Through an Egyptian Lens:
The Egyptian government has been relying on fear to rule its people with an iron fist.
The fear has now been lifted.
I spent 13 years of my life in Egypt and I understand this fear – a nagging worry that one might be detained indefinitely with no court date or legal representation. Almost every Egyptian is aware of such horror stories, people jailed due to “civil-disobedience” or other politically-driven charges. Even with this backdrop, Egyptians are standing up to make their voices heard.
The fear has now been lifted.
Some people claim that the Egyptian protest, named by protesters as the “Day of Anger,” is due to poverty or lack of economic opportunity, but I believe this is incorrect. This protest is a reaction to the lack of dignity prevalent throughout Egypt, where people are not able to live as human beings. It is due to the feeling of having no rights and of being a slave to the state. These protests took place because the people of Egypt saw this protest as a glimmer of light and hope at the end of what they felt had been a very long dark tunnel.
Though few will disagree with the idea that Egypt's authoritarian regime for the past 30 years has been a great disservice to Egypt (except apparently Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden), the worry now is that these five or six days of “anger” will pass without any real change. There might be a “personnel change” at the top, but the system itself may stay in place. Even if the Egyptian people are able to change the constitution, the same unaccountable style of governance will be in place.
If we know anything about change, we know that it doesn't happen overnight. Transitioning into a real democratic political system isn't easy and will take time. Most Egyptians, in the euphoria of anger, will be more disappointed when the regime changes but the system remains!
That being said, let's talk realistically about the next government, if that were to happen, who would lead it? Would the elections – assuming they took place – really be fair? Do we have the “training” to accept and have free and fair elections after years and years of fraudulent and corrupted ones? Read the news about the last election in Egypt.
I guess only time will tell.
Through an American Lens:
In a shocking press release issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she astonished the world with these words, “our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”
The astonishment continued to mount as the Vice President of the free world, Joe Biden, said, “Look, Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things,” Biden told PBS' Newshour, “and he's been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region: Middle East peace efforts, the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel. I would not refer to him as a dictator.”
For your information, Mr. Biden, Mubarak has been ruling Egypt since 2 years before I was born and I am 28!
It is also noteworthy to mention that Facebook, Twitter, and Blackberry services have been interrupted in Egypt due to this protest. Add to that, the fact that some newscasts have also been blocked (AlJazeera watch at 1:05).
The stability of Egypt, of course, is very important to the United States. Think about it like this, Egypt is to the Middle East what America is to the rest of the world; everybody looks up to her and what she does. This applies to politics, art, education, and especially entertainment. This gives Egypt very good leverage. If Egypt is not stable, the whole region may become destabilized and this is alarming to other tyrannical governments in the region.
Such a rapid shift of power in more than one country based on the voices of the people is also alarming to Israel. The Wall Street Journal reported, “Though ties are far from warm, Israel's three-decade peace with Egypt is a key pillar of its military posture in the region.”
CNN published an article describing Israel as, “watching quietly,” reporting that an Israeli Knesset member Benjamin Ben-Eliezer was quoted saying, “There is no leading figure that can lead the wave of protests till the regime falls,” he said. “This is not a regime of one person, but it is backed by the army, the intelligence agencies and the secret service.”
It is indeed a struggle, that will require a level of success from the Egyptian people to manifest this progress in reforming the Egyptian political institutions. If this will becomes a reality, and the government is overthrown, the Egyptian people must be able to transition to a new system that is compatible with a free and democratic lifestyle. Otherwise, the result will be the same old system with a different regime.
This is indeed an astonishing civic moment in the world, and I hope it passes successfully and with the least amount of bloodshed.