Sander A. Diamond: Will a Moderate Egypt Survive?

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Sander A. Diamond is a professor of history at Keuka College, N.Y.]

At the center of the Islamic world sits Egypt, located on the western edge of the Fertile Crescent. It was here, in the Nile Valley, where civilization emerged 7,000 years ago.

While most people know little about modern Egypt, they are familiar with ancient Egypt, which still casts a long shadow into the present....

And, of course, everyone knows that the Suez Canal, built in the mid-19th century, is one of the world’s lifelines for transit. Egypt’s strategic importance cannot be overestimated. In World War II, one of the initial aims of the allies was to keep it out of German hands, and thanks to the British and the Americans, Rommel’s Afrika Korps was evicted from North Africa, preventing it from taking Suez.

Along with Turkey, a member of NATO and a Muslim nation, Egypt is the pivot of the region, a friend and ally of Washington for more than 40 years.

Today, we have seen a successful effort to oust President Hosni Mubarak, who came to power after the assassination of President Sadat on Oct. 6, 1981.

How this crisis will play out is an open question, but with Mubarak stepping down, the door may be open for a more democratic Egypt. What Washington and the European Union fear is that Egypt will fall into more chaos, and out of this chaos, the Muslim Brotherhood will emerge....

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