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From hereditary rule to chaos - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Arab region is witnessing difficult days, and the political aftershocks in Egypt are being closely and intensively followed, with everybody anticipating the outcome of this situation.

The Egyptians were anxious and angry with regards to the direction that their country was heading towards with regards to its future policies. According to a segment of Egypt’s society, these policies included the intention for President Mubarak’s son Gamal to succeed him in power. This was seen as the rationale behind the ‘manipulation’ of the recent parliamentary election results, which occurred in a highly provocative manner, and which saw the disappearance of all opposition MPs [from parliament]. There is a clear and well-known opposition in Egypt, and therefore it was not convincing for it to be removed in this manner.

There are many angry voices in Egypt…voices calling for freedom and justice, calling for poverty, unemployment and corruption to be addressed, and for genuine political reform to take place. Days of tactical confrontations between the regime and the angry protestors occurred; with one round being called in favor of the masses and their anti-Mubarak signs, and then another being called for the regime as momentum returned to their ranks, with the two sides trading advantage whilst the world looks on. Finally, President Mubarak issued his second speech during this crisis, conceding what the protestors demanded. He vowed not to stand for re-election and to carry out constitutional amendments modifying some controversial constitutional articles, this would paving the way for those who wish to stand in the presidential elections, without the current restrictions that currently render this impossible.

With this tactical move, President Mubarak was able to drive a wedge within the masses who were angry and had rejected him. After this speech, a series of new demonstrations appeared, in support of Mubarak. The President did well to broadcast his speech via different Egyptian media outlets, both public and private, in a notably dramatic and passionate fashion. Thus the political scene was transformed from a purely political protest, to an issue with far greater emotional and human elements.

The most serious problem today is Egypt’s paralysis, which has begun to have an impact both psychologically and physically, on the situation in the region in general. Here, the symptoms of the Tunisian-Egyptian political influenza have infected Jordan, where the King was forced to dismiss the government. It has also infected Yemen, where the president declared he would not run again in the next election, or bequeath power to his son. Both cases are pre-emptive measures to prevent potential problems that might occur.

Talk in Egypt today has moved from that of hereditary rule to the chaos in the country. The country is in trouble today and there is a critical situation on the street between those seeking to overthrow the regime, and those who sympathize with the President. There is a difference between insulting the president and attempting to humiliate him by forcing him to leave in an unjust and negative manner, and achieving the political demands which Mubarak has responded to.

Hosni Mubarak has made a lot of mistakes, but it is also important to remember his accomplishments. When he took over the country, there was no infrastructure, factories were unused, the economy was run-down and relations with the Arab world were non-existent. Mubarak’s regime committed mistakes in many areas, and it is true that he has not excelled at interpreting the mood of the masses, but it is an exaggeration to portray him as a tyrant, oppressor, or dictator. This is particularly the case when he is being portrayed in this manner by advocates of the Nasserite movement, who hold up images of Nasser during the demonstrations, for Nasser was a man who established the authority of the intelligence services and detention centers, and who infamously won his first election with 99 percent of the vote. Nasser introduced military rule, and lost Arab lands during his notorious 1967 defeat to Israel. Despite all these disastrous mistakes, the Egyptians forgave him!

Hosni Mubarak has accomplished double what Abdul Nasser and his cronies achieved, and so Egypt today requires a moment of clarity before a peaceful and civilized transfer of power. The consolidation of democracy would be an apt gift and farewell from a man who served his country and restored its democratic principles, its freedoms, and an effective parliament, which were confiscated by the 1952 coup.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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