AN EGYPT without Hosni Mubarak and any vestiges of his repressive and corrupt regime – as well as any new breed of authoritarian and crooked officials – and where the vast majority of citizens finally savoring democracy and justice after nearly three decades of US-backed dictatorship and centuries under absolute rulers.
This is the Egypt that is being envisioned at least implicitly by most Egyptians – and explicitly wished by the Alliance of Progressive Labor – as that transcontinental country (which transects the two continents of Africa and Asia) enters its third week of social upheaval.
The APL reiterated its support for the unprecedented revolt of tens of thousands of Egyptians who are pushing for Mubarak’s ouster or his immediate resignation to pave the way for the democratization of this major power in Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean region and the Islamic world.
After non-stop street demonstrations starting Jan. 25, the “Day of Wrath,” in the capital Cairo and several other leading cities like Alexandria and Suez, Mubarak was forced to offer the protesters a number of concessions, including changing his cabinet, hinting on political reforms and promising that he would no longer seek reelection in September.
But the broad pro-democracy movement rejected outright almost all the deals presented by Mubarak branding them as mere cosmetic efforts to appease the people and to buy time to enable his regime to regain strength. In fact, in-between the massive but peaceful rallies are the periodic harassment of the state’s security forces, especially the police and paid thugs of the ruling National Democratic Party, like the violent dispersal against the protesters in Tahrir Square on Feb. 2. After two weeks of protests, unconfirmed reports put the number of casualties to more than 300 people.
On the other hand, while the protesters were unanimous in their stand that they would negotiate with the government only after the departure of Mubarak; some are willing to talk to Omar Suleiman, who was appointed by Mubarak as his vice president, a brand new post created during the fourth day of the protests.
Suleiman is a close Mubarak ally and also a long-time chief of Egypt’s national intelligence agency, the dreaded General Intelligence Directorate (GID), which is accused of widespread human rights violations, particularly the use of torture against government “enemies,” real and perceived. He is even tagged as the American “CIA’s point man in Egypt.”
Meanwhile, among the opposition forces, Mohamed ElBaradei is touted by the Western governments and media as the most acceptable personality that could lead a post-Mubarak or transitional government. He is a Nobel Laureate in his capacity then as the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But many in the activist ranks are wary of his Western links and even dubbed him as one of the “self-imposed opportunistic leaders…who are backed indirectly by the US government.”
Indeed, the question is no longer whether Mubarak days are numbered – but the exact day when he formally relinquishes his 30 years of iron rule, as the US as early as the fifth day of the protests has already urged an “orderly transition to democracy,” short of directly calling on Mubarak to step down.
“It’s actually a euphemism that the next Egyptian government has to ensure the economic, political and military interests of the US in the volatile Middle East,” the APL said, adding “this, despite for 30 years the US has spent billions of dollars to prop up this despotic regime and a system that the Egyptian people are now heroically trying to dismantle.”
The Egyptians’ uprising is believed to have been directly inspired by the “people power” revolt in neighboring Tunisia that led to the downfall on Jan. 14 of the government of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, notorious for his 24- year reign of corruption and despotism.
Mubarak succeeded Anwar Sadat as Egypt’s president following the latter’s assassination in October 1981.