Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (pictured)
on Monday warned that the United States should be careful what it wishes for in Egypt, because there are more pro-Islamic, anti-Israel, and even anti-U.S. political elements than those that are democratic. Kissinger also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, depending how “the Mubarak transition takes place,” he is concerned for the region and worried about Jordan.
“If I look at the political forces that one can identify in Egypt, there are more pro-Islamic, anti-Israel, I would say maybe even anti-U.S. forces than pure democrats the way we understand it,” Kissinger said. “We shouldn't say absolutely it's going to go one way or the other. But what one should understand is that, whatever one can say about [President Hosni] Mubarak, what existed in Egypt from [assassinated President Anwar] Sadat on was a stabilizing influence in the region.”
Van Susteren asked Kissinger whether the United States should have predicted that the Egyptian people would rise up against Mubarak, and whether some U.S. action should have been taken earlier, to avoid de-stabilizing the region. He said that while one could have seen anti-Mubarak sentiment coming, U.S. priorities ultimately needed to be considered.
“What presidents have to face is what priorities they can give to specific actions,” Kissinger said. “And after all, here we have had five presidents believing that Mubarak was their best way to achieve American objectives in the region.
“Engaging and redoing Egypt is a very huge undertaking. But the last few years one probably could have seen that Mubarak was slipping,” he continued. “But that isn't the issue today. I think the issue is strategic change could come in the region if Egypt evolves in any number of ways that one can foresee.”
Van Susteren asked what impact the transition from Mubarak would have on the region, particularly on Israel and Jordan.
“We may now get a government that is more attractive from the point of view of American interests,” Kissinger said, but added that pre-Mubarak and pre-Sadat history in the region should not be ignored.
“We've been so used to Sadat and Mubarak we forget for 30-year period before them it was a fount of nationalism, anti-U.S. activities,” he said. “So, I think Jordan will be vulnerable to some of these trends, and particularly if government after government is overthrown by demonstrations in the streets, it may set a pattern. I'm worried about Jordan.
“If we have disorder in the region, it is going to affect our economy and it's going to affect the prospects of peace in the whole region,” Kissinger concluded. “And it's been proved whenever the region blows up, the United States gets involved.”
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