Egypt Burns: A New Future for the Middle East Possible?

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Ben Cohen
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The chaos in Egypt continues entering into its fourth day of mass protests against the Hosni Mubarak regime. Inspired by the Tunisian revolt only weeks ago, it looks like Egyptians are warming up to the idea that they do not have to live under a repressive government that cares little for their rights or well being.

If the Mubarak government falls, there will be a dramatically new political dynamic in the region. Under Mubarak, Egypt has been a client state to the US, doing its bidding and furthering its interest in the region. It is highly unlikely the next government will be able to adopt the same relationship given the average man on the street's contempt for American foreign policy.

The dust has yet to settle in Tunisia, and it is unclear what a new government would look like. But there are lessons to be learned from the stunning revolt- that no government in the Middle East is safe from its people and should they choose to abuse their power, there will be dramatic and alarmingly swift consequences.

And unlike external invasions, internal revolutions tend to install governments that people actually want. This will upset the US greatly as it is used to engineering the rest of the planet, particularly the Middle East, according to its needs.

The Israelis will also be monitoring the situation closely given Mubarak's historical allegiance to the Jewish state. A new government is unlikely to be so friendly to its neighbor and would create heightened tensions in the already volatile region.

In short, the fall of the Egyptian government could very well benefit its people, but throw the region into a state of panic. It is most likely that US and Israeli interests will be severely compromised, and there's no telling what contingency plans the two military juggernauts have in place to ensure their stakes in the region are protected.

There is also the possibility that a new, less US/Israeli friendly government in Egypt can help spur more serious negotiations in the Israel/Palestine peace talks. Other than Iran, Israel faces no real challenge to its military supremacy in the region, but a hostile Egypt would shift the balance enough to make the Israelis pause for thought.

Either way, both the US and Israel are learning that the Arab countries are tired of living under repressive regimes that do not represent their interests. Part of that hostility comes from dictators like Mubarak's acquiescence to US and Israeli power - a paradigm that looks set to shift in the very near future.