I was in the gym when I received a text saying ‘The khanzeer has gone’ (khanzeer is an Arabic word meaning pig)- I knew exactly what it meant. Hosni Mubarak had gone. Having followed what was transpiring in Egypt over the past two and a half weeks-somewhat devoutly-I couldn’t help but rejoice, I hadn’t felt so happy for a long time. It was the end of a dictator who had caused misery upon his people for 30 years. But also the start of something amazing.
Among the Arab League’s 22 countries, only three can call themselves democracies, all three, however, are flawed. Iraq, with a democracy enforced by America, is troubled with suicide bombings, extremism as well as sectarianism and is in an utter mess. The Palestinian territories, lacks sovereignty and is under military occupation. And, Lebanon, a country marred with sectarian conflict. The other Arab countries, vary between the most extreme dictatorships-Algeria, Libya & Syria (a country where the government is unlikely to be toppled), to the more kind and caring autocracies like Qatar, and then there’s the more oligarchic ones which are in between- like Morocco- which is run by a monarchy.
What makes the revolution in Egypt so important, is the wider, rippling effect it can cause throughout the Arab world- which is plagued with despotism. It was the Egyptian revolution in 1952 which saw the military become an extremely powerful force which backed the authoritarian Gamal Abdel Nasser, and was, of course, the same military Hosni Mubarak emerged from. This, in turn, inspired similar army backed regimes to ensue, from Algeria, to Iraq to Yemen. Egypt, being arguably one of the most powerful Arab countries, could be a catalyst in the toppling of the other regimes. Algeria’s people have too begun to protest despite the brutality of the police force, and there have been protests in Yemen, Jordan, Libya and Sudan. Reverberations of the toppling of Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Mubarak have already begun to be felt as- Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh has promised not to seek re-election, and Jordan’s king Abdullah has sacked his government.
The most intriguing prospect of the whole situation, is that the effects of the potential collapse of despotism into democracy in the Arab world could-or will-affect the rest of the world. If Egypt becomes a democratic country, run by a coalition of party’s including the Muslim Brotherhood, this could change the dynamic of the Middle East. Israel, who have enjoyed the support of Egypt for over 30 years- even from former Egyptian President Anwar Saddat– who signed the peace treaty with them in 1979, would become vulnerable to being attacked by the Arab countries which surround them. This, of course, would be America’s worst nightmare. And this is why America also have it in their interest to help facilitate-not democratic elections-but elections which will, ultimately, end up with a leader similar to Hosni Mubarak. Indeed, with Syria and Iran being ever hostile to Israel, the last thing America would want is Israel’s strongest ally (Egypt) also becoming an enemy-and maybe, even, becoming an ally to Palestine’s resistance party Hamas instead.
However, although the army in Egypt have promised free and democratic elections in the near future, the army generals who now run the country, are part of the same clan which supported Mubarak throughout his dictatorship. If the army were to assume power permanently, there would be no change in Egypt, and maybe, who knows-Mubarak would be still be able to run things from behind the scenes. The future of Egypt, although seemingly bright, is not yet perfect-and wont be until free elections are held.
In the 1970s, the authoritarian regimes in southern Europe collapsed, this was followed later by Latin America where juntas fell rapidly, and it now seems the Arab countries are to follow in a similar manner. You might think I may be getting a bit ahead of myself- but hope is necessary for human society. It was this hope, though, which caused an end of the Pharaoism of Hosni Mubarak.