What Barak Ravid reports in the Israeli daily Haaretz is self-explanatory, just take a look at the image above or click the link for the full article.
The Israeli viewpoint is shared by others of the same persuasion, including some Americans, who fail to understand is that it is exactly this line of thought that has helped the disease that bedevils most of the Arab world spread and take hold of Arab countries and societies and cause headaches and concerns throughout the world, the least of which being economic migration. It also promotes further animosity from within the Arab world. It is both shortsighted and counter-productive.
"Regime stability", "bulwark against extremism/terrorism", etc are catchphrases for maintaining autocratic, single-party regimes that fatten a privileged minority at the top of a pyramid crushing the people languishing at its base. It is the type of political system that brooks no dissension and encourages an inward-looking society ripe for being manipulated by various, and not always entirely benign, forces.
It is also the type of system that gives birth to military genius that orders air force jets to intimidate civilians protesters. The last time an Arab air force was filmed buzzing civilian targets at home was back in 1973 when President Suleiman Franjieh sent Lebanese jets over Palestinian refugee camps and neighboring areas.
There is no doubt that the transition from the presidency of Hosni Mubarak to his successor must take into account the political and diplomatic obligations of Egypt. Order needs to be restored quickly to the country and normalcy resumed. But first there must be a concession from the president and those around him that his time is up. It is an insult to claim or believe that, in a country of 80 million people, it is only Mubarak who can run things. That is an affront to the Egyptian people.
As is the claim by John Bolton and others of his persuasion dismissing this popular movement as a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) plot to overthrow the regime.
Outsiders need to understand that Islam is tightly woven into the fabric of the Arab world. To be perceived as anti-Islam or anti-Islamist is a political death sentence. It is entirely up to the people to decide on the direction their societies take.
The MB represents a part of society (I leave it to the pollsters and statisticians to size it up) and thus must be accorded the recognition it deserves. But it too must be clear in its acceptance of a multi-faceted society with all the ensuing freedoms.
The fact of the matter is that Egypt under Mubarak has suffered a grievous erosion of stature and influence in the Middle East. What we are looking at now is possibly a new Arab order in the making.
countries looking to their interests in the Middle East must do the reverse of what Ravid, Bolton and others advise.
As I write Mubarak is preparing to head off tomorrow's announced "million march". Train services have been halted and barricades are being set up to prevent access to Tahrir (Liberation) Square. It is a test of wills and it will be interesting to see how many people really want the president out and how the army will behave. The military's influence in Egypt cannot be underestimated. It has been the power behind the throne for 60 years but is still being held in high regard by the people. It is in a delicate position now, understandably interested in preserving its privileged position on the Egyptian scene while at the same time being tasked with protecting an unpopular regime.
Just as January 28, 2011 will go down in Egyptian history as a day of wrath and blood, February 1, 2011 will be seen as the day that the popular uprising against Mubarak was either strangled and fizzled out or set the stage for the post-Mubarak period.
The whole world is watching.
A man on a long journey through a perpetual desert.
The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the views of any of my employers, past, present or future.