Cairo--was much more provocative than Obama's and left no doubt about where reforms were needed. The Bushies later backed down after freedom began to fail in various locations, taking the more pragmatic view, but if TNR version is correct it suggests Obama was winking at Hosni all along. Until now of course.