Mubarak Has Fallen
[President Hosni] Mubarak had sought to cling to power, handing some of his authorities to [Vice President Omar] Suleiman while keeping his title. But an explosion of protests Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely. Hundreds of thousands marched throughout the day in cities across the country as soldiers stood by, besieging his palace in Cairo and Alexandria and the state TV building.
“In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic,” a grim-looking Suleiman said. “He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor.”
Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, whose young suporters were among the organizers of the protest movement, told The Associated Press, “This is the greatest day of my life.” “The country has been liberated after decades of repression,” he said adding that he expects a “beautiful” transition of power.
We can only hope.
Why does the Egyptian Army command such respect and devotion from the Egyptian people? Because it was from the lowly ranks that Gamal Abdel Nasser, Mohammed Naguib, and several other officers belonging to a secret organization called the Free Officers, toppled the latest descendant from the 148-year-old Muhammad
Ali dynasty, King Farouk I of Egypt and Sudan, in 1952. These young men were disgusted with Egypt’s semi-colonial standing with the British, and that Egypt was not an independent democracy.
The years Nasser was in power were great days for Egypt and Egyptians. Nasser was an Arab nationalist; he nationalized the Suez Canal (thus precipitating the last instance of “gunboat diplomacy” instigated by the British and the French in that region). He helped unite Syria and Egypt into one republic, the United Arab Republic (a union which only lasted three years, from 1958-1961). Furthermore, Nasser helped establish the international Non-Aligned Movement. Despite his defeat in the Six Day War against 1967, Nasser was revered and continues to be revered as an Arab hero not only in Egypt but elsewhere in the Mideast. There are still Arabs who consider themselves Nasserists, or those who admire his brand of Arab nationalism: Nasserism.
Such heroes–and successors–have come repeatedly from the military. Anwar el-Sadat, Hosni Mubarak were both military men. This long tradition has got to be broken for the sake of the country.
Furthermore, conscripts into the Egyptian Army are mostly those who were formerly illiterate and unemployed. You could say that they are everyone’s sons, nephews, brothers, fathers, neighbors, and friends who did not have an outlet for self-improvement. As a result, these conscripts were given an education, and were given jobs in the military. The military, therefore, is considered a steppingstone to further education, is a gateway to the middle class, and subsequently to the political and economic classes. It is ranked 11th in the world, and consists of 450,000 active members.
The current Minister of Defense and head of the Higher Military Council is Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. But Tantawi, 75, is a reactionary who American observers say is resistant to political and economic change. He may be too much of a dinosaur to seize power on his own, but there are others who preside on the Higher Military Council. Any of them may be seeing an opportunity. Those individuals might step out from behind Tantawi and eventually create a dictatorship, which would dash the hopes of those people who fought and demonstrated at Tahrir Square for democracy. I hate to say this, but except for someone like George Washington, who was called the Cincinnatus of his time, I have seen very few military leaders in modern times who voluntarily relinquished total power to civilian leaders and a democratic process.
Gamal Abdel Nasser died in his bed, but he also survived several assassination attempts, including ones that were bankrolled by the Saudi Royal Family. I’m sure that the House of Sa’ud right now is feeling a bit less sure on the throne in Riyadh. There have been rumors that 86-year-old King Abdullah has died; but the Royal Family and their spokespeople continue to deny these claims, especially at a time of turbulence in the natural order (as it were) in the Middle East. Don’t think Aljazeera isn’t beaming these events to all in the Mideast, making the young see visions and the old dream dreams, except for Iran (which has cut off all Internet and satellite connections in and outside of the country) and a couple of other despotic regimes. I think that if His Majesty truly has died, they are trying to shore up someone’s standing and getting all the ducks in a row before the official announcement of his transition. Of the possible successors, not one of them is less than 70 years old.
What remains to be seen is how the Egyptian military will rule up to the time of the elections later in the year. Because frankly, the gangsters and torturers and the police are still on the loose. Egyptians are already talking about putting those who encouraged corruption and extortion on trial, and putting the excesses of the secret police on trial as well. It could be that nothing will happen until after the elections, and then things will eventually get organized. I doubt whether it will be anything like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee and the resultant truth trials. If those guilty of such things know better, they had better beat a retreat. And if you were wondering, Switzerland has taken a decisive hand regarding former President Hosni Mubarak’s bank accounts in that country.
Mubarak — who stepped down on Friday in the wake of massive protests that have gripped Cairo and Alexandria for weeks — and his family have a net worth of at least $5 billion, analysts tell The Huffington Post. Recent media reports pegging the family fortune at between $40 and $70 billion are considered to be exaggerated.
Much of their fortune has reportedly been invested in offshore bank accounts in Europe and in upscale real estate. On Friday, Switzerland froze accounts possibly belonging to Mubarak and his family, a spokesman told Reuters, under new laws governing ill-gotten gains. Last month, the Swiss froze the accounts of Mubarak’s ally, ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose overthrow inspired the first protests in Cairo.
I think the estimate about Mubarak’s profits has been low-balled. I think he’s worth between $20-30 billion. Wanna bet that much of that is our tax money?
I am glad that Omar Suleiman nicknamed “Sheik al-Torture” by his fellow Egyptians, is not going to be around to continue his role as CIA and rendition connection. I’m sure that all of these events have shocked many from Israel to Iran. Unfortunately, the CIA will always find replacements, but let us hope that they won’t come from Egypt any time soon.