Sunday, February 6, 2011

Change in the Land of the Pharaoh's

While in no way am I pertaining to be an expert in the field, I have a soft spot for Egyptian history and culture.

Egypt is the world's oldest nation state, with 5,000 years of concentrated central authority headed by a mighty figurehead. Dynasties, foreign and domestic came and went while the population kept the country's heart beating to the rhythm of the Nile. While the exact location of the capitol shifted around between the centuries, the general governing model remained largely unchanged.

Any revolution, or change of governing authority usually involved a purge at the higher levels of government only, keeping the overall social order intact. Of course there are a few minor exceptions throughout history.

It was Lenin who said that there are decades where nothing happens, and weeks were decades happen. It is arguable that the common people of Egypt have gained more pull with the authority in two weeks than they have been able to garner in 5,000 years.

Why then, is there such a rush to get rid of Mubarak? Yes, his arm was twisted into stepping down in an orderly manner. The prospect of a dynasty is formally killed and he has also relinquished control of his powerful Egyptian National Democratic Party. So why not continue to pressure him to make concessions in a position where the isn't much of a future stake for him (except for honor and personal wealth)?

His immediate resignation would leave Omar Suleiman as interim president with practically no power to make reforms. The current constitution forbids him from adopting reforms and making cabinet appointments. The situation would be a disaster. Perhaps Hosni is correct when he points out that if he will resign immediately, chaos will ensue.

The last thing that Egyptians need right now is a free for all pitting brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor.

Egyptians have gained so much in the last couple of weeks. They don't want to through it by going to far and letting 5,000 years of social evolution descend into petty factionalism. Let Hosni pack his pekelakh when the time his due. Yes, he was corrupt, but he also adopted many reforms that helped Egypt modernize and it's not like there was a realistic better option.

UPDATE: It looks as though the initial popular momentum of the opposition is gone. The people want to get on with their lives, be able to get money and food, rather than shelter themselves with emergency supplies and wooden bats. The opposition groups are now in discussion with Omar Suleiman on an orderly transition of power, keeping Mubarak in charge for the meantime. The MB is playing the pragmatists, as usual. The Machiavellian group is set on working with the regime while other opposition groups are posing more hasty and radical demands. Make no mistake about it, this is merely a tactic to make themselves appear attractive to the regime and thus maximize their role in any upcoming power sharing agreement.

Interestingly enough, El Baradei was shut out. I think everyone knows that aside from 300,000 Facebook friends, he does not have concrete support.


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