Egypt’s Revolution hangs in the balance….
Watching events in Egypt is both frustrating and inspirational. The struggle of the Egyptian people is inspirational; their fortitude in the face of the aggression of the Mubarak regime and its paid thugs is simply breathtaking as is their commitment to peaceful change and democracy. Mubarak is certainly trying to test the former commitment and in the face of immense provocation the people have shown amazing restraint. However, and here comes the frustration, we all know this situation cannot last. Something will have to give eventually. Either the protesters will have to allow Mubarak to continue in office, until September at least, or he will be deposed.
If the former happens then it may well be only enforced through a bloodbath. If the latter happens there will probably be violence as well but hopefully it will be minimal. Egypt is in something of a state of limbo with neither side able to force a decisive conclusion. The Army, for its part, seems to be in a similar state of chaos – it seems to an outside observer that nobody is quite sure what to expect of the Egyptian Army and that is probably as true of it itself as much as it is of the rest of us.
Egypt’s opposition seems to be similarly paralysed. Ordinarily, I would say the Muslim Brotherhood would be the most likely candidates as leaders of a organised insurrection. They are the most organised political force by all accounts and this would give them a head-start. However, they are, somewhat sensibly from their long-term point of view, taking a back seat and so I don’t see much chance of them deposing Mubarak by force on their own. This is a good thing for Egypt and its fledgling democracy. The politics of the Brotherhood are in their essence antithetical to democracy and were they to seize power through a coup, they would invariably turn on their erstwhile comrades.
However, clearly is what needed is a force capable of decisively tilting the scales. If only there was a secular democratic and socialist force organised on the scale of the Brotherhood then the revolution may well already have been over. While it is motoring away on its constitution the united opposition does not constitute a government-in-waiting. So, no ‘dual power’ situation exists. This is probably as Western leaders would wish it but their position of calling for a ‘peaceful’ transition is hypocritical and a smokescreen to conceal their real mortal fear of the democratic wishes of the Egyptian people. If they truly wanted a ‘peaceful transition’ then Mubarak must go; it is his continued presence and unwillingness to move that is costing lives not the actions of the protesters.
So, while Obama and Cameron mouth platitudes remember this; there is precious little in terms of concrete action against Mubarak taking place. The right-wing press will tell you different. Today, The Telegraph says Cameron is pushing for sanctions against the regime but the published quotes indicate nothing of the kind. Also, if this is the case he obviously hasn’t told his spokespeople who only yesterday said:
The option of imposing sanctions on Egypt isn’t being considered at this stage, the spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday.
“I don’t think that’s something that’s on the table at the moment,” he said.
Given the fact that the US is not suspending military aid I find it an unlikely story that Cameron is considering this option. However, that should not stop Labour advocating that he should. Frankly, as is becoming par for the course, the leadership has responded pathetically to this issue. Plenty exists that could be done to turn the screws on the Mubarak regime like sanctions and confiscation of all his financial assets that are held here. After all, it was Labour that gave the state the power to attack the finances of people it feels are ‘terrorists’ and, while this fundamentally wrong, Mubarak is certainly a terrorist and so easily qualifies as somebody who should have his assets seized.
However, Labour has at this moment said nothing of consequence. This continued silence is opportunist and shameful and a betrayal of the Egyptian people, their struggle and the very notion of democracy.