by BERNARD JENKINS
Egypt has always been part museum and part madhouse. A dazzling and dizzying country where you could wake up in the morning and decide what century you wanted to hang out in: the 21st or the 10th.
Today it is mostly madhouse. The Freedom virus (another word for nothing left to lose) has spread in the past week from Tunisia to the banks of the Nile. Countless Egyptians have risen up in defiant protests against the modern Pharaoh, 82-year-old Hosni Mubarak, and his tyrannical regime of security goons, unbridled corruption and the rabid insatiable greed of international corporate cannibalism the government has long welcomed and embraced.
As in Tunisia, the protests were sparked and spread from poor neighborhood to poorer neighborhood, from Cairo to Alexandria to Suez to Luxor and Aswan, by the 21st century carrier pigeons of Facebook , Twitter and You Tube. At least until the fetid and frightened regime unplugged the country's internet and cell phone connections. But it was already too late to silence the people.
This Democracy Sirocco (hot desert wind)now blowing across the Arab world is not about America or Israel. These are not the usual renta-mobs sent into the Arab street by the fake kings and phoney pharaohs of the Middle East to burn American flags and shout death to Israel or long live Osama Ben Laden in order to distract their exploited populations with something they can do nothing about, their own miserable state and condition.
What is happening in Egypt is revolution from the bottom up. The loud and angry growl of the people comes from the bottom of empty bellies and empty wallets and empty prospects. The largest Arab country is poorer now than ever. The steel of the police state has been in place since the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser. But since the late 1990s, the hungry vultures of cannibal capitalism have been devouring the infrastructure, industries and natural resources of this ancient land. To these rapacious international "investors" and their government allies too much is never enough. On the other hand, the vast majority of the Egyptian people have had enough. Enough of dirty, too expensive bread to eat. Enough unclean water. Enough shabbily-built, collapsing housing. Enough of unemployment and poverty. Too much of nothing. And enough of Hosni Mubarak and his gangster government.
In the past week, the protesters have become emboldened, indeed, fearless in the face of security police brutality and the heavy presence of the army despatched into the melee as part of Mubarak's desperate efforts to hold back the future. During the weekend, security thugs acting as provocateurs in civilian clothes, unleashed a campaign of looting and violence in the hope of disrupting and diverting the legitimate political character of the protests into the old familiar false propaganda that this is all the fault of outside agitators and anarchists. The Pharaoh Mubarak's fellow dictators and enablers around the world, most notably the Saudis perched nervously on their golden toilet seats, began singing this off-key tune from that tattered old tyrants' songbook.
Among these longtime allies and enablers of the Pharaoh Mubarak, the government of Barack Obama, the poster boy of the status quo and the leading salesman of the snake oil of stability, seems to be twitching and twisting in the usual state of uncertainty. Once again, the US seems to be on the wrong side of events and history, fighting the last war or the one before that. Spouting the toothless euphemisms and weasel words of "reform" and "better democracy, greater opportunity", "orderly transition" and other similar wooferies Trotting out the predictable war on terrorism claptrap using the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt (a fairly feeble Islamist political party) as the bogeyman.
Former Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, once said of the Palestinians, "They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." The time is now for the US Government to come down from the peanut gallery and get in front of this extraordinary parade marching toward freedom, democracy and social justice. Yesterday Tunisia. Today or tomorrow Egypt. The day after tomorrow Syria? The day after that? The handwriting is on the Middle Eastern (Berlin) Wall...