Mubarak's parting shot: The democracy U.S. 'spearheaded in Iran' is 'fate of Middle East'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

WASHINGTON In one of Mubarak's last telephone conversations as president of Egypt, he blasted the Obama administration.

Mubarak was quoted as saying that U.S. democratic efforts in the Middle East have resulted in such radical regimes as Iran and Hamas.

"He had very tough things to say about the United States," former Israeli minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who spoke to Mubarak on Feb. 10, said.

"He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: 'We see the democracy the United States spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that's the fate of the Middle East.'"

The United States, determined to maintain influence and a strategic partnership, has offered additional aid to a post-Mubarak Egypt.

Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama would draft proposals to help Egypt after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. They said the assistance would focus on economy and institution-building.

"The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt," Obama said on Feb. 11. "We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary and asked for to pursue a credible transition to a democracy." Egypt has received about $1.5 billion in annual aid from the United States. All but $200 million has been U.S. military aid, which helps support the largest military in the Arab world.

Officials said both the Defense Department and State Department have urged increased aid to Egypt to help encourage the continuation of its alliance with the United States. They said the biggest short-term threat was that Egypt would impose restrictions on the U.S. Navy's use of the Suez Canal.

"The [Egyptian] military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people," Obama said. "That means protecting the rights of Egypt's citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free."

But U.S. analysts expressed concern of an Arab backlash in wake of the Obama campaign for Mubarak to resign. They said pro-U.S. Arab leaders would be cautious and even resentful in maintaining a high-profile alliance with Washington.

"Hosni Mubarak's efforts to leave with honor failed," Judith Apter Klinghoffer, a professor who has taught in China, Denmark, Israel and the United States, said. "Arab leaders will never forget nor I suspect forgive."

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