Why is the now-termed revolution in Egypt significant – significant perhaps more than what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan? And what does this mean to all of us?
Here are some sketchy notes based on my minimalistic understanding of the current situation and of the history.
- Egypt was where it all began. The Human civilization. If you look at the timeline of human civilization, you will see what Egypt had contributed to human civilization was significant. Even though the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations could be dated back to almost the same timeline, most historians give credit to Egyptians for the first established social set up that brought the word ‘civil’ to mankind.
- So I see the current situation to be highly significant in the modern era. A revolution that has been triggered mainly by internet and certain other elements of modern modes of communication. Yes. In many ways, the incident in Tunisia and the aftermath there could have provided some spark for the youth of Egypt. But this would have happened even without Tunisia – if not now, may be a few months later.
- Egypt is a larger country compared to Tunisia – Almost 7 times larger in terms of size and population. Also Egypt is geographically diverse. Culturally, the country may not be as diverse as India, but still diverse enough to make the demographics complicated. For example, while the whole of Cairo seems like it is in the middle of a battle zone, Sharm-El-Sheikh continues to provide the much sought after tropical tranquility to all its western tourists. So a country of that kind of diversity needs to have some common burning reasons – really burning ones that affect all people, to even push them to streets. Leave alone, to be persistent with the protesting mood.
- Egypt has been the only neighbor of Israel in the last 2-3 decades that has remained conflict free with Israel. Now that factor by itself, is significant in terms of the volatility & stability of the region.
- Because America has pretty much poked its nose in every corner of the world in the last 100 years or so, you can’t help but drag America into every issue that arises. And almost in every instance, you will find out that the problem that America is trying to resolve is actually a problem that either America caused in the first place when you trace its origins or America had an indirect role to play in the root cause of the problem somehow. This is a proven fact and it is also recorded in history.
- By the same token, unfortunately much to the unpleasantness of the current administration, they cannot stay away from this Egypt issue even though none of the current administration’s policy makers had anything to do with drafting a policy in the past which made them hold hands with Mubarak for a long time, although at a cost.
- So, no matter what President Obama does, it will not satisfy all people. Under the circumstances and given the history of US-Egpy relationship and also given the volatility of the region with Egypt a major player in keeping border passions under control, I think, the administration has taken cautious steps in the right direction so far. Fortunately, even though the protesters may claim that Obama didn’t act soon enough, I feel there was no damage done if you look at the broader picture as the main objective of the protest has been achieved. Now the issue is really around WHEN. Mubarak has been brought to his knees (well figuratively) and he has openly confessed to some of his misgivings in public. But it was still much less than what the passionate protesters want (who sometimes tend to be blinded by passion over pragmatism).
- If Obama decides to satisfy the protesters immediately and acts with nothing else is in his agenda – Assume for a moment he forces Mubarak to step down today. Has anyone thought of what could happen to a diverse country like Egypt? The country will see massive clashes – And many lives will be lost. There will be chaos all over. Bringing order and conducting proper polls will become an impossible task then. It could mark the beginning of the end of a country that holds significance in the region for many reasons.
- Having said that, there is really no choice for Mubarak but to go. Right now. Not wait till September. With the way things have turned out yesterday and today, now there is some sense of urgency that has to creep in. Because the security forces are beginning to carry out Mubarak blessed oppression in civilian clothes. This shows Mubarak still has his head above his mind. It is time for America to put an end to that ego and bring him crashing to earth. But how can they do that without triggering a countrywide looting, killing and pandemonium?
- What does it mean to the rest of the world? Probably not a whole lot if you are not from Pakistan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Jordan, Sudan and some countries whose profiles are similar. The world has changed so much that even Sarah Palin can spell Egypt properly thanks to Facebook and Twitter. So everyone is watching. Some vicariously. Some voyeuristically. Some with genuine concerns and Some with humanity.
There is no quick ending to what is going on there in Egypt. It will take time. Persistent protesters will eventually prevail. Now, the big question is if they can maintain the same decorum they have maintained till now, to bring some dignity to the country’s politics in future.
In a post Mubarak era, Can Egypt once again show the world how to bring the word “civil” to mankind, specially in that region and pave way for restarting a new civilization – A Civilization that is powered by internet & people, for the people and of the people – A civilization that gives no room to corrupt & power hungry politicians to get away with their whims forever?