I salute to Egyptians for their glorious victory. They successfully overthrew President Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic government in a mostly non-violent struggle. Egyptians have surmounted the biggest obstacle in their road to get democratic freedom. Though the path is still laden with difficulties, and they have to continue the struggle, there is hope of seeing the sunlight after 30 years of darkness.
In this post, I am covering three articles that captured the problems of Egypt and the success of their revolution. The first post from Taskforce “From Egypt to Afghanistan: U.S. Self-Interest and the Unfortunate By-Product of Corruption” describes how US double speak and foreign policy has influenced the world negatively. US to maintain its super power status has for its own self-interest supported autocratic regimes in various countries, knowing that they were corrupt and subjugating human rights of their population. Instead of doing the right thing, US governments through years ignored the atrocities of their supported leaders. The cost of maintaining super power status of US was borne by populations of the autocratic regimes supported by US government.
The second post is from African Great Lakes News Repository “How Hosni Mubarak Got So Rich” discusses the corruption in Mubarak’s rule. President Mubarak has estimated net-worth is USD 5 billion and some reports state that the family assets are around USD 50-70 billion. He accumulated his wealth through collecting bribes and ensuring his family got a share of income through forced partnerships. A man who 30 years ago started his rule stating that he will fight corruption and ensure democratic governance became a figure known for worst autocratic rules in history. Egyptian suffered because of income disparity, poverty, lack of jobs and opportunities. Mubarak and his cronies enjoyed a privileged life at the expense of Egyptian people without remorse. The negative outcomes of one man’s insatiable desire for power and money, and corrupt government were borne by a whole population for 30 years.
The third post “Everywhere Tahrir” from zunguzungu captures the elation and joy across the Arab world on the victory of Egyptians. They are now the torchbearers for democratic freedom in the Arab world. The world dynamics is changing and we are seeing history unfold itself. Here is hope for betterment of human race. May more people across the world get equality, justice and freedom to live.
Click on the headings to read the full articles. Check out the boingboing blog article “Egypt- Dance, Dance Revolution” to see more photos.
1. From Egypt to Afghanistan: U.S. Self-Interest and the Unfortunate By-Product of Corruption (via Taskforce – Financial Integrity & Economic Development)
I’m thinking specifically of several recent events, but let me start with a little history. In 1947, Greece and Turkey faced military and political pressure from the Soviet Union, and in response President Truman vowed the United States would support these countries to resist “attempted subjugation” by outside pressures. Called the Truman Doctrine, this strategy later came to wield enormous influence on U.S. foreign policy as the American government sought to contain the “domino effect” of communism. Frightened that if one country succumbed to communism the surrounding countries would as well, the U.S. chose to intervene in a variety of internal conflicts worldwide to overthrow leaders perceived as pro-Soviet or to support leaders who might otherwise be vulnerable to communist uprisings.
As a result of this policy, a line of U.S. presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, empowered a variety of pro-America leaders and overthrew progressive, pro-Soviet governments across South America, Asia and the Middle East. Under President Eisenhower, a CIA-organized coup overthrew Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected president of Guatemala, who was suggested to have some influence under the Soviet Union. President Lyndon Johnson deployed 23,000 troops to the Dominican Republic to intervene in their civil war. President Ronald Reagan waged covert warfare in Nicaragua. Many American-installed leaders later turned into corrupt despots who ruled their nations with brutality.
Today the relationship isn’t as distinct. Without a clear existential threat, America has fewer obvious reasons to empower corruption. But, while it is not as obvious, the dynamic still remains.
Take Egypt and Tunisia. The U.S. has a very good relationship with Hosni Mubarak, the current president in Egypt, and has maintained a close relationship with Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the now-former president of Tunisia, consistent with a long diplomatic history with both countries. The United States has maintained official representation in Tunis almost continuously since 1795 and signed the American Friendship Treaty with Tunisia in 1799. Mubarak is also a close ally of the United States, and has long offered the United States military access to the region in a crisis, including overflight rights and Egyptian troops, who sometimes participate in international coalitions.
There are no Mubaraks on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, but there sure ought to be.
The mounting pressure from 18 days of historic protests finally drove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office, after three decades as his nation’s iron-fisted ruler. But over that time, Mubarak amassed a fortune that should finance a pretty comfortable retirement. The British Guardian newspaper cites Middle Eastern sources placing the wealth of Mubarak and his family at somewhere between $40 billion and $70 billion. That’s a pretty good pension for government work. The world’s richest man–Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim–is worth about $54 billion, by comparison. Bill Gates is close behind, with a net worth of about $53 billion.
Mubarak, of course, was a military man, not a businessman. But running a country with a suspended constitution for 30 years generates certain perks, and Mubarak was in a position to take a slice of virtually every significant business deal in the country, from development projects throughout the Nile basin to transit projects on the Suez Canal, which is a conduit for about 4 percent of the world’s oil shipments. “There was no accountability, no need for transparency,” says Prof. Amaney Jamal of Princeton University. “He was able to reach into the economic sphere and benefit from monopolies, bribery fees, red-tape fees, and nepotism. It was guaranteed profit.”
Had the typical Egyptian enjoyed a morsel of that, Mubarak might still be in power. But Egypt, despite a cadre of well-educated young people, has struggled as an economic backwater. The nation’s GDP per capita is just $6,200, according to the CIA–one-seventh what it is in the United States. That output ranks 136th in the world, even though Egypt ranks 16th in population. Mubarak had been working on a set of economic reforms, but they stalled during the global recession. The chronic lack of jobs and upward mobility was perhaps the biggest factor driving millions of enraged Egyptian youths into the streets, demanding change.
“The Winter Uprisings in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Yemen have shaken western and Arab confidence in the sustainability of the current models of “competitive” authoritarianism. These were not bread riots; they were illustrations of political gangrene…in the end the Winter Uprisings are political, not merely economic. They cannot be reduced to economic “reforms,” pice checks and micro-finance. They are putting strains on the Arab political order in its full diversity. And the youth driving the Winter Uprisings appear not to be satisfied when thrown a bone — they deserve steak. In the span of two months they have seen two long-sitting autocrats make shaken and desperate public appeals in response to their actions and watched one of them make a run for the Gulf. Whether Tunisia or Egypt or some other Arab polity turns out a revolution or a serious political change, these uprisings will be serious political and historical importance going forward. These are exciting, perplexing times indeed.” (TMND)
There have been quite a few persuasive calls (particularly from historians) to resist the urge to see this as one thing, a single “Winter Uprising” as Kal put it above. Manan, for instance, and Gretchen Head. And I agree. But no one would deny that people in Egypt were watching what happened in Tunisia and interpreting it in their own ways, and the rest of the world is sure as hell watching what happened in Egypt. And while this is not exactly Nasser 2.0, the idea of an Egyptian led Pan-Arabism is certainly on the minds of at least some (and in the nightmares of others). As Lamis Andoni writes:
The Egyptian revolution, itself influenced by the Tunisian uprising, has resurrected a new sense of pan-Arabism based on the struggle for social justice and freedom. The overwhelming support for the Egyptian revolutionaries across the Arab world reflects a sense of unity in the rejection of tyrannical, or at least authoritarian, leaders, corruption and the rule of a small financial and political elite.
Arab protests in solidarity with the Egyptian people also suggest that there is a strong yearning for the revival of Egypt as a pan-Arab unifier and leader. Photographs of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president, have been raised in Cairo and across Arab capitals by people who were not even alive when Nasser died in 1970. The scenes are reminiscent of those that swept Arab streets in the 1950s and 1960s
I hope Egyptian revolution shows a path to suffering people across the world that united they can achieve wonders. They need to take action, actively fight for their rights and not let their human spirit be diminished. They have faced atrocities at the hands of people in power, the powerful won’t change, hence the lessor privileged have to bring about the change.