JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Hosni Mubarak had harsh words for the United States and what he described as its misguided quest for democracy in the Middle East in a telephone call with an Israeli lawmaker a day before he quit as Egypt's president.
"'They may be talking about democracy but they don't know what they're talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam,'" he quoted Mubarak as saying.
The legislator, former cabinet minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said on Israel TV Friday he came away from the 20-minute conversation Thursday with the feeling the 82-year-old leader realized "it was the end of the Mubarak era.""He had very tough things to say about the United States," said Ben-Eliezer, a member of the center-left Labor Party who has held talks with Mubarak on numerous occasions while serving in various Israeli coalition governments.
"He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: 'We see the democracy the United States spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that's the fate of the Middle East,'" Ben-Eliezer said.
U.S. support for pro-democracy elements in Iran has not led to regime change in the Islamic Republic, and Hamas, a group Washington considers to be a terrorist organization, won a 2006 Palestinian election promoted by the United States.Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a coalition government it formed with Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed in a power struggle.
"SNOWBALL" OF UNREST
In Washington, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hailed Mubarak's exit from power as a "pivotal moment" for the Middle East and insisted Egypt's democratic transition must be irreversible.Ben-Eliezer said Mubarak expanded in the telephone call on "what he expects will happen in the Middle East after his fall.""He contended the snowball (of civil unrest) won't stop in Egypt and it wouldn't skip any Arab country in the Middle East and in the Gulf."He said 'I won't be surprised if in the future you see more extremism and radical Islam and more disturbances -- dramatic changes and upheavals," Ben-Eliezer added.