It has been a long wait from January 25 to February 11.Billions around the world watched as a few thousand Egyptians responded to the call of change and walked defiantly towards Tahrir Square. Their mission was one; to remove the man who had sat in the chair of President for the last 30 years, Hosni Mubarak. They were threatened stopped and many were killed yet it did not stop the mass upsurge. Every passing day the resilience grew stronger and deeper. February 1 was one of the darkest days during this whole uprising when the Pro Mubarak group attacked the peaceful protestors. It seemed like the movement had come to end that the government had finally broken the backbone of the movement and then came the news of Alexandria. Reports began to emerge about similar mass uprisings everywhere around Egypt. The fire had engulfed other parts of Egypt and in no time the movement sprung back to its feet. Infact it was the Alexandria uprising which finally spelt doom for Mubarak. It gave strength to the few thousands battling in Cairo that their fellow Egyptians were with them. It was this final resilient push that eventually toppled the regime.
As the dust begins to settle in, people around the world began to analyse what next for Egypt. Skeptics warn that this will give rise to instability and a radical regime which in today’s world is synonymous with an Iran like structure. These are the views that have to dissected in a proper manner.
First and foremost the Egyptian public was always very clear on what they wanted. Almost every analyst around the world proclaims that the million dollar question is what next? However this question was never a problem for the youth who had led the revolt. They were always clear on what they wanted. They wanted their country to be governed by a government which would be elected under a free and fair election process. Thus it was logical that the country would be under some sort of military council until the elections were held. Once Mubarak nominated Omar Suleiman as the Vice Presidential candidate, there was no major protest to actually remove Omar Suleiman from that position. Although many resented the fact that Omar was elected the Vice President yet on ground level people did not clamor for his removal. The people wanted Mubarak to resign and subsequently an election taking place under a caretaker government in this case Omar Suleiman and the armed forces. The average Egyptian did not protest these changes. This proves that they have a basic understanding of how their country is governed. This proves the fact that they have faith in the constitution of the country. If that wouldn’t have been the case they would have further gone on strike to remove Omar Suleiman and other members of the government. However they didn’t and this proves the political maturity of the Egyptian population. Infact many youth activists across Cairo have sat together and formed a draft plan one which will take their country forward in the 21st century. Another noteworthy fact was the minimal cases of looting during the protest. Generally such large scale mass protests include mass scale arsonist activities, however in Egypt such cases were unheard of barring a few isolated cases. There were scenes of protestors forming a human chain around the Cairo museum in order to protect it from any palpable damage. In short the Egyptians wanted Mubarak out of power and had absolute faith in their country and its constitution. There concern was to remove the person who had pushed them to the brink of poverty over the past 30 years and now they wanted a free and fair government which would work for them. Thus it would be wrong to proclaim that the Egyptians have no idea of what next.
The second issue is regarding the so called Muslim Brotherhood’s rise and emergence of an Iran like structure. To understand this statement holistically we must understand the basic composition of the Egyptian society. The Egyptian society has never been one which has believed on narrow religious or sectarian lines. When the Iranian revolution had happened in 1979 it was clearly a public uprising but one which had strong religious contours. It talked about a cultural and religious revival while denouncing the moves of the ruler which was perceived as anti Islamic. Hence it was logical that a government which would emerge out of such a movement would be a government which would be radical in nature.
Such a scenario is however not the case with Egypt. From day one the Egyptian movement has been one which has been secular in nature and represented the mass aspirations rather than some socio-religious revival. The Egyptians revolution was based on fulfilling their aspirations rather than revisionist tendencies like the one in Iran. It was an obvious fact even for the Muslim brotherhood which despite having fared fairly well in the elections choose to stay away from the leadership of the movement. They could gauge that this was a people’s movement one that was not moved by religious lines but rather aspirations. If it would have done that then the mass would not have appealed to their call and it would have seriously dented their capability. Hence the Muslim brotherhood itself played a smart move by staying away from the process since the ground realities were evident for them. However as the world always finds the Middle East its favourite flagging boy; it went on to quote the whole movement as one which smacked of religo-political aspirants. It is high time that the western powers took a pragmatic view of the Middle East in terms of subaltern.
The third issue is regarding the future of Israel. In terms of realpolitik it is the Israel question which will haunt the western powers more. For long the Middle East has been a grey area for world peace where dictators were backed by nations who wanted to propagate their own geopolitical interests in this regard. Israel was seen as an ally for the West in the Middle East and a balancer to the Middle East question. However if anything that the history has taught us is that it has never worked well for anyone.
As preparations begin for a new government in Egypt questions regarding the Israel-Palestine issue are being raised. Egypt was one of the few Arab allied of the Israeli nation and now there is a sense that this status quo might be threatened. On the ground level there is no indication of such a move by any section apart from the press statement of a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman. If we were to discount this political rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood then for the average Egyptian Israel is not a question that has to be discussed anytime soon. However for the world this might be a good time to actually think in terms of solving the Israel-Palestine issue in finality. The past 60 years have brought untold misery upon the population of the Israeli state and the Palestinian people. It is time the world takes a pragmatic view in this regard. With the flame of democracy fanning across Middle East there is bound to be a revaluation of the situation. The recent peace talks have seen the Palestinian authority of talking about the one state solution one which will see Israel become a minority in its own country. With Mubarak out of power in Egypt Israel have few allies left in Middle East to count on. Hence the Israeli government should pick up talks with the Palestinian Authority officials at the earliest with the two nation agenda on the table if necessary. A lasting peace to the Middle East crisis is imperative.
One issue which stood out during the whole revolution was the silence of the world leaders. Apart from Iran which has its own agenda no western power urged Hosni Mubarak to step down. As the Egyptian population desperately looked towards the western world for help the world leaders choose to remain quite. It reaffirmed the fact that was exhibited in the Cancun climate meet that in real terms there is no world leader as of today. Having said that the silence of the western powers was understandable given the fact that Hosni Mubarak has been an ally of the Western World for over 30 years while neglecting how own population. However as the stage sets in for the formation of a new government in Egypt ,the world leaders should not make the same mistake they made in refusing to recognize Hamas when it had won free and fair elections. It was a chance to engage the Hamas conclusively in the peace process however the world looked away and a golden chance to bring in peace was lost.
The same mistake should not be repeated in Egypt. Whatever government is elected in Egypt it should be welcomed with open arms by the world leaders. Since it would be a government which will rise out of mass aspirations it must be given a chance to get involved in the Middle East peace making process if it wishes so. Even if the government contains an element of the Muslim Brotherhood it must be accepted. Adherence to a religious ideology does not naturally turn a state into a rouge state.AKP party of Turkey stands out in this regard. It has brought forward a new face of so called Islamic polity. This was possible because of the cosmopolitan society of Turkey which is not divided in narrow lines. This situation is akin to the Egyptian society and hence any government which comes to power will be balanced since it is a reflection of the societal aspiration. In any case the world must accept the new Egyptian process and make it a partner and leader in furthering the cause of world peace.