Egypt’s Unfinished Business and a Lesson For the Arab Revolution
It has become apparent that all of our most cynical readings of the situation in Egypt, since the supposed ouster of Hosni Mubarak, are being proved true by the continued oppression, and disenfranchisement, of the Egyptian people at the hands of the Military government. The aggressive midnight assault by police and military forces, to clear peaceful protesters from Tahrir Square, was an all too familiar reminder of the regime’s brutal tactics before Mubarak assigned them to their new post as governmental figureheads.
Mubarak’s April 9, 2011, address on State media, arguing that charges of corruption against him are completely false, demonstrates the access, influence, and control he maintains over the country’s establishment and power infrastructure. How else is a supposedly disposed dictator able to give the equivalent of a Presidential statement if there is any truth to the charade of his removal from power?
His financial wealth and political capital have allowed him to maintain his status of power-broker. His title was removed but his true sources of power were left untouched. Through a false transition of control which he and his regime orchestrated in order to placate revolutionaries, distract international attention, and reassert their control, Mubarak has been able to govern and strategize from the comfort of his Sharm El Sheikh palace. He doesn’t need the official title in order to be the de facto ruler of the country. He has loyal, and well paid, military officials to perform the role of figurehead.
General prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud has said that he will question Hosni Mubarak, as well as Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa, in connection with embezzlement charges and the killing of protesters. Mr. Mahmoud insists that Mubarak’s claims of innocence, and threats of legal action against any who accuse him, will not effect the investigation. It is much more likely that the fact that Mr. Mahmoud was a member of Mubarak’s regime, and was directly appointed to his post by Mubarak, will prove to be the reason that the investigation will be just another act in this drama. Mubarak may as well be put in charge of the investigation of himself and his sons.
The people of Egypt were fooled. Mubarak is not gone; and democracy, economic justice, empowerment, and equal rights are still a long way off. The trials of Tahrir Square were just a foreshadowing of what must come. The regime, along with its international corporate interests, partnerships, and beneficiaries, as well as the politicians and heads of state that profit from facilitating their dealings, will not give up without a much bigger struggle than we’ve seen thus far.
In the words of Frederick Douglas:
“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle…. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will…”
The biggest lesson that needs to be learned from Egypt is not to trust a dictator. The people of every Arab state, that is currently experiencing the rise of democratic revolutions, are getting the same mix of brutal repression and false promises of reform. When the brutality doesn’t work they try and trick the revolutionaries with false promises. Unfortunately, in the case of Egypt, that trick has been successful thus far. A revolutionary movement brought about revolutionary action, but it was stopped before it could achieve a revolution. The status quo is simply going through some re-branding.
Qaddafi is set to meet with revolutionary leaders on Monday, April 11, 2011, to attempt his version of what Mubarak pulled off. He wants to discuss a compromise and a ceasefire. If allowed, he will remain just as much a threat and imminent danger as Mubarak is to the people of Egypt. Forty years of entrenched power is not something that either man is willing to give up, and the cowards that support them will continue to do so for the scraps they get from the table. They have killed many to gain it and maintain it. They will not hesitate to kill many more to continue it.
The only chance is to completely remove them, and all other dictatorial regimes, and purge their governments of their accomplices and allies. The United Nations must be brought into service as overseer, or facilitator, of a transition to a responsible civilian government, and to ensure the lawful, effective, and thorough prosecution of all those in any leadership positions within these regimes. All bank accounts and properties belonging to such members of these regimes must be confiscated and/or frozen until an impartial investigation, and audit, can be performed in order to return any stolen assets to the people. National resources and industries privatized by the regime, particularly those privatized to the regime, must be repatriated, and any future contracts renegotiated and approved by a new democratically elected civilian government. There can be no half measures. They must be completely removed from power and their sources of power must be completely removed from their control.
These dictators and their regimes have proven their inability to be any part of reform and have made it clear that they are intent on using any means at their disposal to maintain their tyrannical control, and exploitation, of the people and their resources. Revolutionaries must learn from this. They must learn that their only chance is to pursue their goal of emancipation with an equally uncompromising certainty and an unwavering commitment to a complete eradication of these regimes. There is no middle ground. Not only must these dictators be completely removed from power and prosecuted for their crimes, but also, the entire financial and political power structures they have built must be completely dismantled and returned to the people from whom they were stolen.