Nation contributor and author of Engaging the Muslim World Juan Cole appeared on Democracy Now! this morning to explain how the uprisings taking place in Egypt are part of a larger movement in the region. A series of Arab nationalist regimes that have been mostly secular have become “sclerotic,” Cole explains, and in Egypt’s case, the government now exercises great control over its people through a “state elite.”

“Egypt is a praetorian regime,” Cole says, and suggests Mubarak, who has been ruling for thirty years, is a leader defined by his military background. On Vice President Joe Biden’s suggestion that Mubarak is not a dictator, Cole says that Biden seems to be making that conclusion based on "the responsible role" Egypt plays in in international world and not by domestic politics in Egypt.

On US military aid to Egypt, which host Amy Goodman notes is about $2 billion annually, Cole explains the aid is a “bit of a shell game.” Congress ensures that all aid provided comes from US corporations. He talks about how the aid was initiated “because Egypt made a peace treaty with Israel” and it is how Congress more or less bribes Egypt into remaining on good terms with Israel.

Kevin Gosztola