ELAASAR: Are we heading for another MidEast crisis? FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 29, 2008

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Are we heading for another crisis in the Mid East?
The countdown for Egypt’s dictator Mubarak has started
By Aladdin Elaasar –
Two books have been published recently predicting the downfall of President Mubarak of Egypt and the aftermath of the collapse of his regime. The first book is “Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution” by John R. Bradley. The second book is called “The Last Days: the Horror Awaiting us” by Egyptian journalist Abdulhalim Qandeel. The two books have been acclaimed as a frightening depiction of the case of decay of the Egyptian society on every level and the inevitable collapse of the Mubarak’s regime and the chaos that might spread through the region.

Bradley’s Inside Egypt has been described as “terrifically well-told and extremely sobering”. “In this highly readable and thoughtful volume, Bradley provides a devastating critique of Egypt’s current dictatorial government.” “Inside Egypt is an original, angry, brilliant, subtle, and highly readable expose of contemporary Egyptian politics and society.” Says Peter Bergen, author of Holy War Inc.

“Egypt is the next domino to fall and, as they say, so goes Egypt so goes the Middle East. John R. Bradley hits the nail on the head, explaining why a pillar of American dominance in that part of the world is about to crumble.” Says Robert Baer, former Middle East-based CIA operative and author of See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil

Five decades after Nasser and the Free Officers overthrew the British-backed monarchy in a dramatic coup d’état, the future of Egypt grows more uncertain by the day. John Bradley examines the junctions of Egyptian politics and society as they slowly disintegrate under the twin pressures of a ruthless military dictatorship at home and a flawed Middle East policy in Washington. Inside Egypt is a tour-de-force of the most brutal Arab state where torture and corruption are endemic–but one that is also a key U.S. all and a historic regional trendsetter. This uniquely insightful book brings to vivid life Egypt’s competing identities and political trends, as the Mubarak dynasty struggles to resolve a succession crisis and the disciplined Islamists wait patiently in the wings for a chance to seize power.

As for Qandeel’s The Last Day, he paints a gloomy and a frightening picture of the state of affairs in Egypt as unemployment has reached more than 30 % and 34 %of Egyptians are under the poverty line. Qandeel further states that only 2 % 0f the population is controlling economy, while more than 90 % are poor.

Qandeel sees that Egypt as a reservoir of anger, a country that is burning and waiting to burst into chaos and lawlessness.

Egyptians are enraged at the thought that Mubarak’s son, Gamal, would be their next ruler as in Syria, continuing on the same route of his father enriching the elite and business cronies while ignoring the increasing demands of the masses for reform.

Mubarak has ruled Egypt with an iron fist since 1981 turning Egypt into a police state with a security force that nears 2 million elements, worse than the last day of the Shah of Iran.

The Mubarak’s regime has grown very unpopular and detested by most Egyptians. Prices of basic food items and commodities are skyrocketing. The large population of young educated, jobless, unmarried youth is alienated and getting more frustrated and angry everyday.

The possible fall of the centralized government of Egypt and the Mubarak’s regime could send shock waves throughout the globe. Under the current regime, there is no apparent chain of command or democratic institutions that would facilitate the transfer of power to the next president.

Qandeel, who was beaten up few years ago by government thugs for criticizing Mubarak and left fighting for his life, says that the door is wide open to all kinds of speculations of unnerving scenarios. Would an ambitious general stage another coup, turning Egypt into a God -knows-what regime? Would Egypt witness another Khomeini-style revolution? Considering the alarming rising poverty figures in Egypt and the disparities between the classes, could Egypt be overrun by an angry and hungry mob, French Revolution style? On the world arena, nothing is more disturbing to political analysts, policymakers and stockowners in the U.S. and Western capitals than waking up one day to the breaking news coming from the Middle East that one of the long assumed allies have been toppled by a coup or a popular uprising of angry masses creating chaos, panic and uncertainty in international markets.

Average citizens and consumers worldwide have been paying the price for conflicts in the Middle East in terms of jacked up oil prices; consequently increasing the prices of gasoline, heat and energy bills and other commodities. Political stability means economic growth, less spending on military conflicts, more cash to social programs, happy voters, and hence high ratings for politicians. It is all one big picture, a cycle of connected events, inevitably and inextricably linked in our ever shrinking global village, says Egyptian political scientist Hani Ismail.

Given this equation, any near term trigger event in Egypt would garner at least the same global attention as any other Middle East regional conflict. Hence, the four scariest words in the political dictionary are: Egypt after Hosni Mubarak? 

(Aladdin Elaasar  is an award-winning Arab American journalist and author of several books including Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. and “The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Volatile Middle East”. Email him at omaraladin@aol.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com