After massive demonstrations by workers and youth in Tunisia forced hated dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee January 14, Egyptians took to the streets in similar protests to demand President Hosni Mubarak resign.
Both Ben Ali and Mubarak are long-time allies of the U.S. government. They sought to use their relationships with Washington to enrich themselves in return for helping it police the region.
Egypt, ruled by Mubarak for 30 years, has been the recipient of $1.5 billion in direct U.S. government aid annually$1.3 billion used for military purposes to help keep the regime in power. Cairo receives the fourth largest amount doled out by Washington to governments around the world. Since 1975 the U.S. Agency for International Development has also given Egypt more than $28 billion in economic assistance. The country is the largest market for U.S. wheat sales, averaging $2 billion per year.
The U.S. government gave the Tunisian government close to $350 million in military aid between 1987 and 2009. While a 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy described Tunisia as a police state with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems," the State Department praised the active collaboration between Tunisian security forces and Washington.
The Egyptian armed forces supplied 35,000 troops in Washingtons 1990-91 war against Iraq, the third-largest contingent after the United States and the United Kingdom. Egypt was the first Arab country to recognize the state of Israel and collaborates with it on security along the Israeli-Egyptian border against the Palestinian people.
The CIA works closely with the Egyptian government on renditiona covert program expanded during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in which the CIA sent captured terror suspects to third countries to be interrogated under torture. Egypt has been a willing partner. Mubarak's newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, was the CIA's point man for the program in Egypt. He underwent training in the 1980s at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
On January 25 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration was confident the Mubarak regime was "stable" and "responding to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people."
Two days later Vice President Joseph Biden said on PBS NewsHour that Mubaraks been an ally of ours in a number of things and hes been very responsible relative to geopolitical interests in the region . I would not refer to him as a dictator.
Days later, after no letup in the demonstrations in Egypt, the Barack Obama administration urged a transition to free elections.
In March 2009, in her first visit to Egypt as secretary of state, Clinton rebuffed suggestions that Mubarak should not visit the White House because of his record on human rights. "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family, she said. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States."
Mass protests shake dictatorship in Egypt
Economic, social crisis fuels upheaval
Tunisian govt fails to quell protests
Solidarity with workers of Egypt
Actions across the globe back struggle in Egypt
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home