Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Mubarak, May your reign by remembered fondly | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

I’m aware that this title will be provocative to millions of people in Egypt and across the Arab world who, last Friday, cheered the victory that was achieved against political tyranny and corruption by the will of the people. However there is a major concern over this unprecedented experience and that is of it being snuffed out in its infancy. If this were to happen, this would indicate the inevitable failure of other similar experiences in other Arab countries that, like Egypt, suffer from political tyranny and administrative and financial corruption. If post-Mubarak Egypt, God forbid, were to slide into chaos, or witness a period in which the military rules the country with an iron fist, or experience economic decline and even greater poverty and unemployment, then the Egypt people will say “Mubarak, we remember your reign fondly” or as an [Arab] poet once wrote:

Oh God, one day I was given cause to cry, however,

When it happened to somebody else, I cried for them.

If this were to happen, every tyrant would repeat the same expression used by Hosni Mubarak, namely “it’s either me or chaos.” This is the same expression that was used by former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This is something that goes back to ancient times, and Pharaoh even tried this tactic with Moses. “And Pharaoh said: Suffer me to kill Moses, and let him cry unto his Lord. Lo! I fear that he will alter your religion or that he will cause confusion in the land.” [Surat Al-Ghafir, Verse 26].

The Arab people are tired of being intimidated by models of failed change which include Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan, in fact these three countries are being used as scarecrows to frighten any who call for change or fight corruption, raising the possibility that the situation after change could be even worse than before. To be fair, those who fear this are justified, and the majority of the people in the countries named above long for the previous era, i.e. the era of Saddam in Iraq, Siad Barre in Somalia, and the Soviet era in Afghanistan. Indeed, many in these countries long for the security and stability that existed under the former regimes despite their harsh and dictatorial nature and the rampant corruption that also existed, particularly when you compare this to the high state of tension that currently exists in these countries. This is why we are seeking to abolish this negative image [of change] and we hope that the Tunisian and Egyptian experiences could follow a more positive path. However just because we are hopeful that the two revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia are successful, this does not mean that we want to see the outbreak of demonstrations, bloodshed, and the destruction of public property, in other Arab states. This is because revolutions such as this are not the only solution for certain Arab countries to rid themselves of political despotism and corruption. Rather, certain Arab countries that share similar circumstances with Egypt and Tunisia must be aware that what happened in these two countries spreading to others is not “nonsense” as former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit previously described this [prior to the revolution in Egypt].

Certain Arab countries must take the initiative [to rectify their internal state of affairs] before they reach a stage where offering change and reform would be too little and too late, as was the case with former President Mubarak and former President Ben Ali. Imagine what would have happened if prior to 25 January 2011, then President Hosni Mubarak had announced that he was dissolving the Egyptian cabinet and appointing Omar Suleiman as his vice president, as well as calling for new parliamentary elections to take place, implementing constitutional amendments, dissolving the Emergency Law, and releasing all political detainees. If he did this, Mubarak could have protected his country from sliding into chaos and spent the remainder of his presidential term content and certain that he would be safe in his own country after his term in office came to an end. However he and his advisories believed that the revolution spreading to Egypt was “nonsense” and as a result of this, he, along with the security forces, have been swept away in a flood of popular fervour, and now the only option is death.