While the Middle East is a land of seemingly endless turmoil, it seems that a democratic sandstorm might be striking the region with a vengeance. This potential for democracy exists, sadly enough, largely despite and not because of the United States. In general, we have backed autocrats, kings and despots in the hope that out cash would buy us allies in our war on whatever. For the most part, these allies tend to enrich themselves and their fellows while ensuring that their countries are most certainly not democracies.
Looking back on our own revolution, it should have come as no surprise that people in the Middle East would grow weary of living under the rule of despots and would rise up against them. While Egypt is the main focus of the media, Iran is also a place of potential revolution. The leadership in Iran is doing its best to keep its people focused against the United States and Mubarek. The official line is that Iran supports the people of Egypt against Mubarek and they are urging the installation of an Islamic government comparable to that in Iran. Obviously enough, Iran is hoping that the situation in Egypt will end up in their favor-either gaining Egypt as an ally or, at the very least, seeing the United States and Israel lose Egypt as an ally.
I suspect that the Iranian leadership is also a bit worried. After all, revolution can be a contagious sort of thing and seeing the people of Egypt revolting against a despot might serve to inspire Iranians to rise up once more against their own despots.
This upheaval could prove to be a good for the people of the region as well as the United States. In terms of the people, the result could be the creation of democratic states. Or, at the least, states that are not as repressive and autocratic in character. This change could, over the course of several years, create more stability in the region and lower the threat of terror by addressing some of the motivating and enabling factors.
However, it is well worth considering the lesson of Iran. That revolution resulted in the creation of an oppressive regime that has been consistently hostile to the United States. While the Brotherhood in Egypt seems to be relatively moderate, there is the real possibility that radical elements might take the reins of the upheaval. There is also the reasonable concern that those who come to power will resent the fact that America has been a major force in keeping Mubarek in power and not regard the United States as a friend. The possibility of a protracted struggle that plunges Egypt into chaos is also well worth worrying about.
Ideally, the outcome will be resolved by peaceful elections and result in the dawn of a new era for the people of Egypt. However, the history of the Middle East suggests otherwise.