Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

“Pirates of the Caribbean” in Egypt | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Three men arrested off the coast of Alexandria accused of trying to cut an undersea cable that provides Egypt with internet access. (Egyptian Navy)

According to a current reading of events, a storm is approaching some of the Arab world; other countries are in the eye of that storm. A few countries have been completely immune to recent events.

Attempting to interpret the state of tension and pressure on the Arab scene, some people have claimed that the media is responsible for this torrent by inciting and lying to the people and promoting a false view of what is really going on. We all recall the criticism of the media from the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, comparing Egypt’s journalists to the “Pharaoh’s magicians.”

In particular, online activists and bloggers are being accused of spreading rumors, turning people against each other, and promoting fear. This view is being increasingly repeated these days in Egypt—not just by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, but by all those who are fed up with this state of chaos. The people do not care who supports or opposes the Brotherhood as much as they care about national stability and earning a living.

What is strange is that those who previously benefitted from an atmosphere of openness in promoting political propaganda against the Mubarak regime, particularly via social media like Facebook and Twitter, are today attempting to wield the same restrictions that were first used by the former regime.

In any case, it seems that the dejection and despondency at the atmosphere of chaos in Egypt has reached the masses. This prompted a group to “cut the artery and drain the blood,” to use a popular Egyptian figure of speech that suggests taking a decisive position on an issue. Recently, three men took the decision to cut the ‘artery’ that is pumping this chaos and instability into Egypt: the undersea cable that provides Egypt with Internet access, which runs under the Mediterranean Sea.

Earlier this week, Egyptian authorities announced that they had arrested three divers attempting to cut the cable off the coast of Alexandria. The three men were on board a small vessel when they were spotted by the coast guard. Despite attempting to flee, they were eventually caught and arrested. The Egyptian navy subsequently published an image of the the arrestees with their hands tied behind their backs. When looking at this image, I could not help but be stuck by their innate Egyptianness and impulsiveness, and their faces did not bear any sign of criminality.

We do not know whether these three men took this particular course of action on their own initiative, or whether they had been hired by a third party. Although the Egyptian political scene is rife with intrigue and plots, there is not necessarily any conspiracy at play here. What is certain is that these three divers tried to solve a problem at its root—in this case, under the sea—in what can only be described as an Egyptian version of the Pirates of the Caribbean. To their great misfortune, the three divers were caught by the Egyptian military, which tries to combat chaos not just on the land but at sea as well.

We cannot blame anybody for trying anything to help Egypt extricate itself from this crisis—even if this solution includes an undersea escapade. Despair makes people do the strangest things.