Patt Morrison for February 1, 2011

Worries as long as the Nile, American foreign policy looks to adapt to a new era in Egypt

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Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Protestors gather in Tahrir Square on February 1, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Protests in Egypt continued with the largest gathering yet, with many tens of thousands assembling in central Cairo, demanding the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian army has said it will not fire on protesters as they gather in large numbers in central Cairo.

It was probably inevitable that some anger in the protests in Egypt would eventually be aimed at the United States. After all, the U.S. was Hosni Mubarak’s biggest benefactor for 30 years, and has also habitually supported strongman dictators across the Middle East since the end of World War II. So as the world watches to see what happens in Egypt and whether a truly democratic government can take hold in an Arab-Islamic country, officials, analysts and politicians in the United States are wondering what’s next in their dealings with Egyptians and the entire region. There have been calls for President Obama to give up on Mubarak and ally himself strongly with Egypt’s protesters, even it means that a slightly less friendly government might take hold; but if he were to do that, what kind of message would the president be sending to other American allies in the region that are ruled by autocrats, from Jordan to Yemen and Saudi Arabia? Is the upheaval in Egypt a golden opportunity to revamp the entire American approach to the Middle East?

Guests:

Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government & he sits on the editorial board of Foreign Policy magazine

Ahmed Alfi, 35-year resident of Los Angeles; he and his family moved back to Cairo 5 years ago. He and his wife are on a layover in London right now. They left Cairo on Saturday after looting began


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