February 2, 2011

On camels’ back? Really?

    Wednesday, February 02, 2011   No comments

by A.E. SOUAIAIA

The Egyptian regime’s latest display of brutality in the name of preserving one man’s rule is spectacularly shameful, and should be embarrassing to former allies than to Mubarak per se, for we know that he is a man of no shame already. The thugs that he unleashed in the streets chanting, “We sacrifice our blood, our soul, for you Mubarak,” is the tool with which he governed for 30 years. It is even more bewildering to see the indiscriminate brutality against peaceful demonstrators a day after he threaten that it is either “chaos or stability.” Stability coupled with brutality for which he is known or chaos for which he pays.

After eight days of non-stop protests, more than 300 deaths, and billions of dollars in damages and economic losses, the Egyptian authoritarian emerged to tell the people that he does not intend to run in the regularly scheduled September elections. He insisted on finishing his term as president to stabilize the country and to ensure smooth transition. Did it help? No. And it should not for a number of reasons.

1. It confirmed the Egyptian people’s suspicions that the 83 year old ruler was indeed thinking--if not committed--to run again. How else can his stepping down at the end of his term be some form of concession or compromise that should appease the protesters?

2. Mubarak’s speech was delivered hours after he met with President Obama’s special envoy. The timing could have given the impression that the US administration is behind this arrangement, especially after the administration’s emphasis on peaceful transition to democracy. Unless the administration comes out soon and makes its position clear, the Egyptian people and the Arab masses elsewhere will think that the US took the side of dictators, and they will reject his and the US proposal. Fortunately, the White House came Wednesday on the side of the people when it was declared that the change Obama hoped for was yesterday not in September.

3. After 30 years of governance, the Egypt that Mubarak built does not seem to have single leader who can do his job. That is hardly a complement to his rule. In fact, it proves that he, like many other Arab leaders, are stunningly delusional. They think that they are God’s gift to hopeless, helpless people who cannot govern themselves. His order to the police forces to pull out off the streets and unleash his thugs to terrorize protesters and perhaps provoke them to respond with violence—giving him and his well-armed troops to kill more people is descriptive of the kind of ruler he has been.

4. His staying in power to ensure safe transfer of power diminishes his vote of competence, his vouching for the credibility, and assurance of the ability of these new faces he put in charge of a new government. To be sure, one could only wonder what need is there for a vice president, a new prime minister, and new cabinet if Mubarak is desperately needed to keep the peace and oversee the transition?

5. Lastly, it will be a grave mistake to trust him or his regime to keep his word and honor the demands of the Egyptian people. After all, he has a 30 year record of mismanagement, corruption, cronyism, cruelty, and disregard to citizens’ basic rights.

In short, given the history of this and other Arab regimes, it will be supremely naïve of the people to give this authoritarian the benefit of the doubt. Mubaraks’ clinging to power in these dangerous times stresses the delusional state of mind and the pathological hunger for power from which he and many of his Arab cohorts suffer.

* Professor Souaiaia, teaches classes in the department of Religious Studies, International Programs, and College of Law at the University of Iowa. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the University or any other organization with which he is affiliated.


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