18 days of protests, government supported armed mobs that drove horses and camels through peaceful protesters, over 300 dead because of the mob-induced violence, but, the protesters did not give up. However, President Hosni Mubarak ultimately did. As was announced by his Vice President, President Mubarak resigned his office today and went into retirement.
What will it mean for the people of Egypt in the weeks and months ahead? The rational fear of anyone in the west is first: what will the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood do? It was suggested on CBS Evening News on the date of this historic event—11 February 2011—that the people of Egypt should put together the sort of constitution that will prevent extremist factions from simply taking over the government. I’ll agree. After 30 years of a dictatorship, a newly freed people don’t need to put themselves back into the sad shape they were in before. An expert on CBS Evening News (didn’t catch his name) advised that the west and in particular the U.S. could not simply tell the Egyptians what they must do. Of course not. Egypt is a sovereign nation. And given the fact that the protests against the dictatorial Mubarak government were entirely home-grown, only the Egyptian people can now decide what they want to do with their nation’s future.
The second concern is certainly valid: what of Egypt’s relations with Israel? As was also disclosed, the Mubarak government kept the peace with that nation. However, the man on the streets of Egypt have expressed anti-Israel sentiments. One step at a time. The third concern involves whether the Egyptian military will cede power to the people and assist in formulating the sort of constitution the Egyptian people will want and guarantee free and fair elections. International relationships may have to take a back burner until the people hammer out a future for their nation.
On PBS Washington Week, was the discussion of our “strategic interests” such as peace with Israel and keeping open the Suez canal as being far more important than promoting democracy. Of course, “our strategic interests” especially along a geo-economic level are going to be a greater agenda than the aspirations and the suffering of the people. Which is why our consistently self-interested foreign policy has often failed and created enmity for the west. Why do we need the Suez Canal? For the transportation of Middle Eastern oil. We’ll tolerate the dictators, long after they have out-lived their usefulness as long as we can move big shipments of oil out of the these Arab states. But that doesn’t mean the people will tolerate dictators like Mubarak forever. As demonstrated in the last two weeks. It didn’t have to be that way. So if there is going to be some true uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead as to what the Egyptian people will finally do with their own nation, that is to be expected.
Oh, and oil prices dropped below $86.00 per bbl at the news Mubarak had left office. Will oil prices see-saw back and forth as we watch Egypt make its hopefully permanent transition to democracy. The future of Egypt is for its people to decide.