Mubarak Tips Foes Toward Civil War


[Egypt veered toward civil breakdown yesterday as protests turned violent following a speech by President Hosni Mubarak that took a hard line against demonstrators’ demands.  Following is a timely commentary from Cam Fitzgerald, a frequent contributor to Rick’s Picks and the readers’ forum.  RA] 

It really is very unfortunate what has transpired in Egypt over the past few hours. The country has abruptly lurched from a peaceful populist uprising against a despised leader and into the makings of civil war within hours of Mubarak’s speech to his countrymen. This is not a big surprise. The leaders of the uprising had demanded nothing less than Mubarak’s immediate ouster. They painted themselves into a corner with a demand that was sure not to be met. When Mubarak subsequently stated that he will stay on for nine more months, the balance of his term,  AND seek to arrest those that were responsible for the instability, arson of buildings and vehicles etcetera, Egyptians everywhere knew instantly that the seeds were sown for an explosive outcome in the words of his speech. 

Mubarak said exactly what was guaranteed to make the protesters as uncomfortable as possible. Their worst fears materialized instantly. The much hated leader basically told them he would stick around to pay back those who stood up against him. His words were a clear threat and a recipe for disaster, as every Egyptian heard exactly what was really encoded in his message. I just shook my head in disbelief as I listened to the “analysis of the moment” by one of the media talking heads as she spun the speech in a positive way to leave the impression that Mubarak was an honourable leader who had worked hard to serve his country. Indeed, Mr. Mubarak himself stated that he had “exhausted his life” in his work on behalf of the country. What he meant to say was “he had exhausted the treasury,” but that would have been far too blunt. 

Follow the Money 

Unsurprisingly, coverage by the U.S. news media overlooked some of the specific reasons why Egyptians are so angry at Mubarak. Do they not know that his personal fortune is estimated to be somewhere in the range of $40 billion. Does anyone think he made all that money honestly? What that $40 billion really represents, from the perspective of most Egyptians, is plain-vanilla theft. Of course, here in North America we know better. The U.S. bought Mubarak’s loyalty and 30 years of peace in the Middle East, and his wealth in fact represents roughly half of all the U.S. dollar contributions to Egypt over the time he has held power. Naturally this leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Just the idea that he might now secure that wealth and be able to shift his money out of the country over the remaining months of his term is poison to Egyptians. The fact that he will try to exact revenge on his opponents at the same time he secures his fortune is insanity to his opposition and totally untenable to the protesters. Riots were the only possible outcome. 

The country is now in turmoil, with protesters turning against one another. This is the expected outcome. It is an effective strategy of the government as it takes the pressure off the president for the moment. Here we have a classic divide and conquer strategy. Chaos and anarchy are breaking out in place of the very focused energy of the revolt, as the anger has instead been diffused into neighbourhood feuds and personal conflicts as pro- and anti-government forces clash, unleashing all their anger and waging war on one another instead of against the president.  Do not suppose for even a moment that Mubarak is not a tactician, strategist and a true warrior at heart. This final act of his was scripted beautifully from his perspective and the 90% of his populace that never participated in the uprising will now be calling for the military to crush the nascent revolt before the nation is totally destroyed by the fighting. It is unlikely that this will end in anything other than bloodshed and riots as the military is finally forced to intervene. 

The Real Price 

As it is, Egyptians already blame the US administration and other Western nations for not having been more supportive of the protesters and not having taken a firmer stand against Mubarak while demanding that he step down. How much more resentful will they become as their cities turn to smoking ruins while Mubarak continues to cling to power and to his ill-gotten gains? In his speech, as Mubarak was telling his people that he would “die in the land of Egypt,” I heard that one of the protestors immediately quipped that the people were going to give him his wish. The real price Egypt is now paying is not the humiliation of the theft from its treasury by an oppressive and arrogant dictator, but the sudden realization the country is now on the path to a civil war. 

A very big price indeed. The Pharaohs must be turning in their graves. 

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  • Rich February 3, 2011, 11:13 pm
  • Rich February 3, 2011, 11:10 pm
  • Rich February 3, 2011, 10:28 pm

    Muslim Brotherhood would end Egyptian peace with Israel:

  • Rich February 3, 2011, 10:14 pm

    Million man Egyptian Army likely to determine the ruler of Egypt:

  • Jim February 3, 2011, 10:07 pm

    Couple of things. When i check what is happening in my own mind. First off i’d love to hear Mario’s jazz concert. Next, i am convinced that some sort of wake up will happen in the US. There are certainly a million scenarios, but it seems to me that the younger generation, not so entrenched in life ( and probably unemployed with lots of student debt), start seeing that they don’t have a lot of hope for a bright future, so off to the streets they might go. Being a child of the freeway marches in the late 60’s , i certainly can see something popping up and grabbing our attention toward the economic rape and pillaging of our country and our futures. Maybe i’ll go march. Question is however is how violent could it get. I think it could start reasonably peaceful, but you see how things have turned in Egypt.

    Real honestly guys, i am so disgusted with the political and economic robbery that has and continues to take place… integrity, no honesty, and people asleep about it. I will scream if i hear one more blurp about us being in a recovery. Sorry for the rant….

  • Rich February 3, 2011, 10:05 pm
  • Dave February 3, 2011, 9:34 pm

    Rick, you have a 404 on your Thurs just in link

  • dennis February 3, 2011, 8:52 pm

    Great article Rick.
    I made only a few changes (shown in caps) and wonder if it might not be closer to home than we think.

    “The country is now in turmoil, with protesters turning against one another. This is the expected outcome. It is an effective strategy of the BANKING CARTEL as it takes the pressure off the BANKERS for the moment. Here we have a classic divide and conquer strategy. Chaos and anarchy are breaking out in place of the very focused energy of the revolt, as the anger has instead been diffused into neighbourhood feuds and personal conflicts, unleashing all their anger and waging war on one another instead of against the BANKERS THEMSELVES.
    Do not suppose for even a moment that THE BANKING CARETEL is not a tactician, strategist and a true warrior at heart. This final act was scripted beautifully from ITS perspective and the 90% of his populace that never participated in the uprising will now be calling for the military to crush the nascent revolt before the nation is totally destroyed by the fighting. It is unlikely that this will end in anything other than bloodshed and riots as the military is finally forced to intervene.”

  • Aussie Mick February 3, 2011, 6:49 pm

    Wake up to reality..there can be no peace in Egypt. Show me one islamic country in which the people live in peace, with freedom of choice. Freedom to choose who you worship, if you worship….freedom to choose how you dress, who you marry, with whom you associate. Freedom of the press (this is a concept that no longer exists, as the media are ‘owned’ and do the bidding of their masters). When you lose freedom of choice…what do you have left ?

    • cosmo February 3, 2011, 9:01 pm

      When I went to Pakistan a year ago I met folks that were members of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. They had ‘community centers’ instead of mosques, the women were dressed in shalwar kameez in the community as opposed to shut in home. Aga Khan, the Imam, was revered because I saw countless community projects with his name on it; schools, hospitals, education for women, business training and loans. I was impressed and thought that if all muslims could live this way the ‘Religeon of Peace’ would be welcomed in the west.

      So too, when I was in Nepal and half the population is illiterate, the political parties used ‘book’, ‘flower’ and ‘tree’ to identify their party. From this, democracy can only work with an educated, well informed, critical thinking! voting population(sadly lacking in the US,IMO) Otherwise you have mob rule(demonstrated well by GWB, ignoring half of the country)

      Mubarak is a dictator that has fed at the trough of US aid and enriched himself(along with so many others like him) The ‘people’ are speaking to throw the chains of oppression, not necessarily democracy. I mean really, look where ‘democracy’ has gotten the US. An overbloated, parasite feeding, zombie land of brainwashed idiots(present company excepted) without a clue as to what it will take to change it. I thought Ron Paul in ’08 was the last best hope, but in reality I wonder how much even he could’ve changed.

      The world to me is calling for simpler times to get real about what is important in life. Food clothing shelter love and friends to share it with. All else is just complicating and adding burden to an otherwise peaceful existence.

      Simplify, my friends, and enjoy life

  • Anthony F February 3, 2011, 6:18 pm

    BBC guest commentary…
    Those agitating for escalation ought to recall the anti-Saddam uprisings of 1991 by Kurds and others, in which the US first encouraged and then shied away from supporting resistance.
    The result was massacres under the eyes of the international community.
    At this time it seems a probable outcome… but this will only make the region more volatile and deepen the hate and violence in the future

    The USA may favor another strategy, just a game change, influence the replacement of the “Dictator” and work to get a friendlier new government in place.
    It actually worked rather well in a country such as Chile.

    Yet, all the players Today are smarter, in part thanks to the Internet, so the outcome is rather unpredictable.

  • Robert February 3, 2011, 5:41 pm

    Oh well.. I guess my observations the other day turned out to be exactly the what I thought they were…

    Thanks Cam for your viewpoints.

    Regarding the observations of greed made by JJ, Mario and others- I agree totally. Greed is most certainly the by-product of ignorance, if not outright stupidity.

    Greed stems from that supremely ugly perspective that some people have that they are somehow superior to others by matter of law, or worse- by divine intervention. They therefore believe fundamentally that they are entitled to what they want and they bare no regard for how their actions impact anyone (or everyone) else…

    While I agree that Al Capone must be villified for being murderous, one can not get past the fact that if, like the modern drug runners in Central America, Al Capone had been allowed to conduct his commerce as a free man serving a free market, that there would have been no reason for the killing or for the terror.

    When a market exists, that market will be served. Even when the market is centered around addictive, debilitating, and usually lethal chemicals, the underlying foundation remains as universally fundamental as gravity and sunshine-

    When a market exists, that market will be served.

    Legality should only act to preserve fairness and justice in said markets- the minute legality attempts to subvert, diminish, or completely abolish a market, the line between “us” and “them” becomes drawn for all to see; and the the gunfire starts.

    The Egyptian people are in the market for some new, and hopefully representative, government.

    Mubarak, by going on television and declaring that he intends to challenge their demands with legality (as opposed to justice and fairness) means that the lines are being drawn for all to see…

    And then the gunfire starts.

    • Benjamin February 3, 2011, 11:43 pm

      “The Egyptian people are in the market for some new, and hopefully representative, government.”

      Yes, I can more clearly see that now (I admit… I was ranting in my first post).

      And what if they have to side with elements that might well make the world a more dangerous place? Well, they could always use that to weaken the hold of those who have it on them, both presently and any government they might have in the future. Divide and conquer works both ways.

      By the same token, perhaps we, the U.S. citizens, should consider the opportunity that rising conflict would offer. We can act more effectively and with less domestic violence the more we send troops away to other places (but there will be violence, somewhere, somehow. No escaping that, so we might as well stop hoping for bloodless, for all that there is already tons of blood spilled over the decades).

  • nitram February 3, 2011, 3:41 pm

    What’s the first thing one does before he/she goes out to riot for the day? Put your shoes on. Check the picture. Then read this article. Dow 12,000? Come on someone not telling the truth.

  • ben February 3, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Why would you associate a wild violent mob with “Democracy?” I think Cam Fitzgerald has been unduly influenced by media types like Christianne Amanpour who throw around their conjecture as fact, report their fantasies as if it were news, and would support anything that woud weaken America. The fact is the people in Egypt have it better than most Arab nations, and Mubarak, military dictator he may be, was no Saddam Hussein…not by a long shot. After the Muslim Brotherhood murdered Sadat as he sat next to him, and shot him too, how could he be expected to support a representative government when 50% of the populace support the Muslim Brotherhood? Some other examples in the Islamic world where people have some ability to vote…Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza…did not lead to results that anyone in the Western World would call desirable. So no…I guess I don’t support Democracy in Egypt…I rather have a military strongman imposing order. And I have absolutely no qualms saying so as a freedom-loving American. I want people who share my values to have Democracy…not people who want to destroy me and my country.

    This breakout of “Democracy” may ultimately lead to the fall of the pro-Western governments in the Mideast. Aside from $250 per barrel oil…you can expect terrorism and jihad to take on all new meanings as the terrorists will now have tanks, fighter jets, and weapons of mass destruction. What a fool a person must be to look at this anarchy in Egypt as a positive thing. Democracy in the Middle East is just a euphamism for establishment radical anti-Western governments. This is after all what the masses want. Is this really what you want though?

    • Benjamin February 3, 2011, 11:23 pm

      It’s tough to say that people want this and that, as a whole. Given the situtation there (see rock post, earlier), I have to say that I would, if I were Egyptian, side with anyone who supplied arms. Deals with the devil, as Daniel Webster showed, are null and void as a matter of general principle. And even if he didn’t say that, I did, and I’m right.

      That’s why we shouldn’t tangle. Appearances are deceiving, but even if they would move to attack us, so be it. At a time, our country and government was the sort that would take that risk, and would spare nothing to make sure all such action would be met without force in kind. Brave folks, they were, and that’s why the Republic existed at all.

  • Jess Turner February 3, 2011, 3:02 pm

    This is just another bungle of the present administration. This had been brewing for some time and nothing was done. The time to intervene was before this broke out dealing advising the situation with Mubarak. We have a weak administration and the whole world is going to down the tubes. This happened in Honduras not long ago and the world didn’t even flench because it was a nobody country, but a big alley of the U.S. This administration tried to assist in the take over of Communism, taking the sides of Chavez and Zelaya. The U.S. is the Super power and peace keeper! When you have someone running the country as we have now, should we be seeing something different? I think not!

  • FranSix February 3, 2011, 1:37 pm

    The military would be out of business if the U.S. withdraws aid, which is a very good probability if they attack the pro-democracy movement.

    Right now, the police, who are recipients of U.S. government largesse as well, are very likely falling into disfavour with their providers.

    Like I said, go to and read up on the Tunisian pro-democracy uprising.

    • Cam Fitzgerald February 3, 2011, 1:53 pm

      Insofar as Mubarak and leading members of his regime are concerned, both the US and UK have the ability to bring tremendous influence to bear as substantial amounts of the wealth that the Mubarak clan have been acquired over the years is in England and America.

      Just the hint that properties and bank accounts might be sold off, seized and repatriated back to Egypt should be enough to convince Mubarak to back off and cut it short.

      The West does have the power to persuade where money is involved. Perhaps Hilary will refresh Hosni’s memory of who the boss really is when she makes her next phone call.

    • Larry D February 3, 2011, 6:08 pm

      With 100% precision I can tell you what Hosni’s response to our lard-bottomed Secretary of State’s telephone call would be.

      Cam’s memory might be jogged by the 1979 Iranian revolution and the impotence of the West there.

    • Benjamin February 3, 2011, 11:05 pm


      Thanks for the reply. I did read the wiki but threats of cutting off funding were not even mentioned at all, which is consistent with the fact that people pressed in order to get what they sought. I even broke down into doing word searches to see if I would come across something I might’ve missed. Nadda. But I do think you’re reading between the lines correctly, if only, imv, you have it backwards. If you’ll bear with me here…

      When the U.S. cheers both sides, we’re hedging our bets. On the one hand, we don’t want to be seen as siding against angry, oppressed people. On the other hand, should the dictator even look like they’re starting to gain control again, we don’t want to be seen as having been against them. Wish-washy. Nothing new, there. It applies to both sides, too. Now, supposing a shift in how the military/police act can be brought about as the result of a better offer, of different terms, than the deal they have?

      And that’s what I’m saying. Tunisia is Tunisia, and really, why give a hoot about how things turned out there? Might as well let them have their “freedom”, though, as, after all, the immolated young man was there in that country. It sounds very familiar, to me, given my place of residence over the years. Read this…

      There is much I can say about that, and those times. But for the sake of brevity, indeed, only one child was ever killed there as the result of gang activity. It had a profound impact, not the least because that was the deal. The gangs there did what they did because they were promised it would only be temporary. Gist is, collect money and launder it to other parts of the world where dictators and thier ilk needed satisfaction and/or to supress/relieve high inflationary urges. For that terrorism and support of the system, they and the oppressed would later be rewarded with losening credit.

      I knew a family that had lived there, with the oldest son having been a memeber of one of the gangs (as well as Desert Storm veteran, of which the gangs had and continue to have a high presence in and recruitment from the U.S. military). The timing of their relocation was no random thing. And that they unknowingly moved out of one area that had vastly cooled down, and into an area heating up, was also no coincidence.

      The short and simple is that there is relief afterwords, for some. But there is not enough for everyone. Now, Tunisia had an immolation take place. People, while they’ll put up with all manner of general evil, don’t tend to overlook dramatic things like that. Egypt did not have that take place in their yard.

      Of course, this determines nothing for certain, but I have a hunch that, in time, I will be proven correct. The military, police, government… It matters not. It won’t hold, not unless there is major change in the West, which will make the now seem like a bonanza of opportunity. And because it would be so extreme, there’s really no saying that the shift will even occur. It’s all still up in the air, yes, but we musn’t forget that people here want to be re-elected, even if it means having to personally lose for their support of more dictatorship elsewhere. Their party matters more, and glaring smudges like supporting more tyranny in Egypt is nothing they can’t buff down to a duller, smaller stain.

  • mario cavolo February 3, 2011, 10:32 am

    Next Wednesday I’ll be giving a lecture and jazz piano performance in LA at the Lucy Florence Culture Center at Leimert Park. I mention it because one of the topics I will bring up is the deteriorating state of affairs for lower and middle class in the United States and its resulting trends and responses by citizens. When indeed may the situation in the U.S. and so many other countries get so bad that people start revolting more violently in the streets. We are all familiar with the “copycat” concept when it comes to criminal behavior. The person who is at the end of his rope may not violently rebel ever, but when they start seeing more and more examples of others taking to the streets they will finally do so; the kind of tipping point that Gladwell so well wrote of and we wish won’t come.

    The degree to which I see the world becoming less and less Democratic, run less and less with the interests and needs of the common citizens in mind, the forming of the two class system of haves who control the lives of the have-nots; these trends I see greater than ever; with America and China leading the way from opposite ends but toward the same societal result. Then they start throwing bones to make the have-nots feel better and fool them and sucker them even more; like saying “travel the world trading forex just like the big boys” …yea right. With the big boyz three steps ahead in multiple fronts knowing what actually IS going to happen next compared to any person with a brokerage or forex/CFD account, the odds are stacked big time. Same for an SME trying to do business, harder and harder, not easier and easier. Ass damn backwards…self-serving leadership should be hung by their thumbs in the town square and mocked…

    Cheers, Mario

    • Larry D February 3, 2011, 6:00 pm

      Seems an interesting observation for someone stationed in China to make.

      I recall some large peaceful demonstrations there in 1989, and it wasn’t the self-serving leadership that ended up being hung by their thumbs.

  • FranSix February 3, 2011, 5:18 am

    The pro-government is probably as fractious as the popular uprising. Also far less numerous.

    If you read the page on the Jasmine uprising in Tunisia, the very same script has unfolded as in Egypt. The article is well worth the read. Things in Egypt look very bad, but what happened in Tunisia preceded Egypt by a few weeks’ time.

    The next thing to watch is what the military does. I have a very, very deep concern that they will make a bad situation worse.

    The military is out of business if it quells the revolution with the use of force, but the same might actually be true for the police, who are probably forcing themselves into obsolescence with the use of violence. Its the military that probably has the thankless task of taking out the security forces that are making people’s lives miserable.

    • Benjamin February 3, 2011, 9:32 am

      “The military is out of business if it quells the revolution with the use of force, but the same might actually be true for the police, who are probably forcing themselves into obsolescence with the use of violence.”

      Going by the foreground of the picture today (an all too familiar one that I’m sure we all know), I don’t see any reason why their military would hesitate in crushing them if given the order to or, god forbid, they just get the ambition to take control of everything.

      Who would put them out of business for that? Who among the protesters can even begin to make a dent? Who in the corrupt world community would do such a thing, when the world community only wants this to quiet down ASAP?

      On a side note, I’ve long wondered why they always chuck rocks by hand, when they have shirts that can be used to make slings. Slings are fairly powerful weapons. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that modern body armor is too enduring for those kinds of attacks to work, even is en masse. Might get some bad bruises or, if a shot is lucky, some internal bleeding. So without some kind of arms, they don’t stand any chance at all.

  • Martin Snell February 3, 2011, 4:51 am

    It is a tough one. With all the repression over the years it is very hard to get a real sense of where the people are at. It would be wrong to assume everyone feels like those on the streets (and by the way, the numbers bandied around seemed wildly inflated based on the pictures I have seen. I have been in 1/2 million people marches and those were A LOT bigger than what I saw on TV).

    I went through a democratic transformation in a developing country (as an outsider). I was always struck by how the “passion on the streets” was not always matched by the average Joe that stayed home. Most people were happy enough to trade “freedom” for the “lack of chaos”. (Heck even Americans have been willing to give up a lot of freedom and a lot of money to be protected from the very small risk from”terrorists”).

    Mubarak’s gamble is that most people have no interest in revolution (it’s too messy) and will be willing to go with a slower transformation. It will be interesting and one of the key points will be the percentage of Egyptians under 25 (less to lose) that is very high. It gives revolution that much more of a chance.

    All that said I should note that from what I have seen, most developing countries would do better under a benevolent dictator than under a democracy (the key being finding a benevolent one – not too many around). Countries like Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and China have done far better than the Philippines, India, and Pakistan. At some point democracy becomes important but in a developing country economic freedom is far more important than political freedom.

    • Benjamin February 3, 2011, 7:56 am

      Let’s pretend you’re the newly crowned benevolent dictator of Egypt, Martin. Though happy days surely lie ahead for everyone because of this wise decision, they all can’t help but wonder… What will he do first to prove that he will work as advertised?

  • John Jay February 3, 2011, 4:49 am

    I can never understand why dictators like Mubarak or Marcos in the Phillipines didn’t spend some of their loot on public works, housing , playgrounds for the kids, et cetera, with lots of photo ops to look like Caesar Augustus.
    If they spent half of what they stole on PR, high visibility projects, soup kitchens, like Al Capone did in Chicago, they would have been living gods, and still been rich beyond comprehension.
    Same thing goes on here with Hedge Fund and GS/JPM plutocrats.
    Their wealth only makes them more hated.
    If it comes to a civil war in Egypt, I am sure the CIA etc. will just do something foolish and clumsy to make matters worse.
    Our government will never learn, even after Iran, Vietnam, Chile, Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.
    We have no talent at all in foreign policy.
    Only war crimes and throwing money in the wind.

    • mario cavolo February 3, 2011, 1:59 pm

      its a great point!…greedy to the point of stupid or what? And its not that difficult to put together the remnants of a fabulous PR campaign…

    • dennis February 3, 2011, 10:48 pm

      bravo JJ.
      This is the beef I have with the right wing and tea-party advocates.
      The military/intelllignece/homeland security budget is sacred, despite the fact that it is larger than that of the rest of the world’s combined, has sown the seeds of hatred, failed in achieving its aims (which were deliberately mistated to begin with), made multi-billionaires out war profiteers, caused collateral damage of almost immeasureable proportions in terms of human suffering, and its “financing” has been just another name for soverign indentured/indebted servititude , for which most of us will be squeezed to pay for. Instead the focus is on “Obamacare”, and government pension plans, neither of which I am particularly fond of, but to me seem to be nothing more than distractions. The treasury has been in effect systematically looted by the warrior/banking elite who have captured the politicians of both parties, who in turn have dutifully harnessed and chanelled the power to tax and create fiat money in order to serve those who have paid them to do exactly that. Under the cloud of this amorphous (but I admit very real) threat of national bankruptcy, ‘taxpayers’ are easily ginned-up to hate pensioners and government employees (including I assume, firemen and policemen), everybody gets ginned-up to hate the ‘underclass’ for getting a ‘free ride’, and before long half of us who are underwater in our mortgages will find it quite acceptable hate the other half who are not. Forget the fact that our relatives, friends, neighbors and even ourselves might well be will be in several of these categories at the same time, or at least at some point in our/their lives. So by all means let’s drink the the kool-aide and follow Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin right down the path of “armed and dangerous”, so when “they” come after ‘us’ , ‘ we’ will prevail.

  • Benjamin February 3, 2011, 4:30 am

    When this all began, I was of the mind that anything that would be said would be said too soon. But I didn’t figure the unity was so strong and focused as it was made out to be. What can I say? People hope. Hope has a shorter than below average life expectancy. If it had had a reason for being, this latest stage wouldn’t be occuring.

    The MB were seeming to stay out of the way, but they done said they only did that because they didn’t want to ruin the installment of a coalition government that would bring about the democratic elections (spits) that everyone was clamoring for. Which means they had plans to take greater control. That’s still a possibility, by the way. If people get angry enough, they won’t care if they support extremists. I’m sure there’s other factions with similar goals, but I can’t name any names, as beyond the MB Egyptian politics is quite foreign to me.

    But whatever else there is to support, I can guarantee that that faction hasn’t a clue as to what Liberty is all about, and how to attain it. The very fact that they were looking to the U.S. for support and guidance, and the very fact that they can’t stay focused says that they’re out in left field (and perhaps way out in the aether). I can say with almost 100% certainty that they’ll either end up supporting madmen or somehow get someone in there that will give them democracy and credit cards, in which case the West will relinquish more to another part of the world, provoking more riots in the EU and maybe U.S. that won’t amount to much except perhaps our own “civil” wars of entirely too many factions that haven’t got a clue.

    I’m not ranting, though. I’m just Jack’s complete lack of surprise, as I have, thus far, a perfectly working crystal ball.

  • Chemical February 3, 2011, 4:03 am

    Yeah, amazing how the situation turned. First the media doesn’t know how to call it. Then you get a day or two of Anderson Cooper in the crowd showing how there’s great dialogue taking place. Then today, they’re back to being Muslims.

    • Cam Fitzgerald February 4, 2011, 9:18 am

      Thank you to all who have responded to this short article.

      If no one objects, I will place my comments at the top of the page instead of at the end where they would normally be found.

      After reading all the comment I debated whether or not I would add to my own sharp commentary of Mr Mubarak and the inequities that I see taking place at this time. It would be unfair though to not express my personal fondness for the country of Egypt and its people while simultaneously offering something of an olive branch to a leader who has maintained peace in the Middle East for so many years now.

      I do want to say first that I am very optimistic over the long term about the ability of Egyptians to confront the unknown future and to heal while continuing in their leading role in Middle eastern affairs and influence. Many are concerned of course that with the departure of Mr Mubarak that fundamentalist idealism and extreme politics will arise. I disagree.

      After having lived in the Mid-East and North Africa for an extended period of time I have come to see that region not as a hotbed of extreme thinking but as a region that seeks to emulate and participate in the many benefits and opportunities that the West enjoys.

      Indeed, Egypt is an open country. The people are accepting of ideas from outside their borders and I can say without hesitation that it is at once cosmopolitan, hopeful, open minded and energetic. We need to keep the demographic in mind here too. This is a youthful country that seeks to prosper and grow, engage technology and world markets, improve its living standards, participate in the tremendous gains that have been taking place in nearby India and China while not being chained by religious orders and the madness of ideals from past centuries. I do believe that the citizens of Egypt and particularly the youth of the country now seek to break from the bonds of the past, not embrace the zeal that has taken hold in neighbouring countries.

      Some will argue that point with me. I can only say “wait and see” how the elections will turn out. We do know this; the Egypt of today is a far different country than the one we knew just a few weeks ago and the people are emboldened to stand up and stand out against all repressive forms of governance including those that may attempt to impose themselves on the country during a leadership vacuum.

      The current uprising has been one that has been building for many years now. Of Its many sources of conflict the one that stands out most is an overarching oppression of open dialogue and the freedom to publicly debate the many issues that every nation naturally confronts on a daily basis. This is anathema to any society attempting to grapple with rapid social, economic and political change as is now occurring all around the world. Egypt needs to work to remain open in order to compete and succeed on the world stage.

      Egypt (and by definition, Egyptians) need a stronger voice in the day to day affairs of their country as they respond to changing developments all around them. One man cannot be the source of all ideas nor the inspiration for the energy required to take advantage of the many opportunities that are now arising, particularly in other parts of Africa at this time.

      The country of Egypt has been damaged by the recent events. I do not believe that the hurt is a mortal blow though and it is easy to imagine that as the country searches for new leaders, new ideas and another compass that it will rebuild quickly from the angry events of the past two weeks.

      I applaud the strong stance that the US Administration and other governments have taken in the last hours to regain a semblance of civility and balance as they have encouraged Mr Mubarak to step aside and allow history to take its course. They have correctly assessed that an essential cooling off period over the next eight months before the next elections cannot proceed smoothly with Mr Mubarak at the helm. Public sentiment will not allow it. His imminent departure is therefore a foregone conclusion.

      All that really remains to be discussed in private is how that transition takes place to ensure Egypt’s critical business and banking interests are not unduly impacted and how the president himself can be assured that his families safety and their business interests can be shielded from future repercussions as a new crop of lawmakers arrive on the scene. Cooperation is now sought, not the politics of revenge.

      The past is the past and in order to see success in the future we must sometimes overlook the failures of the previous administrations before moving on. Nelson Mandela taught us this lesson well as his government orchestrated a South African revival and an economic renaissance that did not focus on revenge and hatred but rather on a forward looking process that included forgiveness of many of the sins of the past. How else do you move on without becoming an oppressor yourself?

      The people of Egypt have spoken clearly and it is no longer possible to turn back the clock as they work towards their own chosen (and unknown) destiny. Reform is essential at this juncture and it is being imposed on all the observers of this crisis exactly as it is being imposed on the population in revolt against what they view widely as unfairness in their day to day affairs. Voices are finally being heard that were silent for decades. We need to listen more carefully and not prejudge outcomes that have not materialized and that are only estimates and fictions in our own minds. The future is not written yet.

      Is the Chinese model superior in this regard? What lacks in Egypt insofar as equity in business and opportunity for the millions of its citizens, seems to bloom unimpeded in most of Asia. China in particular has shown that when resources and opportunity are shared and the entrepreneurialism of its people in concert with progressive public policy is allowed to flourish, that these approaches can have a long lasting and positive effect. China is no democracy. Its policies are nonetheless nurturing to the business community and the wide participation of the population in their miracle has made their economy the envy of the world.

      There is a firm hand on the tiller over there but it is not one that seeks to deprive honest effort while accumulating all the gains just for a handful of those in the party of command. This I believe is central to the discord in Egypt at this time. The outlet for business to flourish has been co-opted by just a few individuals at the helm of a government that is not transparent in its dealings with its citizens nor fair in offering concessions to those who seek better economic opportunities.

      Mr Mubarak’s departure may be the end of an era but we cannot be fearful of the choices that Egyptians now make. If free elections are to be held it is certain that some of the more extreme ideas of the opposition will become muted. The people there are not, after all, seeking a more repressive regime than the one they are throwing over. To win in a democratic process, parties must offer the best basket of ideas if they expect to win the hearts and minds of the people. A much more emboldened people I might add.

      The benefit of Mubarak’s departure at this time is that it will allow the government to begin to introduce the changes that are being demanded without his influence at the lead and to establish a reputation for itself as part of the process of healing and not as an outside force, nor one that remains in opposition to popular consent.

      It will be important that the natural right of women to vote be established quickly, that constitutional amendments are made regarding the influence and control of the military, that free speech be enshrined, that monopolies be broken up to allow entrepreneurs entry into key markets, that emergency rule be discarded and most importantly that rights of citizens are protected from future intruders who might attempt to impose extremist ideas against the broad will of the population.

      In the last hours, the hand of the US and other Western allies of Egypt has been forced by the refusal of Mr Mubarak to step down in the face of overwhelming public opposition to his three decades long rule. I believe that his departure will be announced in short order. That will be a turning point and that is when the real work will begin. The country will need to heal from the wounds of this revolution but as life returns to normal again, banks reopen and tourism once again flourishes, the solutions to past conflicts will be found by all parties in this evolving process. Hard work of course but well worth the troubles. I wish them all the best as the political process evolves.

      Introducing true electoral processes and reforms on a country that has never really known them honestly will not be easy though. It will be incumbent on both the government in power and on the opposition parties who now seek the publics votes and support to begin formulating the policies together that will lead this country to a better outcome than might have been imagined just a few short days ago.

      The Egypt that I have known was civil, honourable and proud country. As the nation seeks to address past inequity we may not like all that we hear and see. The debates will be loud and raucous, rife with recrimination and blame as the contenders attempt debate and sort out the messy process of cooperation and multi-party politics. Everything in other words that we would expect in any other democratic country. We should not expect more of them than we expect of ourselves. Are we not bellicose and obnoxious too in our houses of parliament?

      As a new period of change arises we can acknowledge that it is at times like these that much imperfection will be seen. Out of the chorus of discordant voices though I believe will arise a stronger more focussed country and one that will retain its respected place on the world stage.

      We all have deep concerns for the future but now is a time to stand aside and offer encouragement and advice only when invited and asked while avoiding the divisive politics and policies of the past. Everyone now has a stake in the success of Egypt and her people as the country moves towards a more open and democratic process.

      This is a time to express confidence in the people of Egypt. I have complete faith in the choices they will now make as the future unfolds.

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