Uncovering the cover-ups, WikiLeaks has received blanket coverage this week on all media outlets around the world.
However, authoritarian governments and tightly controlled media in places like Egypt have suppressed nearly any mention of the documents, seeking to avoid the public backlash that could be the result of unrestrained depictions of their leaders’ views. Many Egyptians fail to grasp the meaning of these documents, if they did, anger would abound. But for many, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the WikiLeaks documents simply verify what they have been saying all along; that the ruling regime is subservient to the US and does not reflect the best interests of their own population.
WikiLeaks has proven that the Egyptian government is skeptical of the role of the US in promoting democracy, arguing that any efforts to open up will result in empowering the Muslim Brotherhood and the NDP’s loss of power. On the other side of the coin, WikiLeaks includes US criticism about Egypt’s use of the Emergency Law and undermining civil liberties in the name of counter-terrorism.
This puts the rigged Egyptian elections in a new light, as the US – the biggest advocates of democracy – do nothing while democracy is trampled on by the Egyptian regime. In fact, WikiLeaks indicates that the US is quite pleased with Egypt’s ability to effectively fight terrorism – which they strangely believe includes the MB - on its own terms and in its own way, pleased that terrorists or would-be terrorists would not find a safe haven in Egypt. At the same time, however, they ignore the fact that the Egyptian regime – by its brutality, unjust arrests and use of torture - has rendered itself a ‘terrorist state’. Nevertheless, the US does warn Egypt that arresting leading figures of the MB could prove to be a problem in the long-run, cautioning that the Egyptian government’s repressive measures could backfire, rousing more sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood and highlighting the regime’s lack of security and support.
The US is struggling to balance recalcitrant allies like Egypt, keeping peace between potentially volatile rivals – Egypt and Iran – and retaining its image as international peace keeper, well wisher and negotiator. Quite a juggling act. Despite its portrayal, Egypt is not necessarily a docile US partner, and the US is often ‘frustrated’ with the regime.
WikiLeaks has unveiled Egypt’s intention to develop a nuclear weapons program if Iran does – justifying its stance saying that ‘we are all terrified’ – and this indicates that, because of the sensitive nature of the region, the US may well be fighting a losing battle in Egypt and the Middle East.
It takes courage for the Muslim Brotherhood to voice their views and adhere to their no-violence policy, in a country where criticizing the leader is a line that should never be crossed. Meanwhile, the regime pretends to shield its people from the harmful information contained in the documents, while it seeks a line of defense to save its nation, and its own face, from the handling, or mishandling of very sensitive information.
From now on, dissidents, pro-democracy activists and others may well be more close-mouthed when speaking to U.S. diplomats, unsure if their private words might one day be publicly reported. With WikiLeaks making every American and Egyptian nightmare come true, a secret, is no longer a secret.