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Pharaoh's day after
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-02-12 10:33:47
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When you read headlines like “Goodbye Mubarak, welcome freedom” with the Egyptian military having taken over a country that lives the last decade with an emergency law you start wandering if we really know what’s going on. The same time new mass marches are getting ready in Algeria and Jordanians are preparing for the second round. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia scared of the domino effect of the chances haven’t reacted on Mubarak’s resignation, neither informs their own people and I have flashes and a déjà vu from the past when the media were celebrating the end of the Shah is Persia missing the coming of Khomeini and his gang.

And don’t think that the wandering stops here, Mohammed ElBaradei is waiting and wandering for the day after but how the people will react to him is a totally different thing and the expectation; the expectations will be too high for a man who has to change the fundamentals of the Egyptian state including the state bureaucracy, the army and the security forces, police and others. A state that took its form in the years of president Gamal Abdel Nasser and continues under marshal law since 1967; a country that has played a controversy role in the Middle East conflict and often accused as the eyes and ears of the Americans in the area. A country where Islam dominates and radicals are nothing new even for the internal politics with extremism something that hurts seriously the tourists industry.

A country where education is privilege connected with money and the gap between rich and poor is gigantic and the army is the guard of the secular state, the very same army that controls most parts of the state bureaucracy from the backgrounds and has support the rulers of the country pointing that most of them have military background. In the mean time Islamic radicalism has invaded the country for long and it is there to stay with the Shi'a population – supported always from Iran and its mullah dictators – from a miniature minority to has strengthen the last few years sometimes pushing away the traditional but “alternative” Sufi.

Thousands of people in Cairo and Alexandria celebrate their freedom but what are they expecting is a totally different case. Actually these people are expecting freedom without been able to identify this freedom, the only thing they know is that they don’t want what they lived with Mubarak, but is ElBaradei the alternative or is he the next one who will be there with the support of the army to guard controversial interests and the secular character of the country.

This moment the generals are not very happy with the situation that has land on their laps, is one thing to be the puppeteer from behind the heavy curtains and another to stand in the front of the masses full of expectations and intoxicated from their power. And the army doesn’t like this intoxication because as usual the army, especially an army used to the power for decades and control from the background is scared of an intoxicating public and they start making worst case scenarios. But worst case scenarios are planned from the other side as well and from the other and other – because this minute there are many sides in Egypt all of them with strong agendas.

But then again nothing of all the above might be truth and they are all scenarios but nobody knows, because this minute there are still people in the streets and the general spirit that we won without anybody been sure, knowing or carrying at the moment who these “we” are and what colour and shape freedom will have!

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Emanuel Paparella2011-02-12 16:30:26
Interesting analysis Thanos, but perhaps ambiguity is the best that realistically can be advanced at the moment. One cannot fault the people for the euphoria they feed at bringing down a de facto dictator, and people of good will who espouse democratic ideals, ought to always be on the side of freedom and self-determination. But, the jury is still out on how this revolution will end and if it was worthwhile. One cannot forget how it ended in Iran (with Komeni and the theocracy of the mullahs) or to go further back in history, how it ended in France (with a Napoleon), or in Russia (with a Stalin) or in China (with a Mao) or in Cuba (with a Castro). In all those instances the security and national emergencies trumped freedom and dictator “heroes” came to the fore to save the country’s dignity while freedom remained a distant aspiration. Revolutions are wonderful events when they are peaceful and end well with the installment of a government of the people, by the people, for the people (as hopefully will be the case in Egypt), but there is no guarantee that they will inevitably lead to democracy; in fact that’s not what history teaches. Perhaps the best we can expect is that the Egyptian army guarantees a secular Egypt protecting it from Moslem religious fanaticism which would like to impose Sharia religious law on the whole country, not to dissimilar of what obtains in present day Turkey; for the Egyptian army has certainly not guaranteed freedom and democracy, so far. It all remains to be seen. I think the US, if it truly is on the side of the people, as it is being proclaimed, would be well advised to suspend the one billion dollar a year to the army till they make those guarantees of a transition to democracy.

Emanuel Paparella2011-02-12 16:49:32
Correction: "they feed" should be "they feel."

Jack2011-02-12 23:20:20

I am glad for the Egyptian people, but as you stated so well, time will tell. This is far from being over and it is anybodies guess as to what the future portends for Egypt. I do wish them well, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The devils in the details. The world is holding their breath.

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