Issue XLVIII: On Mubarak

13 Feb

“An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

They say that when President Gamal Abdel Nasser died in 1970, he only had seventy Egyptian pounds in his bank account.  The founder of modern Egypt died a poor man.  A common man to the last.

Nasser overthrew the last king of Egypt and founded the modern republic of Egypt.  He promoted a secular and socialist vision for the Middle East.  A future without kings, without religious fundamentalism, and without colonial oppression from the West or Israel.  He promoted Arab nationalism and a Middle East that united all the Arabic speaking people into one Arab nation.

The general was a towering figure in the world and founded the Non-Aligned Movement with other greats of that era: Nehru in India, Sukarno in Indonesia, Tito in Yugoslavia.  A world without nuclear weapons and a Third World that refused to take sides in the Cold War.

When Nasser died, people carried his picture in the streets for days and wept.

When Hosni Mubarak boards that eventual flight to Saudi Arabia (where all former Muslim dictators retire to), he will leave as probably the most hated man in the Middle East.  A man who willingly traded Egypt’s independence for American military aid.  An American and Israeli puppet who would fence in his fellow Arabs in Gaza to starve under Israel’s siege.  A man who intended to put his son into the presidential palace, re-introducing monarchy to Egypt.  And a man who controls 40 to 75 billion dollars in a nation where about half the people live on $2 or less a day.  A man whose own interior minister was responsible for terrorist attacks on the Coptic Christian community.  This torturer-and-thief terrorized the populace with his police and goons and spies.

They say that when the protests began in Egypt, Mubarak didn’t understand what the problem was.  That there was bread riots, unemployment, and horrible Cairo traffic.  “Traffic?  What traffic?  I never see any traffic,” he said.  Mubarak didn’t know that his police cleared all the streets of Cairo when his motorcade rolled about town.  A man who doesn’t know there is traffic in Cairo won’t die with seventy pounds in his bank account.

No one will weep when Mubarak dies in London or Riyadh.  In a way, his rule is disappointing not so much because he was that much worse than any other Arab dictator but because his petty, venal state was unworthy of Egypt.  A new pan-Arab movement may soon sweep the globe.  Nasser’s dream may soon come true with the departure of Mubarak, a man unfit to even sit in Gamal Abdel Nasser’s chair.

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