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January 25 revolution from within the US National Security Council

My previous work in a US think tank in Washington allowed me to approach the circle of Middle East officials and the Egyptian file at the National Security Council during the era of former President Barack Obama. I can confidently say that the White House was surprised by the Egyptian revolution when it broke out on January 25, 2011.

The Obama administration did not follow an agreed-upon planned approach when popular revolutions erupted in allied countries, there was no such thing, and Obama followed the principle of Wait & See before rushing to announce a clear position on the Egyptian people’s revolution, followed by American attempts to search for any reduction Damages as a result of the expected change, and the development of the situation in the corridors and rooms of the National Security Council, auxiliary to President Obama, slowly and in reaction to the developments in the situation inside the streets and squares of Egypt.

Beginning in light of the ambiguity about what is happening in Egypt in the first hours of the revolution, confidence in the Mubarak regime was confirmed, and that position extended to the early days of the Egyptian revolution. This was clearly stated by both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden, when they referred to the demand only for adopting real reforms at a later stage.

Washington worked to ensure that the entire Egyptian regime was not toppled, and accepted and even encouraged the “orderly transition” formula that would allow Vice President General Omar Suleiman to take over the reins in Egypt, and prevent a real change in Egyptian policies in the important files of Washington, such as relations with Israel. And security and intelligence cooperation, and the position on the Hamas and Hezbollah organization and relations with Iran.

Although the Egyptian revolution initially focused its efforts on internal issues, especially those related to democratic freedoms and rights, and neither Israel nor the Arab-Israeli conflict had a place in the calls of the demonstrators in various fields of Egypt, Israel was very present in the various discussions of the developments of the Egyptian revolution in Washington.

Washington began asking itself questions. Including: How can Washington deal with Islamic forces that the revolution might give them power? How can it deal with a new leadership that may be hostile to Israel? Will it continue to provide military and economic aid to Egypt even if a president threatens the peace agreement with Israel?

The presence of a large military delegation led by Major General Sami Anan, the former Egyptian Chief of Staff, in Washington with the occurrence of the harbingers of the revolution, and his stay for several days, represented an opportunity for the Obama administration to communicate directly with the Egyptian army, and to assure its leaders the need not to resort to violence against the demonstrators under any circumstances.

Under the pressure of the demonstrators, the army leadership had no choice but to inform President Mubarak of the necessity to step down immediately, which happened on February 11th.

During the 18 days of the revolution, the Egypt crisis management team inside the White House, which was discussing developments moment by moment, split into two teams, in addition to opposing positions there was a clear gap between them. The younger team was mainly composed of Dennis McDowell, born in 1969, a deputy national security advisor before becoming the White House chief of staff, and Ms. Samantha Power, born in 1970, a prominent Harvard academic who has books on genocide and served as Obama’s human rights advisor. , And a later ambassador to the United Nations, and prominent academic on issues of democratization, Michael McFollen, who was born in 1963, and later held the position of ambassador in Moscow, and finally the youngest of them all was Ben Rhodes, born in 1978, a graduate of Georgetown University, and worked as an advisor for international affairs in the National Security Council, He is the closest aide to President Obama’s heart and mind.

The older team was more conservative in its thinking due to their long years of service in the corridors of the US government and their influence with conservative bureaucratic traditions on politics. The most prominent faces of this team were Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, born in 1947, in addition to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, born in 1943, Vice President Joe Biden, born in 1942, National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, born in 1955, and Dennis Ross, responsible for the Middle East file at the Security Council The nationalist, he was born in 1948.

The youth team saw that what was happening was a real revolution and demanded the support of its young men. As for the elderly team, they demanded a delay and not abandon their ally Hosni Mubarak. However, both parties agreed on one thing, which is that the process of democratic transition is not an easy thing and will take many years, and it will be many years. Out of chaos.

Biden and Clinton were the loudest voices in their conservative team, warning that the only alternative to the Mubarak regime was Islamist rule. A long history of knowledge gathered between Mubarak on one side and Clinton and Biden on the other side, and the two appreciated the sincerity and accuracy of former President Hosni Mubarak in his repeated warning to the US administrations that the only alternative to his undemocratic regime would be the rule of Islamic forces led by the Muslim Brotherhood if free elections were allowed by American standards.

During her visit to Cairo after the election of former President Mohamed Morsi as president of Egypt, Clinton told the US National Radio that she believes that the United States will have “a different form of influence in Egypt, as we are now dealing with an evolving democracy.” Clinton stated that she believes that there are decisions in Egypt’s new foreign policy that will be different from what it was during the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Under the pressure of the demonstrators, the army leadership had no choice but to inform President Mubarak of the necessity to step down immediately, which happened on February 11th.

Washington had nothing but blessing what happened in Egypt, and dealing with a new reality, which is the ruling scenario for Washington in dealing with the Egyptian file in the last decade.

Washington’s realism and its pursuit of its interests makes it maintain strong relations with those who rule Egypt, as it dealt with Mubarak the dictator, with the military council, then with the Islamist President Morsi, and with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in ways that did not change in essence.

Today, the new Washington under Biden will deal in ways that only serve its interests, and in a way that is not very different from what happened and has been happening since the January 25 revolution until now.

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