Mubarak and the Egyptian army: the Pinochet option?

In last night’s post, I said that prior to his speech, Muabarak had the option to be like Frederik De Klerk but instead had come out swinging with his dead-end rear-guard action like Ceausescu.
Today, the veteran Middle East expert Bill Quandt* has a good piece on Politico in which–identifying the key role the Egyptian military needs to play right now in “persuading” the ageing dictator to step down now, not in September, for God’s sake!– he argues that they need to make an offer to Mubarak like the one the Chilean military made to Augusto Pinochet in the late 1980s: basically, that he should leave the presidency but would be immune from prosecution for past misdeeds.
At that time, that was an excellent compromise that prevented considerable further bloodshed and allowed/helped the Chilean people to proceed toward much fuller democracy. Today, the anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo and the rest of Egypt desperately need a deal that can similarly halt the bloodshed that Mubarak’s dreadful thugs (the baltagiyeh) are raining down on them.
As Quandt notes, the Egyptian military– which has a very long and close relationship with the U.S. military– has a key role to play if this deal is to happen. Sill not clear whether they will play it or not.
If they don’t, everyone around the world knows of their ties to the U.S. military and will be asking why these ties were not actively used to try to save lives on Tahrir Square.

* Full disclosure: Bill Quandt has made many previous appearances on this blog under the guise of “Bill the spouse”. We have been happily married for nearly 27 years. When I started the blog I wanted to keep it as my space for self-expression and not get identified simply as someone else’s spouse. We are still separate people, and discuss all these issues frequently and fruitfully, though not always with 100% agreement. But hey, I’m also proud of his work and think it’s good to start featuring it here, too.

5 thoughts on “Mubarak and the Egyptian army: the Pinochet option?

  1. Salah

    Although US saying many things about the dictators in ME but its clearly double standard when it comes to those friendly regimes in ME and the way that US obviously don’t like the changes represent people wishes for their best with more open and freedom make US losing the control in those areas.
    As we seen in Iraq as an example of a shadowy political system when US prized the democratic and freedom election in 2005 while the country immersed in a bloody chose status, those millions of people living in the most miserable life although they own and living on land that hold third if not second world’s OIL reserves.
    Back to the issue here is this conflicts and drama of people was predicted before?
    Is there a common sense that people move to get their freedom?
    Is this interruptions here and there have some factors that may be initiated these conflicts in such time?
    All these question have valid points,but these hard questions to ask.
    But back to when said and looking to conflicts and analysing thins slowly from demolishing a state of Iraq in 2003 by occupation of UN member state taking the control of the region looks what written in by Huntington, Samuel book. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. that have something to rethinks about what today changes. Followed by another written thoughts of Blood borders, How a better Middle East would look by Ralph Peters in 2006 and after the occupation of Iraq
    The Clash of Civilizations

    In the concluding sections of his book, Huntington discusses the challengers of the West, and whether or not external and internal challenges will erode the West’s power. External challenges include the emerging cultural identities in the non-Western world. Internal challenges include the erosion of principle values, morals, and beliefs within Western culture. He also contributes to the debate between multiculturalists and monoculturalists and states that, “A multicultural world is unavoidable because global empire is impossible. The preservation of the United States and the West requires the renewal of Western identity” (318). The ability for the West to remain a global political power, it needs to adapt to increasing power and influence of different civilizations. Without adapting, the West is destined to decline in power and influence, or it will clash with other powerful civilizations. According to Huntington, the West clashing with another civilization is “the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order” (321).

  2. Scott

    Many thanks for posting the timely link Helena. I was a fan of your dispatches and columns long before I first read BQ. No doubt he’s just as proud of “Helena the spouse” too.

  3. scott

    For those in the Ch’ville/UVA neighborhood, we’re having a forum on the Tunisia,Egypt developments tomorrow (Thursday) evening at 5:00 p.m., in Nau Auditorium, with an excellent panel including Bill Quandt.
    https://eventcal.itc.virginia.edu/eventcal/event/display?event_id=1296507267001
    Come early. I anticipate severe over-flow, unless they move the location. (there’s already more facebook sign-ups for the forum than there are seats.)
    Maybe UVA can net-broadcast it somehow….?

  4. annie

    i wondered who Bill the spouse was, thanks for your introduction. i liked his article @ politico, very sensible indeed and look forward to hearing more from him.

Comments are closed.