Tunisia: The Harbinger for Egypt’s Day of Departure
The one month Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia which saw president Zine el Abdine Ben Ali flee the country and seek refuge in Saudi Arabia, has become the harbinger for Egypt. It was against the proclivities of the two governments to carry on with seemingly bad political reforms that have left the two countries stock with massive unemployment and a low standard of living. (Photo: Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution)
Before, most revolutions were named after their countries, the Russian Revolution, the English Revolution, and the Mexican Revolution etc. Now the names of flowers like Jasmine have become the common means by which people revolt against oppressive governments. The name Jasmine Revolution was tagged by a seasoned Tunisian journalist; Jasmine itself is the country’s most popular flower.
The said Revolution started in Tunisia when police officers trying to enact the law confiscated the supplies of a petty trader. The trader was a 26-year-old unemployed university graduate selling fruits to make a living. He became devastated and set himself ablaze. The police said they were doing their job by enacting the laws of the country, and claimed that the victim failed to produce the necessary permit to trade. But the police by exercising their duty, failed to realise that the populace had become fed-up with the government. In fact people had thronged the street in protest like wildfire in the harmattan wind. The protesters didn’t stop until the regime collapsed and the president Ben Ali, escaped like a cat with its tail in between its legs.
However, the ‘Jasmine smell’ didn’t only stop in Tunisia, it whiffed across the border like fireworks that produce incessant hissing sounds before exploding into neighbouring Egypt. Yes it’s a political squib against a tyrannical government in Egypt led by a nefarious leader in Hosni Mubarak. President Mubarak has been in power close to thirty odd years. With the help of the United States of America, his closest ally (the second largest America’s aid recipient after Israel), he brought some semblance of freedom and development into the country. But his dictatorial tendencies and bad political reforms were none of its kind in Africa.
Egypt is a country blessed with ancient artefacts and wonderful pyramids which attract thousands of tourists every year. And the tourist sector provides six percent of Egypt’s revenue. But bad leadership coupled with poor political reforms and massive corruption had not helped, to say the least. The attempt of President Mubarak to resist the people’s call for political change would further put Egypt into the edge of downward economic spiral. The fact Mubarak stated in a televised speech that there would be more chaos if he stepped down to allow ‘free and fair’ elections in September, to me was a way of buying time and plunging the embattled country into further lawlessness and anarchy.
Tunisia, and now Egypt, has become the epicentre of a revolution whose cohorts and pro-democrats believe in the ideas of freedom, justice and liberty that they have never enjoyed in the hands of their regimes. It is a fact that is sending seismic tremors to the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East. Seemingly, without reaching there, regimes in Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and even Syria have started taking pre-emptive moves by calling for political reforms.
The Middle East and the entire Arab world would never be the same again, as the people have come to the realisation that freedom, democracy and freedom of expression constitute their inalienable right. What is the vision of the western world, especially America, on the current political imbroglio in Egypt? Yes they want political reforms as they are the praise-singers of the new order. And it is an open secret that Mubarak’s reign as a president is at the end. But who does America prefer to take over the reins of government? Is it the Muslim Brotherhood or President Mubarak’s own party? I think they would prefer the later. America believes that it is only the later that is supporting the peace agreement between Israel and the Palestine. In my view and from what I have noticed American would support the change of leadership and not the party, which is contrary to what majority of the Egyptian people would want – that is, change of leadership and party.
Also, Israel is now grappling with the fear of the contagious revolution in Egypt and probably terrified that it might lead to an Islamist takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, their greatest enemies. The brotherhood has close ties with the Hammas militants who more-or-less rule the Gaza Strip. The Muslim Brotherhood was banned by President Mubarak but could now become a major player if a new political dispensation is ushered in. They have become more popular among the populace in recent years due to the dictatorial tendencies of the current regime. So Israel thinks if there is a change of government now the Muslim Brotherhood would likely win and they denounce that. They see the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group supporting Hammas and other enemies of Israel. Therefore, Israel by any means is not supporting the protest movement that is calling for democratic and transparent government in Egypt. Even the western world is now in a state of limbo as any government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood could undermine their interest in the Middle East and the protracted peace process going on between Israel and Palestine. Hence, they are paying lip-service to the political upheaval in Egypt.
Idrissa Koroma (Babito), UK
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