Egypt and beyond…
It’s not just because of the pyramids and other monuments from history, its vast culture, its outstanding place in the Arab world or that it was the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood… Egypt is a very important country. Irrespective of how bad the per capita income or how unjust the distribution of wealth might be, Egypt is a great country; a source of illumination and inspiration. Whatever happens in Egypt can’t just stay there but has repercussions in faraway lands one cannot imagine.
The start of the so-called “Arab Spring” in Tunisia was like a very bad joke. Muhammed Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate, not only burned himself to death in protest at his unemployment, but ignited a fire that engulfed the entire neighborhood. The “spring” that started with a demand for employment, better distribution of wealth and better governance was, however, soon hijacked by Islamist radicals, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood.
Where was the United States and other Western powers in all that we have been experiencing for the past few years? Were they the match that set Bouazizi on fire, or the voice whispering into his ear that the time has come to set himself on fire? Or what? It was clear anyhow that the “spring” was exploited to serve the Greater Middle East and North Africa dreams… Instead of “loyal” or “bought” dictatorships, it must have been better to have Muslim democracies suitable for all kinds of manipulation. That might not be the case at all; how can we know anyhow if we are the ones eavesdropping on everyone, even our allies?
In any case, the “spring” was hijacked by Islamist fundamentalist elements to the extent not foreseen by the designer. Instead of groups like that of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), people far more Islamist and conservative – and indeed radical – emerged as the new tyrants. Seeing the failed victories in Egypt and Libya, most of the Western game-setters tried to play it cool on Syria – something the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood, sorry the AKP, could not understand.
After all, was it not the same West who was constantly in bed with those nasty dictators all through the past many decades? Since when has the existence of democracy or human rights, freedoms and such Western norms in backward or developing regions with rich underground riches mattered to the West? What about Rwanda, Congo, Yemen? Forget it, is there anyone who remembers his responsibility for the transformation of the former Yugoslavia into a slaughterhouse for the Muslims just the other day?
Regardless, for a change, the interests of the people of the region and global hegemony might overlap this time. Right, in international relations what’s only – and only – important is the eternal interests, the rest is all conjectural literature. Still, should there not be some morality even in the worst development?
On the first anniversary of his coming to power, Egypt’s new pharaoh, Mohamed Morsi, is facing some daunting tasks. People are again on the streets. The murder of 18 people was enough to bring former pharaoh Hosni Mubarak to the courtroom in a cage, consequently resulting in his sentencing to life imprisonment. Now six protestors have lost their lives; five ministers have stepped down and the military has issued a memorandum…
If the hijacked “spring” can be claimed back in Egypt – which appears to be in the pipeline – we have to be ready to see the fallout in the rest of this region.
That won’t be good news for the AKP…