Sunday, January 30, 2011

As Mubarak prepares to exit stage right

Israel hasn't put a fine point on its ally Mubarak's future. The Zionist state embued its pronouncement with an Asian flourish: 'El rais' has lost face before his people. As a consequence, he has lost his 'mojo' of an Egyptian sphinx, silent and all knowing. For the Egyptian street has awakened to the reality that the pharaon has no clothes on.
Mubarak's US stout companion is counselling him to 'transit' the door!
Meanwhile, the former airforce general has appointed his country's head spook Omar Suleiman as vice president and more importantly another former airforce general Ahmed Shafik as prime minister.
The Egyptian street is not mollified. It continues to pour out into the streets, calling for Mubarak to go and is unwilling to accept his crony Suleiman. As army jets sweep low over the centre of Cairo, the army is slowly but surely the instrument of transition. So far, the armed forces have not cracked down on the demonstrators, but will have to act more forcefully as public anger descends into looting. More broadly speaking, they will draw more tightly the strings of power into their own hands. Nonetheless, like the street, we wonder if they have a programme to open up the long repressed Egypt, to work for economic justice and opportunity, and to encourage a 'renaissance' culturally, thereby restoring civil society open to all?
Mubarak may understand what is happening to him. Still he has lost touch and his hold on power has become glaringly untenable. For the moment, he has the backing of his general, but for how long? Shafik's appointment is a bellwether. It points to change, and as GuamDiary took note, he will go the way of the Indonesian strongman Suharto.
The Obama White House is on pins and needles: it is scrambling to rescue its challenged Middle East policy whereby Mubarak played an important role. Israel is biting its fingernails, and is resisting the opportunity to incorporate the Palestinian west bank into a Greater Israel.
Demonstrations in northern Sudan is a warning to its dictator al Bashir, and might offer a breathing space for southern Sudan as it feels its way to nationhood and a better margin to divide the spoils of oil, as well as a relief to the people of Dafur.
The gentle pulsating waves of great change emanating out of Tunisia are ushering a new world abornin' in the Arab world and soon beyond. The outcome may not always be the same, but the fossilised ruling classes are on warning that things have to change before its too late. Will they listen? It ain't easy to let the reins of power go slack, and for rulers a sign of weakness. So where is the philosopher king who will set an example?
On another front, Mubarak cut off 'FaceBook', 'Twitter', and other social networks which the Egyptian people used to re enforce 'people power'. Yet, it took him more than a week to throw 'Al Jazeera' whose reporting and imagines caught the spirit of revolt in the streets of Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria, out of the country. Was he afraid of alienating the Gulf States? Or his inability to 'control' 'Al Jazeera' reveals in an odd way, he was fighting for his life as ruler of Egypt?
Whatever the reason, once the 'jacquerie' broke out, Mubarak's goose was cooked. And now, the military will have to gently push him out of power. The Egyptian generals will don the mouldy uniforms of the 1952 revolt of the colonels who chased the corrupt king Farouk out to exile to the fleshpots of Italy. The military will now direct the fate of Egypt and its pivotal role in the Arab world and Africa.
The US and the broader world media with few exceptions -- Al Jazeera and the BBC come readily to mind -- betray a grasp on what is happening in Egypt, let alone the Arab world. They tend to re run images of the streets of Tehran in 1979 or raise the specter of the Muslim Brotherhood which missed the boat during recent events in Egypt. Occasionally a fresh voice is heard, but, alas, is drowned out by the same talking heads who have a poor record on what's happening in the Middle East and Muslim world.
So, it is not a matter of will Mubarak step down, but when!

No comments:

Post a Comment