FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Egypt

Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs

And finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution

– Tracy Chapman’s Talkin’ Bout A Revolution, 1988

The sleeping Egyptian giant has finally awoken.

The Arab world’s most populous nation—80 million strong—has been in political hibernation for 30 long years.

The deep slumber is now over. The reign of Hosni Mubarak will end, sooner or later, as a rejuvenated population sheds apathy’s blanket.

After Israel, Egypt is the second-largest recipient of United States foreign aid. Other than what was embezzled, the $1.5 billion in annual assistance has been spent entirely on the military and bolstering Mubarak’s internal security apparatus. It ultimately ensured the Camp David state remained complaint with the diktats coming out of Tel Aviv and Washington.

Indeed, as a result of peace treaties with its eastern and southern neighbors, Israel has had a free hand in continuing the repression and subjugation of Palestinians.

Take, for example, the crippling, inhumane siege imposed on Gaza. Even the most basic good and supplies were prevented from entering the tiny enclave. (This was the price Palestinians paid for holding democratic elections, which Hamas handily won.) Egypt, to no one’s surprise, enforced all embargo restrictions asked of it.

When Israel launched a vicious military campaign upon Gaza’s destitute population in December 2008, Egypt again became a willing accomplice. Many will contend Mubarak was complicit in those war crimes. By keeping the Rafah border crossing closed, he prevented the evacuation of both malnourished and maimed from a war zone.

Although Egyptians may have quietly seethed at this, it does not compare to the anger and resentment built up over decades of corruption and abuse. The people have grown weary of Emergency Law, implemented and maintained since Anwar Sadat’s 1981 assassination, that prohibits all forms of free speech, expression and assembly. It allows for the indefinite detention of any person without charge. Arrested civilians are then put on trial in front of closed military tribunals. The regime is also notorious for turning a blind eye to routine police brutality and torture.

In a Jan. 30 appearance on Meet the Press, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton commented on Mubarak’s inevitable removal from power:

“It needs to be an orderly, peaceful transition to real democracy, not faux democracy like the elections we saw in Iran two years ago, where you have one election 30 years ago and then the people just keep staying in power and become less and less responsive to their people.”

Iran? Or Egypt? Although far from perfect, Iran has held far more credible presidential elections than Egypt ever has. Why not hearken to Egypt’s “faux democracy” of just two months ago when Mubarak’s National Democratic Party captured an amazing 420 of 518 parliamentary seats (while the Muslim Brotherhood’s independents went from 88 to one)?

It was a telling self-indictment. The U.S has always tolerated the trappings of democracy in Mubarak’s Egypt, including a rubber-stamp parliament and elections where opposition candidates were either banned or unable to run due to an avalanche of bureaucratic obstacles.

Because he assumed his son Gamal would succeed him, Mubarak also never appointed a vice-president, in violation of Egypt’s constitution. That was until a few days ago when intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was hastily promoted to the job. Gamal has since fled to London.

In Tuesday’s protests, the scope of which was unprecedented in the history of modern Egypt, the world’s eyes were fixed on downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The hundreds of thousands gathered not only called for Mubarak’s ouster, but demanded he be put on trial. His hanging effigy conveyed to viewers that Egyptians will not be satisfied with a token cabinet reshuffle.

“Cairo today is all of Egypt,” said one. “I want my son to have a better life and not suffer as much as I did … I want to feel like I chose my president.”

Feeling the pressure, Jordan’s monarch King Abdullah II fired his cabinet as demonstrations in Amman continued. The Palestinian Authority under the discredited president Mahmoud Abbas vowed to hold municipal elections in the West Bank. Bahrain is ripe with discontent, to say the least. The same is true for Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh—who has ruled for 32-years—now says he won’t run for another term. Tunisians have already taken matters into their own hands.

Despite the best efforts of Mubarak, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel, the sleeping giant has awoken. And the mass protests we are witnessing in Egypt today … that is merely a yawn.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator.

 

More articles by:

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail