Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt Rising


Less than a week after my post entitled, Tunisia Rising,
Egypt is now in a state of violent unrest that threatens the survival of Hosni Murbarak's 32 year old regime. These latest events in Egypt have stunned me. It is amazing to think it all began with a disgruntled street vendor self immolating in Tunisia. It might end with a number of the Middle East's dictators being consigned to history's dustbin. I have great admiration for the Egyptian people who have said enough is enough, we are not willing to tolerate another 30 years of rule by Hosni Junior. I hope, I really really hope it ends well for them. What I mean by that is that I fear Mubarak, whose reign is I believe in its final weeks, will simply be replaced by another hard man disguising as a reformer, or worse by an Iranian style theocratic model led by the Muslim Brotherhood. The extremist Brotherhood have not yet featured but according to the New york Times they will be showing up at tomorrows protest. Everyones fear is that they will exploit this situation and hijack the legitimate grassroots movement that has spontaneously erupted. This is a real danger because unemployment and tackling corruption, the main grievances of the demonstrators in Egypt are issues that the Brotherhood are likely to be successful at dealing with, just as Hamas and Hezbollah have been in Gaza and Lebanon. When Mubarak falls, there must be a credible alternative, hopefully a democratic one, otherwise it is likely that the Muslim Brotherhood will take control of this massive nation. The international consequences of this would be staggering. The first thing to happen would be for the 1979 Israeli Egyptian peace treaty to be torn up. Hamas, buoyed by the Egyptian revolution and knowing that the new regime in Cairo would back them up will provoke a war with Israel. In the event of a war, the Egyptians would blockade the Suez canal seriously hampering global trade. This is all a very possible outcome. The next few weeks and how they unfold will I believe be among the most crucial days in the Middle East since the Iranian revolution. Reports tonight are that there is unrest in the Jordanian capital Aman. What in earth are we seeing here ?

This is the scene in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

3 comments:

Gary said...

Ted,

I agree. This thing is happening so fast and with so little buildup that it is impossible to see how far it will go. It is like a big ball suddenly bouncing in front of you and you want to avoid it but have no idea which direction it will bounce.

I believe there are two key factors to watch today and in the next few days. One is the military. They have the respect of the people and can influence things by their actions. Until now they have strongly supported Mubarak but that appears to be changing. There are reports of the military actually interfering with the police.

The other key is the very poor population of Egypt. Until today the protesters have been mainly from the more middle classes. If the poverty stricken majority of the population joins in with the protests -anything can happen.

The one ray of hope is that the military does not like the Brotherhood and it is hard to believe they would tolerate a new government controlled by them -but I am no expert of Egyptian politics. I just have not been paying attention (which has obviously been a big mistake).

Gary

Ted Leddy said...

Gary

I share your uncertainty. I keep thinking of Algeria in the early 1990's and how the military stepped in to prevent the Islamists from taking power. Something similar could happen here. Like most people I do not have much faith in the Egyptian democratic movement, but who knows, they might surprise us. Otherwise we are looking at a lesser of two evils situation. The west may have to adopt the Henry Kissinger view of international relations and make a choice. But as of now, events are so unpredictable, there is no outcome I am prepared to rule out.

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