What exactly is going on in Egypt? That's a great question and the answer really depends on your perspective. It seems everyone has an agenda -- inside and outside of Egypt -- but there are some things we need to understand before we can determine whether or not what's going on is good or bad.
There's no question that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not a particularly nice guy. Why has the United States supported him? The answer to that is complicated but one of the reasons is because he has been an ally in fighting some particularly nasty guys; namely the terrorists. He's also the leader of Egypt, a country in which we have invested quite of bit of diplomatic equity.
Mubarak came to power after the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Sadat became our friend shortly after to coming to power in 1970 by switching his country's allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States. Sadat was killed because he signed the Camp David Accords, the peace treaty with Israel that was negotiated by President Jimmy Carter. If we didn't feel an obligation to Egypt before we sure did after Sadat's assassination.
Far be it from us to choose Sadat's successor. Mubarak emerged as the new leader and we forged a relationship with him, in part to keep the peace treaty from disintegrating.
But we also have a mutual benefit with Egypt in opposing the terrorists. Our interests are obvious but Mubarak, who is Muslim, lives in imminent danger of being overthrown by those who would replace him with a Muslim theocracy.
Egypt may be regarded as fairly moderate, policy-wise, as majority Muslim countries go but make no mistake, its people are fundamentalist Muslims. Polls have shown that the majority of Egyptians support either Hamas or al Qaeda. Most believe in Sharia law. In fact, more than 80 percent believe if you leave the Muslim religion you should be executed.
Now, I know the protestors in Egypt are garnering a lot of sympathy and I'm certainly not defending Mubarak but do we really believe these people are after freedom? Do we really believe they want a Republic in place of what they have now?
There are several forces at play in the protests. At the forefront is Mohamed ElBaradei. You may remember him as the former leader of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his insistence that Saddam Hussein wasn't trying to produce nuclear weapons; an odd reason for a peace prize, indeed.
Then there's the Muslim Brotherhood. They claim to be peaceful but it was four of their brothers who carried out the assassination of Sadat. They exist for a sole purpose: the establishment of a worldwide caliphate founded on Sharia law. The Muslim Brotherhood knows its involvement is polemic to the point of possibly destroying the current regime change in Egypt. That's why they are content to wait in the shadows as events there play out.
But make no mistake about it; ElBaradei is no match for the Brotherhood. He's, for all intents and purposes, a European socialist; a pacifist. He's fond of phrases like "speech truth to power" and other leftist peacenik mumbo jumbo. The guy got a peace prize from the same people who gave one to Al Gore and Barack Obama. The Brotherhood will absolutely eat his lunch.
So as the world cheers on the protestors the real power base plots its ascent to rule Egypt with the iron fist of an ayatollah.
Unfortunately, the only thing standing between them and the world is Hosni Mubarak.
Phil Valentine is an author and syndicated radio talk show host. His website is PhilValentine.com