February 2nd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Risks if Mubarak is removed from power?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Somebody suggested, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/02/01/art.mubarak.gi.jpg caption=""]
When it comes to Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is the devil we know.

Ruling for the last three decades, Mubarak has maintained Egypt as a moderate regional force in the face of extreme Islamist nations.

He's also helped keep peace with Israel.

Now Mubarak says he's not running for re-election and it's unclear how much longer he will cling to power.

Which brings us to who's the devil we don't know?

History suggests we might want to watch what we wish for:

Remember when the Bush administration pushed for democratic elections in Gaza and Hamas won?

Or go back a little further: When the Shah of Iran was toppled 30 years ago, the ayatollahs took over and Iran became an Islamic republic.

The Iranian Revolution was originally backed by many groups - much like the one in Egypt - but the extremists took control of the movement - and look where we are today.

Some worry the same thing could happen in Egypt. They fear the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Even though the extremely conservative Islamic organization is banned from Egypt, it's still the largest opposition group.

But not everyone agrees. Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei rejects the idea that Islamic fundamentalists will take over.

The secular ElBaradei says he's reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood and that they need to be included in any new government.

Here’s my question to you: What are the risks if Mubarak is removed from power in Egypt?

Filed under: Egypt • Middle East
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Andrew Fukuoka, Japan

    During my last trip to Egypt I met a person that told me that the average person was getting poorer with only a few wealthy and well connected at the top getting everything. This problem seems to be showing up everywhere. Maybe this just a preliminary of things to come.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  2. The Mudshark in Oregon

    If Mubarak is removed from power, we run the risk of an actual democracy developing. You know, one where the will of the people is actually the mandate of the government? Such a country would be a direct threat to the criminals who run the USA. If Egypt devlops into a true democracy, it may force a re-evaluation of our situation, where banks and oil companies dictate foreign policy. It will also force a true evaluation of the influence exerted by Israel. We will soon see that the Israeli "king" has no clothing!

    February 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  3. Cal (Maui)

    There must be an orderly transfer of power, that can only be achieved with an election voted on by the people, if Mubarak is over thrown there will be a void that might be filled by much more radical elements that would destabilized the entire region. September is a long ways off for those promised elections and I am sure too long for those who have lived all of thier lives under this regime, evolution is the answer, be careful of what you wish for...

    February 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  4. chris brown fl.

    maybe it will send a message to our goverment the people are watching and their fed up

    February 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  5. robin

    we are also guilty of looking too far in the future, and getting it wrong.we need to stay on our side of the pond when it comes to the middle east.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  6. William from Chattanooga

    As with Iran's uprising, the US must wait for the people of Egypt to effect their own form of democracy or not; we aren't and never have been the world police...

    February 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  7. mark in Las Vegas

    The risks are huge! The crowds and the country as a whole is poor and will blame Israel and the United States for all their problems. Doesn't matter that their problem are within, they will blame the United States because it is a popular target. The United States has always had a strained relationship with Egypt but when Mubarak leaves the strain will even be more. The US would be wise to start moving its Navy ships thru the Suez Canal before they are told they can not use it and will then have only the long route around the horn of Africa. Our supply lines would be cut for not only our Navy but the oil that we and the rest of the world need.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  8. Muhamad

    Freedom? Self-determination? Justice? Lasting stability? Change is not easy and denying liberty to people for 30 years is long enough. Those are risks worth having. Mubarak must go.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  9. Lee

    Its not our place to decide really. Everyone wants to run over and tell Egypt what to do. If the situation were reversed we Americans would not take too kindly of Egyptians trying to delegate who should or shouldn't run our government. The Egyptian people are speaking up and are fighting to reestablish a government that has their best interests in mind. So really the question is...Why should America be so concerned with catering its foreign policy with Arab nations around the needs and wants of Israel?

    February 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  10. Omid

    I am sick and tired of people in this side of the world giving themselves permission to decide weather keeping a dictator in another country is good for them or not. It is up to the suffering people to choose who will be their next leader. This same attitude of so called "our interest" handed another Middle eastern country thirty years ago to demons that are now ruling it and causing trouble for others.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  11. Rick, Medina, OH


    Hegemony comes at a great price. We've seen it before, we're seeing it now, and we'll see it again.

    Medina, OH

    February 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  12. Steve

    Maybe the risks wouldn't be so worrisome had the U.S. and other Governments supported freedom and Democracy all along. Instead. we support or comdemn autocrats and dictators depending on whether they're friendly or not. Such hypocracy tends to come back and bite you.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  13. Strom

    As I see it, a number of interesting situations could unfold. I do not see the rise of an Islamic Nationalist government, as is being suggested by many, but a Nasser-Esque Arab Nationalist government. Such a government could be friendly with the Central Government of Sudan, and support it on such issues as the ratification of the South Sudanese Independence Referendum. In addition, I could see such a government pressing harder on the Nile River water treaties Britain constructed with Egypt in the 1950's to afford Egypt the overwhelming majority of the Nile River's water. This could create more strains with Nile River water source countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. We'll just have to wait and see.

    Strom In Charleston, South Carolina

    February 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  14. Jim

    Look, we need to see this as an opportunity.

    I am simply sick and tired that US supports dictatorships where it sees fit and anihilates countries where it deems it unfit, case of Iraq for example.

    Our leaders in US need to support democracy, within OUR borders FIRSTand outside our borders after. We have supported these puppet autocrats in Mid-East and Southeastern Asia for far too long.

    If people choose fundamentalist governments, that's the people's choice and it is upto them to live with that decision. Here we chose George Bush Jr. twice, and I must say that was a fundamentalist government in many ways as well but nevertheless us Americans chose him and now are living with the aftermath.

    In Iran, people have the right to choose whether they want a fundamentalist or a centrist. Sadly right now Egyptians and Saudis and most of Middle East does not have that option and that in itself is a pity!

    February 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  15. sebek

    Actually, US can do little. And US should also stop acting as if it can do anything at all here, except to do more harm. It does not matter what we want, really. We may prop Mubarak a few more months, but then, the resulting explosion, when he is finally forced out, will be greater. A greater unstability then will certainly harm US interest more. So, question is, does US support the revolution now, and hope for a moderate government, or US opposes it nowto prop up Mubarak, and we end up with a fundamentalist takeover later. Baradei and his likes are certainly not fundamentalists, and if he says he wants to talk to Muslim brotherhood, then I am more likely to believe him, than any US CIA analyst, or a radio/TV commentator.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  16. Robert (Houston)

    The question should be WHEN – not if. We know what the risks are. Only thing we can hope for is that the people who want democracy are willing to fight for it – on their own without assistance (troops) from the United States

    February 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  17. Mohamad H

    The same thing will happen as it did in Iran. You have to know the culture of the Middle East. Things do not end up as they are planned or as people promiss you. Talk is very cheap.

    I n Iran the technocrats were deveived by Khomeini when he was in Paris. He promissed the world to people and see what happened. Back stabing is the norm and part of the culture. The European have known this for years and Americans have to learn soon!
    Moslem Botherhood has been wanting to rule in Egypt in years. They will use El Baradei for few months and you will end up like Iran today or worse.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  18. stormsun

    It may entail risks to US interests in the short run to see Mubarak step down. But the risks to the US in the long run will be much greater is we are seen as two-faced hypocrits, vocally expressing or belief in freedom but actually supporting strong-men rulers, monarchs and dictators solely for our own expediency. We either believe in and support democracy and freedom...or we don't. It really is that simple.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  19. Aaron Seattle

    The risks are great, but those risks are being undertaken by the Egyptian people. I think the more America or the West is seen as meddling in internal affairs the worst we will be in a "democratic" Egypt's point of view. We need to distance ourselves from Mubarak, or at least appear that way, and throw our support behind moderate leaders in the up-coming interim government. That way we could at least minimize the risk of an extremist take over.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  20. Elijah Aradion Magutu

    There are no risks, Egyptians have a right to install a government of their choice,that is democracy,.The new leadership could turn out to be anything but a close ally of the US.Jack, it seems whenever we have desired democracy else where, the people elect leaders and governments that are not friendly to the US.The people's regime change cannot be a risky affair to a genuine democratic individual or government.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  21. JIM California

    The big risk is Egypt will wind up being another Iran.Especially when the Egyptian people want to overthrow all government officials. This will make it easy for the likes of Hamas or Al Qaeda to take over and in stall Shiria Law.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  22. Charlie Earle

    The risks are many but its not an IF its WHEN and even so we cant worry about it, just need to deal with it when it happens. If this then that does nothing but waste time.....most of the time we don't think of the IF that happens and it is usually followed with an ooohhhh.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  23. jude

    The risks are obvious. Extremism, anti US sentiment, diplomatic tensions.Although it would be great to see a truely secular government succeed in that region of the world. Now if we could have one here......

    February 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  24. triker44

    From Lawton, OK. Jack it is obviously not a choice! Mubarak WILL be removed from power. The people there are demanding it! What the U.S. must do is wait and hope for the best. Attempts influence the outcome from us will only worsen our future problems in Egypt.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  25. tim

    I lived in Egypt many years and have great confidence in their ability to choose a democratic government. They know full well what the ramifications would be in transferring power to the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Other Islamic nations must observe their religion by law but the Egyptians are religious by choice.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  26. Juan

    Risks to who?
    The USA has no choice in this matter.
    Therefore the "risks" as you put it, would be akin to the "risks" in life itself.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  27. Matt T

    There is no poing in talking about what happened in Iran if you dont start with the CIA and MI-5 overthrowing Mossadeq to install the Shah.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  28. Girish Patel

    Risk?? Entire middle east getting a taste of democracy and one day Islamic fundamentalist controlling 50%+ oil of the world!! And imagine what can be done with all that petro dollars??? Scary!!!

    February 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  29. Anna, Chicago

    If the person replacing him is an evil, asdist, serial killer like Hitler, we are looking at WWIII.

    If we want a democratic election, we have to be prepared for the Muslim Brotherhood to be elected. Otherwise, we are looking at a rigged election, if we demand that the Muslim Brotherhood not be one of the portential leaders.

    We have a republican party that is trying to return our country to the good old days and a democratic party that is trying to move our country forward. The republicans calls the democrats hitler and the democracts once called Bush Hitler. Egypt gone have to pick the lesser of two evils like we had too..

    February 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  30. Bruce

    The risk is entirely to Israel's influence, but not their security.The Muslims, if left to run their own country with their own definition of freedom will acquire a vested interest in tourism, allowing oil to flow, and banking, and being a part of the international community. They need a strong religious leadership, not our unique separation of church/state required to keep the Catholics and Protestants from killing each other. We need to let them be.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  31. Mark

    It's not for "us" to decide, its for the people of Egypt to decide. If collectively they feel the time has come for Mubarak to go, then the rest of the world needs to allow that to happen. The US/Uk is not removing him, the people of Egypt have stated enough is a enough. I believe the US is at much greater risk when we start hand picking regimes that go against popular opinion..........

    February 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  32. the_dude

    Egypt will become a hotbed for terrorists exactly like it is now except they will be more open.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  33. amrou

    Whatever the consequences, the democratic principles that this nation was founded upon and stands for should always come before our own interests. This is not about opportunism, it's about supporting the very same natural rights we fought for in this country nearly 200 years ago.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  34. roxpop in San Jose, CA

    Maybe my previous comment was not very well written. I just want to say that I beleive that for the US the best would be to try to understand the situation and to try to make the change as soon as possible – It would help to generate an pro american image and I beleive (but I am not an expert) that would be good for the american's image/relations in the world.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  35. sim


    a danger to Israel, the U.S. and world peace!

    February 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  36. Jim Campbell, Simi Valley..

    The Egyptian nation will be taken over by Islamic radicals who will be far more controlling and democracy, as they knew it, will be a lost memory. Isreal and the United States will not be in control of their influence and will not have information on radical elements in the region. Oil will not flow thru the canal toward the United States without penalties...

    February 1, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  37. Dodie

    Our role as provocateur sustaining an oppressive economic system in Egypt should end here and now. Just once, it would be nice for the US to support the people who are fighting for their personal rights!

    February 2, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  38. Kim Smith

    The risk is that they will experience what it is like to have a country run by religous zealots. My feeling is that they don't have the discipline to form a true democratic society.

    February 2, 2011 at 5:29 pm |