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Why Not Them?

2:31 PM, Jun 26, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The Washington Post reports on the view among Arab democracy activists of events in Iran:

The frustration comes against a backdrop of deep-rooted skepticism among pro-democracy activists that U.S. policies under President Obama will help transform the region, despite his vow to engage the Muslim world in a highly publicized speech here last month. Some view Obama's response to Iran's protests, muted until Tuesday, as a harbinger of U.S. attitudes toward their own efforts to reform their political systems. The Egyptian government, they note, is a key American ally, and U.S. pressure on Egypt for reforms began subsiding in the last years of the Bush administration.

"When Obama does not take a stance, the very next day these oppressive regimes will regard this as a signal. This is a test for his government," said Ayman Nour, a noted Egyptian opposition politician who was recently released from jail. "If they can turn a blind eye to their enemy, they can turn a blind eye to any action here in Egypt."

Maybe some obscure event that happened fifty years ago can explain why Egyptians would want U.S. support and Iranians wouldn't. Perhaps it was America's support for Egypt in the Suez crisis versus its meddling in Iran to bring down Mossadeq that explains why democracy activists in Egypt view the American role differently. Or maybe an American should always try to be on the side of those who seek democracy and freedom, and stand against those who impose tyranny on their own people.