A professor at UW Madison is among those closely watching events in Egypt. Jennifer Lowenstein is a faculty associate in Middle Eastern Studies at UW. She thinks it’s unlikely President Hosni Mubarak can remain in office until September when – he’s said – he won’t seek reelection. “The feeling on the street that we can see on our television screens or read about, they’re ready for him to go now,” said Lowenstein. And Lowenstein said it’s ‘hypocritical’ for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to call on the Egyptian government to listen to the people there. “This should have been the case thirty years ago. Where has the United States been all these decades, while people in Egypt have been summarily detained, tortured, in some cases executed, where there have been thousands of political prisoners.”
Lowenstein said U.S. support has been the essential element in Mubarak’s reign. “He has been able to maintain the hold he’s had over Egypt – with of course the crucial support of the military and martial law which has more or less been in effect for thirty years – primarily because of the support of the United States.” Lowenstein isn’t sure what the long term outcome pf the Egyptian uprising will be. “I would like to see it go all the way, meaning to end up in a situation where Egypt has a genuinely Democratic government, that is run by the people of Egypt. I don’t know that that’s what will happen.”
Lowenstein teaches an introductory course on the modern Middle East at the UW. “These students I believe are genuinely interested in the Middle East,” she said. “They really want to find out why the Middle East is the way it is. At the same time there’s a huge level of ignorance. You can’t even blame them. Where are they going to get the information that they need to make educated assessments or analysis of what’s happening?” She said the more Americans educate themselves about the Middle East, the more we can pressure politicians here to make more intelligent policies.