Interfering in Egypt II

Alaa Al-aswany recently said that overthrowing Mubarak was too easy to be true. Many have constantly batted away at the fears that the January revolution was not as pure as it seemed.

The recent events can not possibly make us calmer. The demonstrators in front of the cabinet building were anything but peaceful. They were clearly infiltrated by more than a few “bad elements”, hooligans looking for a bit of fun, youth at bay with nothing better to do. They stained the honor of the well-meaning protesters.  Even those who are “well meaning” have failed to articulate a clear agenda or proceed in a coherent fashion to build a country.

If the youth were at  fault, the adults were much worse. The Army commanders are inept and heavy handed. Their prevarications and transparent lies make one wonder how they would do in warfare where clarity and decisiveness are essential. The troops appeared at moments to be nothing more than an unruly mob, raining rocks and bodily fluids on the protesters. The political class is irrelevant. Some bleated their concern. Others kept silent, their snouts sniffing the wind for a clue. The biggest winners of the recent poll, the Muslim Brotherhood, are, as usual, looking out for their interests and are devoid of any moral backbone. They may be very religious, but they are hardly upright. At least the Salafis, to their credit, came out clearly against the boneheaded idea that clearing a public space of demonstrators is done by live ammo. So here we are at the edge of the cliff.

Yesterday’s news conference by General Emara made it very clear: the gloves are off. He posed a choice : heavy-handed tactics by the Army or chaos. The problem is that Egypt is likely to get both.

This will get worse unless people make it get better. Foreign interference is always a bad idea in Egypt. Egypt is a proud under-achiever. But the country is in disarray, brutalized by 60 years of inept military dominance and 30 years of government by a wily dullard.  The only possible salvation must come from the Egyptian Diaspora in the West. It is large (nearly two million in the US, Europe and Australia), possessed of relative wealth and education, ecumenical (both Muslim and Copt), and perhaps still carrying the memory of an older and gentler Egypt. The question is whether they can organize and  navigate the treacherous Western politics. Many Western politicians will try to use the predicament of Egypt to drive home crude ideological points. An even handed approach is both necessary and difficult. Some of the self-proclaimed leaders are suspect. The best people are often quiet, not wishing to be involved in the rough and tumble. One can take heart in the efforts of people like Ahmed Zwail to tackle the perennial problems of degraded education and poor infrastructure. These are worthwhile long term efforts, but can they survive the scorching of short term problems?

Purposeful leadership is awaited and hopefully it will emerge in time.

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