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The most important lesson - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Hosni Mubarak era will be evaluated according to the figures present in it and who were “central” in influencing the country’s decisions and policies. Today, in the final stages of his rule, the Hosni Mubarak era will be judged negatively thanks to the presence of figures like [former Interior Minister] Habib al-Adly, [former Housing Minister] Ahmed al-Maghrabi, [former National Democratic Party member] Ahmed Ezz, and [former Egyptian Tourism Minister] Zuhair Garana, controlling and oppressing the scene. These figures overpowered sincere and honest figures like [newly appointed Egyptian PM] Ahmed Shafiq, [newly appointed Egyptian VP] Omar Suleiman, and [former Trade Minister] Rashid Mohamed Rashid.

Corruption breeds despotism, and despotism results in injustice. The [political] parties put forward by the Arab regimes to “sell” democracy – as a political commodity – to the people have become forces for oppression and repression, resulting in immeasurable public discontent and anger. This can best be seen by the Arab Social Union during Egypt’s Nasserite era, as well as the response to the Baathist party in Iraq, and the Constitutional Democratic Rally in Tunisia, as well as the ruling parties in Yemen and Sudan, not to mention, of course, the National Democratic Party in Egypt.

War became a means to strengthen rule rather than to participate in it…and these parties worked to weaken their political opposition rather than opening the arena for genuine political participation in the general public interests. The National Democratic Party in Egypt went astray following the battle between its old guard and the new guard. This gave rise to [political] cronyism and strengthened political thuggery, as well as resulted in the marriage of political interests and financial ambition.

Corruption is the people’s greatest enemy and the corrupting and the corrupted are not the greatest danger, but rather the presence of a culture that enables corruption. This sees ministers passing and facilitating projects for one party or another…and as a result this state of corruption gives rise to despotism, and this is something that occurs quietly without anybody commenting on this, regardless of the danger that it represents.

The recent barbaric attacks against the demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo by protestors described as being pro-Mubarak supporters, riding on camels and donkeys and wielding knives and swords in a scene reminiscent of [Egyptian] film “Viva Zalata” is a realistic portrayal of the current situation in the country. For at the same time that political reform has been announced in a clear manner by Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, an army of thugs backed by the leadership of the National Democratic Party and some private businessman – as has been repeated by the media – attacked these demonstrators. This indicates a clear split between the politicians and the thugs, between the sincere patriots and the opportunists. Gradually, the roles held by honorable patriotic figures in Mubarak’s regime have decreased, and figures such as [former Interior Minister] Ahmed Rushdi, [former prime minister] Kamal Ganzouri, [Egyptian diplomat] Osama El-Baz, [Egyptian parliamentary foreign affairs committee chairman] Mustafa al-Faki, [Arab League Secretary-General] Amr Musa, and [Egyptian ambassador] Nabil Fahmy, and others have been replaced by publicly hated figures. This has reached the point that the past few years have seen been full of the public cries objecting to these figures in a manner that nobody can deny.

Corruption remains the greatest pitfall to the dreams and aspirations of a people and the best intentions of good men, and what happened in Egypt will be evaluated in depth until we learn the lesson from this. However we are still betting that Egypt will emerge from this crisis stronger than before, in the same manner that it has in the past.

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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