As Egypt enters the third week of demonstrations against President Mubarak, much of the world looks on in trepidation.
The dictators and monarchs of the Arab world, from Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya and Bashar al-Assad of Syria to King Abdullah II of Jordan and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, must indeed be wondering what the future holds for them.
Meanwhile, the United States, leader of the free world, is caught in a cleft stick. On the one hand, it has come out in support of the protesters, but, on the other hand, it has also come to recognize that the call for democratic elections in Egypt will not necessarily result in the formation of a government that will espouse its values and maintain the peace treaty with Israel.
Many hope that things will now begin to settle down with the appointment of a largely military government under Omar Suleiman and the suspension of emergency regulations. However, the real test will come if and when elections are held.
Lebanon and the Gaza Strip are living proof of the fact that the right to vote does not necessarily guarantee democracy, or result in the formation of a government that respects its values.
In this respect, it should be noted that, while the free world looks on anxiously at what is happening in Egypt, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, in a speech marking the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution is his own country, has come out in support of the demonstrators and called for an Egypt free of U.S. and Israeli interference.
His backing of the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square stands in marked contrast to the manner in which anti-government demonstrations were crushed in his own country in the summer of 2009 and should serve as a stark warning to the free world.
Iran has already taken a hold of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip through the agency of the Hezbollah and Hamas. Few will doubt that it now has its eyes on Egypt.