Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Monday 14 February 2011

Egypt - More thoughts

So Mubarak has gone after thirty years of rule. In scenes on the streets of Cairo of near hysteria, the self styled Pharaoh abandoned plans to remain in office to oversee the transition to more democratic government and resigned. I presume he lingered on for a few days to complete the burning and shredding of documents that were detrimental to his interests and those of his cronies. Indeed the burning down of Mubarak's own party buildings, complete with documents, bank statements etc, may have committed by his own men masquerading as protesters.
Mubarak could only be sustained in power with the help of friends in well remunerated positions of influence. In the witch hunt that will surely follow his departure, many of these cronies will want to quit the country, taking their wealth with them. Some however will be high ranking officers in the armed services and may wish to stay on, having recently ostensibly re-aligned themselves with the forces for change. In which case the few extra days in power will have enabled the army to cleanse the records and Mubarak's men will still hold positions of power.

The army, the best managed of all the Egyption institutions, will take temporary charge of the Country until such a time as new elections can be arranged. The army has behaved impeccably throughout the eighteen days of protest, thereby winning the confidence of the people as they restore 'legitimacy to the people', whatever that means.
It must be born in mind that the strength of the armed forces owes much to its hardware and this is essentially American. It will need to be upgraded and maintained and for this reason, the Generals are not going to be happy with any shift in sentiment away from the West. The US reportedly also gives a 'grant' to Egypt each year amounting to $1.5 billion. As a consequence, Egypt upholds its long standing peace treatment with Israel, giving peace to the people despite the best efforts of Hamas and other Islamic groups to destabilize the status quo.

The new regime must be wary that the present euphoria will disappear more quickly than a camel's smile when the populace realise that changes will not happen overnight and then will not apply to all the various factions of the population equally. The first priority will be to restore the Country's finances and that means getting people back to work and rebuilding the fractured tourist industry; especially important because it directly brings much needed hard currency into the country. In this respect Egypt is blessed with bounteous assets. Apart from the heritage tourism born out of their phaoronic past, Egypt has miles of land bordering the Red Sea, one of the most tourist amenable locations in the entire world. I would only say that the Egyption people need to view the west in more friendly light. In my last visit, a boat trip up the Nile, a friend of mine was shot in the face by a youth with an air gun. The incident occurred, without provocation, in the spice souk in Aswan. My friend, who suffered a wound to his face, wanted to give chase but was restrained and told it would only make matters worse if he took the law into his own hands. On the streets of Luxor, I felt uncomfortable when with schoolchildren who I felt were hostile to our presence. Who is teaching these youngsters such hatred to westerners? Their attitude must change if they are to encourage tourists to visit and probably more important, investors to develope the Red Sea resorts.
One final point on this. Mubarak would like to stay (and die) in Egypt; at his home in the Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheik. By allowing him to stay in the country it will mean his billions will not be lost to the Egyptian economy and may be instrumental in building the very infrastructure the Country needs.

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