Go Mubarak Go
Egyptians want to see his back. Now.
GUEST COLUMN BY SEEMA MUSTAFA
The determination and courage of the people of Egypt has won admiration all around. Even those who are supporting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for reasons best known to them, have had to admit that the uprising is genuine and honest. And that the very fact that thousands have come out on to the streets,fought those who tried to break the protest with violence, and held hands in a mammoth show of solidarity, highlights the brutality and the repression that Mubarak and his goons subjected them to for decades.
“This is the most remarkable regional uprising that I can remember,” Noam Chomsky said in an interview to Democracy Now. And went on to add what many know but are not articulating “Obama...is doing what US leaders regularly do. As I said there is a playbook...whenever a favoured dictator is in trouble, try to sustain him, hold on, if at some time it becomes impossible, switch sides.”
There is little of substance in what US President Barack Obama has been saying, the usual waffling in the hope that Hosni Mubarak---being staunchly supported by both Saudi Arabia and Israel---hangs on. If not, then a US backed puppet like the present vice president and Mubarak’s intelligence man Omar Suleiman is being readied for the post in the hope that the protestors, tired, fatigued, bloody will cave in and agree to the change. This will of course, not be a change, but an extension of Mubarak’s brutal policies that have hounded the people of Egypt to the point where life has become secondary to freedom.
Egypt is a crucial American and Israeli ally in the region. Neither country can afford to lose Egypt to democracy. So while the words from Washington might sound benign, the action and the effort to install another ‘friendly’ government in Cairo is definitely malignant. The carrot and stick policy is being used to break the peoples back. The kind words from the Army, the role of which is still to be defined, shortly before Mubarak’s security personnel come charging in on horses and camels with batons and clubs that they use mercilessly against the peaceful protestors does not seem to be incidental, but deliberate and planned. Obama speaks of restraint, of transition and change but takes exceptional care not to specify the time frame or the nature of the change, in yet another ruse to gain time.
The demonstration has acquired a momentum of its own. But the people cannot remain indefinitely at Tahir square without food, and vulnerable to attacks as and when the government wants. Several have been killed and hundreds injured. They have families and jobs and the lasting power of the regime will always far exceed that of the people, particularly when dictators in power choose not to listen, and to defy the will of their own people. This is exactly what Mubarak is counting on. The role of the Army remains unclear as it is appearing to be supportive of the protestors, with young soldiers clearly divided between the uniform and the movement, but it is still too early to say that the top generals will defy the Presidential command. Noted journalist and expert on West Asia Robert Fisk has said in an interview that the soldier was clearly responding to pressure from his family, and while this might be a consideration for the military generals in keeping the army out of the fray as it were, it is still not the certain truth.
Egypt has been an inspiration to the people of the oppressed Arab nations. Not surprisingly the Palestinian Authority that has acquired the arrogance and the pomp of governments without still having a state of its own, cracked down on anti-Mubarak protestors in the West Bank and instead allowed ten Mubarak supporters to stage a demonstration. Hamas, of course, allowed the protests in a move that has earned it huge popularity in the region.
Those supporting Mubarak across the world, including India, argue with him that an overthrow will bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power. It will not, but even if it was going to so be it. It is of the utmost importance today to ensure the success of a peoples’ movement in the region. If Mubarak is able to crush it, repression will be heavy and the brutality immeasurable. It might take decades for the people to rise again, so it is absolutely necessary for them to win so that they have the confidence and the realisation that they have the power to determine governments. That they and not the men who sit in the seats of power, are the true rulers. This is the fundamental requirement for true democracy.
The world around is nervous as the power of the people, as revolutions around the world have shown, is enormous. Jordan is speaking of reforms which makes one ask that if the King was aware of how unpopular is government was, why did he not do something about this a long while ago. Now every autocratic government in the region is talking about reforms, changing ministers, talking of consulting the people but clearly have lost their links with the people. Its strange, however, that India has been slow to react. Or perhaps, on second thoughts not that strange, as the UPA government is following a foreign policy "congruent" to that of the United States, and finds it difficult to embrace peoples movements. As in Nepal where till date New Delhi was trying hard to keep the Maoists out of power, even as it flirted with status quoist forces in the country. In Egypt too the Ministry of ExternalAffairs took its time to respond, and even then gave a weak statement signifying nothing.
All in all it seems that the resilience of the people of Egypt is paying dividends. And Mubarak will have to go, now not later.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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