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Mubarak's Day of Departure is his Day of Delay

By Christopher King

Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 8, 2011

Christopher King views the United States’ and Europe’s equivocal attitudes towards the people’s uprising in Egypt and considers what the impacts on Europe and the US might be if the uprising succeeds.

The people of Egypt restore one’s faith in humanity’s spirit and its aspirations. Despite vicious attacks by government thugs the demonstrators have remained peaceful while defending themselves. They long for democracy; so they should and their high spirits on the prospect of achieving it are justified. We see in Tahrir Square an inspirational spirit of cooperation in a people’s desire for freedom. One is shamed to reflect that Britain is a primary colluder with the dictator who had kept them poor and repressed and is still attempting to maintain his grip.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his government clearly do not want to resign. Despite unprecedented demonstrations across Egypt, well televised from Cairo and Alexandria, Mubarak and his government offer token concession but not Mubarak’s immediate resignation and no promise of immediate elections. These are what the demonstrators want; they have made that clear.

Mubarak is attempting to disperse the demonstrators with verbal concessions that have no guarantees of being kept even if they were to be acceptable. The people do not trust him. They know him best and do not accept his proposals for transitions arrangements. They know that his objective is to stay in power and do what he does best: arrest opponents, disappear activists, intimidate and tighten the grip of the security forces and secret police.

Do America and Europe want democracy in Egypt?

“President Obama and White House spokesmen have been finding it difficult to speak of Egypt. They speak hesitantly, evasively in vague, rambling, impenetrable language.”

The roles of the United States and the European Union are highly suspect. President Obama and White House spokesmen have been finding it difficult to speak of Egypt. They speak hesitantly, evasively in vague, rambling, impenetrable language. Obama vaguely “prays that the rights and aspirations of the people of Egypt will be realized.” Hillary Clinton and Obama speak about peaceful “transition”. It has been commented that “transition is one of the most abused words in recent memory.”

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for External Affairs, also uses vague language about transition, peaceful and calm streets, freedom, moving forward, building democracy, how democracy was valued etc, etc. At least she used the word democracy but took care to say that democracy was not achieved in a day or a year. It is true that other countries should not tell the Egyptians how they should run their country, nor that their president should leave. That is between Mubarak and his people.

What is noticeable is that neither the Americans nor the EU want to simply say that immediate free and fair democratic elections should be held. There is nothing in that to tell the Egyptians how they should be running their country. That is the well known American narrative of its world mission – to spread democracy to the oppressed and downtrodden. It has no hesitation in pressing this message elsewhere even if it has to bomb and invade countries such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy to them. One would imagine that it would leap to support the longing for democracy by the people of Egypt.

The fact is that neither the United States nor European Union want Egypt to become a true democracy. Dictators are much easier to deal with. It is merely a matter of bribery with taxpayer money and supply of weapons. Greed and self-interest are reliable; democratic ideals and patriotism are much less susceptible to manipulation.

We know that the White House is in contact with Mubarak through its envoy, Frank Wisner. Significantly, it was immediately after Wisner arrived in Egypt that the violent attacks, organized by the security services and police against the demonstrators, commenced.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has called for early elections. He deplored the government’s restrictions on the media and television.

The Egyptian revolution’s effects on Europe

“The success of the Egyptian revolution and its effects throughout the Muslim world will undermine the militaristic camp [in Europe].”

I will not rehearse the disgraceful behaviour of America and the European Union through NATO’s activities, nor their propaganda against Iran and denial of democracy to the Palestinians when it did not suit them. The establishment of democracy in Egypt will undermine all the American policies that Europe follows. To be more analytical, European politics has two camps: the humanitarian which favours peace, trade and democracy; the militaristic that promotes NATO and the US policies of armed invasions. The success of the Egyptian revolution and its effects throughout the Muslim world will undermine the militaristic camp. That would be an extremely positive outcome. Europe would be forced to re-examine both its Middle Eastern policies and the failure of ethics and humanitarianism on which they are based. It will be forced to examine the role of NATO and America’s role in Europe. The spirit of Tahrir Square will resonate in Europe.

The Egyptian revolution in America

The world is watching Egypt and America with fascination. Everyone knows that Mubarak is an American puppet. It might be that the White House will decide to embrace the democratic aspirations of the Egyptians and support Mubarak personally in exile. That would be a very satisfactory outcome. Mubarak must go now or soon in any case. The White House will be concentrating, therefore, on having someone who will be sympathetic to their policies replace him. One should not imagine that President Obama will leave the Egyptian people to select their leader without interference no matter what he says.

“It is possible that a democratic outcome in Egypt will cause some reappraisal of Islam and the US role in the Middle East but I am not hopeful.”

American political and public opinion is very different from that of Europe. Americans are generally Islamophobic and see the alternatives in Egypt as either a radical Islamic state that they fear or a dictatorship that they control and can live with. It is possible that a democratic outcome in Egypt will cause some reappraisal of Islam and the US role in the Middle East but I am not hopeful.

The American public is accustomed and receptive to propaganda by its elites that demonizes other countries. Americans are not given to questioning their government’s foreign policy nor granting to foreigners the same rights that they enjoy themselves. It is unlikely that fundamental change will occur within America. If America must change its Middle Eastern policies or even withdraw from the Middle East, it will refocus on closer countries, in particular Canada for energy and minerals and South America.

What happens next?

The great question is what will happen if Mubarak does not step down. The demonstrators have been peaceful until now but there are financial pressures on individuals and economic pressures on the country. Will it be necessary for Mubarak to be forcefully deposed?

The people have already voted by their numbers and their presence on the streets. At a certain point, before the revolution becomes violent it would be preferable for the army, that is behaving well, to escort Mubarak to the airport and fly him to a destination of his choice. The army should note the vote of the people, which is absolutely clear. In maintaining the peace it might have to choose between the people and a dictator.

Catherine Ashton has spoken of the formation of new committees that are presumably multiparty groups. If Mr Mubarak can be removed speedily there is no reason why elections cannot be quickly organized.

Mubarak and his sympathizers are delaying, attempting to out-wait the demonstrators and biding their time before attempting to re-take control. If that should occur, Obama will say that it is nothing to do with him. Some estimates are that about 300 persons have been killed and many more wounded. Too much blood has been spilled already. If there is more bloodshed, Mubarak’s trial will be demanded no matter where he might go.

I welcome the Egyptian revolution and the prospect of real democracy not only for the people of Egypt, but also for its effects on Europe.





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