The Jasmine Revolution, based on the Tunisian paradigm, spreads its young perfume to the four corners of the Arab world of 25 countries and territories, with 360 million inhabitants (See Under the Microscope, Jan. 16, 19, and 26, 2011).
This Jasmine Revolution, a genuinely youthful revolution of survival, has combined two hungers (one material and one spiritual), inspiring the unemployed, starving university graduates of Jordan, Yemen and Egypt (for the time being), who are interconnected through social networks and the splendid coverage of Qatar-based Al Jazeera television.
In Egypt, the uprising (intifada) was ripe for happening, lacking only the detonator of the Tunisian paradigm.
The satrapy of Mubarak holds (or, perhaps, held) the worst mixture of two hells: political autocracy and economic neo-liberalism. Interestingly, during the 59 years since establishment of the republic that deposed the British-supported monarchy, its only four presidents, all military, have not ended well (Neguib, Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak).
Before it exploded, there were ominous signs, not taken into account by the old order of Hosni Mubarak — a satrap of 36 years, if you count the six years when he served as vice president of Sadat, who was assassinated — an ominous one-party power, whose National Democratic Party headquarters have been burned as a warning of what lies ahead.
Beyond its alliance with the hyper-militarianism of the United States and Great Britain and their support of Israel’s Palestinian infanticide in Gaza, there were three fatal signs: The workers’ protests in the Nile Delta, because of rising food prices in 2008, which led to the creation of the libertarian surfer movement of April 6, with no political affiliation, allied with the miserable Kafaya [the black and white checked scarf] (Enough!); blatant, totalitarian fraud in recent legislative elections; and killings, coupled with cultural and political suffocation of Coptic Christians (10 percent of the population).
If the youth of Egypt were slow to legitimately rebel, it is more certainly true that it took Obama — not to mention his many predecessors — even longer to realize that one of the best, enduring allies of the U.S. in the region, the octogenarian Mubarak, is one of the worst despots on the planet. He wanted to establish as his successor his son Gamal the banker, a former executive of the Bank of America in London, which benefited from the wave of neo-liberal privatization.
Egypt is facing the classic end of an old regime. The hours left to Mubarak can be counted, but unlike the ouster of the autocratic Tunisian Bin Ali Baba, his fall will have far-reaching consequences in Middle Eastern geopolitics that puts into question, if not in the pillory, the U.S.-Great Britain-Israel-Egypt axis.
Its geopolitical significance — with the most powerful Arab army, in 10th place as a world military — is derived as much from its position as the bridge between Africa and Asia as from its most strategic possession of the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, through which passes a substantial percentage of the region’s oil.
Egypt, a vibrant country and the seat of several wondrous, overlapping civilizations, represents the heart of the Arab world and has the largest population (23 percent of the total), in its overwhelmingly young majority: Sixty percent are under the age of 30. The Jasmine Revolution of the young and its elusive fragrances also epitomizes a true demographic revolution in the Arab world in particular, and in Islam in general.
In Egypt, 4.3 percent of the population is over 65 years in age, a demographic segment to which 82-year-old Mubarak belongs. His recently named vice president (a position which has been vacant since Mubarak became president 30 years ago), Lt. Gen Omar Suleiman — the super-spy responsible for the Mukhabrat, secret service torturers — is almost 75 years old and physically ill (psychiatric illness, taken for granted for executioners).
The newly appointed prime minister, Marshal of Aviation Ahmed Shafik, is 69 years old. The head of the army (Minister of Defense in the deposed government of Ahmed Nazif, millionaire technocrat from a monarchist family), Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi field Soliman, is 75 years old. This is about an autocracy of great-grandparents (said respectfully) that represses and suppresses their grandchildren, with a gap of three generations: gerontocracy infanticide!
Nearly 60 percent of Egyptians, those 30 years of age and younger, were not yet born when Mubarak was appointed, first to the vice presidency and then to the presidency. What has emerged is a mental disconnection with the reality of the human environment that has allowed to exist — for over two generations — the eternal triad of the U.S., Israel and the United Kingdom, for geopolitical expediency and global finances.
I strongly disagree with the very Western thesis that the Arab world is living its Berlin moment. Not at all! Its time is uniquely Tunisian. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the libertarian wave of former Soviet republics benefited the U.S. and Great Britain more than anyone. Today, the situation is reversed: The U.S. and Great Britain may suffer a severe strategic defeat in the Middle East.
An editorial in The Guardian (1/29/2011), which does not hide its preference for a transitional government of the highly respected (rather than popular) Mohamed El Baradei, Nobel Peace Prize and former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), argues that revolution (sic) threatens not only the Mubarak regime, but also the strategy constructed by the U.S. and Great Britain in the Middle East.
Simon Tisdall (The Guardian, 1/28/2011) holds that the White House is reeling on loose Egyptian ropes, and that more important to the U.S. than the advent of a democratic government is a friend: The practical outweighing the theoretical, the U.S. will support an authoritarian system for personal reasons. Isn’t that the way the the U.S. has behaved in Mexico for generations?
Haaretz (1/27/2011) describes the geopolitical angst of Israel: The Mubarak regime prevails in Egypt, despite the protests. The Netanyahu government minister, who requested anonymity (supersic!), suggested the use of force (extrasic!), so that the security apparatus will maintain control. There is nothing new from the Netanyahu government, which, in the style of Calderon, wants to resolve everything by military means.
The best: Two days later, the families of Israeli diplomats in Egypt fled on a special flight (Stratfor, 1/29/2011).
The U.S. has moved to damage control and will opt for the scenario that is less harmful to its geopolitical interests.
There are several scenarios (which we will subsequently break down): From an open or surreptitious military coup (with Lieutenant General Sami Anan), touched up by the remote-controlled Honduran election syndrome, passing through a transitional government (headed by ElBaradei and Musa Amer), until the free elections, where the Muslim Brotherhood can excel. The U.S. nightmare would be a replay of the 1979 Khomeini revolution in Iran.