Recent protests against regimes of power in a string of Arab nations — including, most notably, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia — have palpably dominated the headlines of several news networks. Even CNN and FOX have devoted significant coverage to these stories of revolution and rebellion that typically only find their narratives on sites like Al-Jazeera.
Despite this rare window of widespread communication, the mainstream version of what exactly is gong on in Egypt fails to elaborate. Luckily, independent media has, once again, taken over this responsibility.
The Real News Network, an online non-profit media outlet that collects and arranges a variety of stories with a focus on war and foreign policy, recently posted an interview with Amjad Atallah, Co-Director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation.
In the interview, Mr. Atallah explains the history and circumstances behind the protests in Egypt, revealing the extent to which U.S. foreign policy and its relationship to the Arab world have shaped and cultivated these atmospheres of anger and outrage.
Particularly, Atallah notes that when President Obama labels Egypt’s leader, Hosni Mubarak, as a “pillar of stability,” he is referencing more complex connections between the two nations than what such a surface-level quote might suggest.
Like its neighbor to the west, Tunisia, Egypt’s government has consitently deceived its citizens via corrupted regimes, elections and military power. The U.S. has abetted these undemocratic endeavors, financially and diplomatically, as it has in Tunisia, too.
Without the support of the U.S. and Egypt, for example, Israel’s role in sustaining poverty and apartheid in the Gaza Strip would not have been possible. “Pillar of stability?” Sure. But what’s being stabilized for whom? Who really benefits?
Atallah also makes a good point in stressing that the U.S. could utilize this opportunity to redirect paths of understanding between Egyptians and Americans, between Arabs and USAers.
In the end, however, the complete absence of this narrative from mainstream discourse is problematic. Even though networks like CNN and FOX may provide coverage on these revolutions, they fail to attach contextual analysis along with it.
Capitalizing on the raw human emotions of anger does not give justice to Egypt’s political reality, or Tunisia’s, or Jordan’s. Without providing the historical and political relevancy whose origins are important to understand, the mainstream media forsakes solid, comprehensive journalism in favor of more lucrative distractions like slideshows on the destruction, quotes on unbelievable violence. These are things that need coverage and are imperative to the entire event itself.
Nevertheless without substantive debate or analyses, the mainstream media is leaving us behind in what the “random violence” in Egypt actually means to Americans, and from whose decisions it may have stemmed.