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The Last Pharaoh will be the biggest challenge to Obama
By Aladdin Elaasar — Assuming that Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama would win the presidential elections in November and become the next man in White House, his biggest challenge in the Middle East will be the Last Pharaoh! It is not the Last Pharaoh, the movie made by Will Smith, but Hosny Mubarak, a.k.a. the Last Pharaoh of Egypt.
Will Smith’s movie does not depict that. If you want to know the true story of the Last Pharaoh of Egypt, you’d better pay attention to what’s going on in Egypt these days and in the near future. That will make a lot of headlines.
Many people consider that the Pharaonic era in Egyptian history had ended thousands of years ago. But to the Egyptians, the memories of their pharaohs are still fresh. The word pharaoh is still used in Egyptian daily language, Arabic, as a detonation of tyranny, arrogance, haughtiness and unjust power. Throughout their history, Egyptians have learned how to live with their oppressors and pharaohs. They developed a unique sense of humor coated with sarcasm and symbolic jokes. It has been their safety valve to vent their anger and frustration against their rulers that have been unjust and overbearing in most cases. Egyptians are known, especially through the Arab Worlds, as tellers of jokes and people of great skill and resourcefulness. It is the outcome of mixing throughout the ages with people of many cultures.
In spite of having one of the most glorious and historical heritages, Egyptians remain nowadays very pessimistic about the future of their country. The future seems to be very bleak and uncertain. Egypt has the highest rates of unemployment, young unmarried people, pollution, corruption, and the highest rate of educated people who see no hope at the end of the tunnel. The Egyptian economy is in shambles with a very high rate of inflation and a great gap between the super rich and the millions who live under the poverty line. Egypt also has one of the highest rates still of child labor, infant mortality, female illiteracy, corruption and abuses of human rights.
President Hosny Mubarak of Egypt has been in power since 1981; a quarter of a century, and has been elected for20six more years in 2005, in one of the most controversial and rigged elections in Egypt in fifty years following military took over in 1952. He is now 83 years old. By the time he finishes his term, he will turn 85. Concerns about Mubarak’s health draws much greater attention to the question of who will next rule the nation of Egypt?
Rumor has it that he has been preparing and polishing his son Gamal Mubarak to be his successor or inheritor – in a country which is supposed to be a republic with elected officials! Mubarak vehemently denies these allegations. Unlike Sadat and Nasser, Mubarak has persistently refused to appoint a vice-president. Mubarak is the continuation of the military rulers who staged a military coup in July of 1952 toppling King Farouk, the last of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty.
The problem? Another political force is connecting to the restive Egyptian people, and this force is the Muslim Brotherhood, known otherwise as Al Qaeda 1.0. By hardwiring themselves into the goodwill of the masses through highly effective social-welfare nets, the Brotherhood is retracing the electoral pathway to power blazed by Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon: hearts and minds first, blood and guts later.
It is now basically a race: Gamal’s quest for foreign direct investment and the jobs it generates versus the Brotherhood’s quest for the political support of average Egyptians
tired of lives led in quiet desperation. Who will win? I’m betting another “olive tree” fight
breaks out long before any Egyptian “Lexus” goes to market,. Esquire columnist Barnett warns.
Sou nd incredible? It isn’t, because the more likely scenario is that Mubarak the Elder dies before Mubarak the Younger can turn himself into Egypt’s Deng Xiaoping, yielding a Tiananmen Souk that lights up the country pronto with the Brotherhood’s prodding. And since these students will be hoisting pictures of Osama instead of a makeshift Goddess of Democracy, Bush’s successor is likely to find himself (or herself) facing an unbelievably bad choice in the largest Arab country. Would America intervene militarily to preserve Gamal’s faltering rule, making good on all the strategic promises implied by the $50 billion in aid to Egyptian regimes since 1975? Or we can hope that this twenty-first-century in a Middle East where Iran has the bomb can hold out? Barnett exclaims.
Drive Al Qaeda & Co. out of the Middle East and it will be forced into its current strategic rear of choice—Africa. Africa is where Al Qaeda hides its money, guns, recruits, training camps—and its future. Africa will be the last great stand in this Long War, where all those impossibly straight borders once d rawn by colonial masters will inevitably be made squiggly again by globalization’s cultural reformatting process. Now this fight heads south…and yes, the Long War will be even uglier there”. Barnett contends.
If that scenario was not frightening enough, there are few others that are even scarier. A scenario where an ambitious general from the same military institution and with some popularity would stage another coup, which is common in Africa, the Arab world and
Third World countries, turning Egypt into a God -knows-what regime. Would that general follow the steps of Sudanese generals and ally himself with the Muslim radical groups i. d. the Ikhwan, Gama’a Islamia, Hamas, Hizbollah, etc? Would Egypt witness
another Khomeini st yle revolution fueled by the Ikhwan where the clergy take over with the usual anti- American and anti-Semitic rhetoric? Taking into consideration the recent rise of Hamas in Palestinian territories and Ikhwan in Egypt in the latest elections, this is not a farfetched scenario.
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 style revolution? The country would then erupt into lawlessness, chaos, or perhaps civil war with the dissolving of the central government, its figures and its upper class, already preparing for such a turn of events. Their money is secured in Western capitals. Rats do indeed leave a sinking ship.
Whatever the scenario, spillover from what coul d occur in Egypt in the near future would impact the sum of Arab, Muslim and Mid Eastern nations. With America already engaged in an Iraqi quagmire, possibly for years to come, and with another foot in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories boiling with rage and Hamas taking control, Hezbollah becoming belligerent in Southern Lebanon and gaining popularity – backed by two ultra-zealous nationalistic regimes; the Ba’athists in Damascus and the Mullahs in Tehran, who would all agree on one thing: hatred for America and the West; the un-certainty and anxiety grows among people of the region.
Just south of Egypt lies another unfriendly neighbor. Sudan’s government, with its generals, clerics, and fundamentalists taking over in Somalia, brings more bad news to policymakers in Western capitals, stockholders in major global corporations, and the average citizens and consumers who have to pay the price with every Middle East crisis.
Western capitals and observers in the region are keeping tabs on the situation in Egypt, fearing a domino effect in case of a trigger event occurring in Egypt. But none could give an answer to what would be the way out of that bottleneck? Inspired by their fatalism, Egyptians have developed an attitude of coping with the situation, which leads to more apathy and a state of hopelessness waiting for a divine intervention. Their government continues to give promises of reform knowing that giving up absolute power and opening the door for free speech and elections would hasten its demise. The military institution is on the guard and waiting to intervene. The banned Ikhwan movement has been gaining momentum amid its claim that Islam is the solution.
No one has offered a vision of hope for the Egyptians. The average Egyptian citizen finds himself/herself in a ‘we’re-stuck’ situation. This situation manifested itself in an angry, restless, anxious and irrational behavi or that reflected on Egyptian society witnessing a high wave of violent crimes: such as rape, murder of spouses, parents and children, a high rate of divorce, drug use, white collar crimes, road rage, embezzlement, military service desertion, domestic violence and countless other crimes. This is why whatever unfolds on the Egyptian landscape; will be a story of monumental proportions.
About the Author
Born, raised and educated in Egypt, lecturer and writer Aladdin Elaasar is one of the foremost authorities on Egypt and the Arab World. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State & Terrorism”; where he predicted20the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote 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 Mid East. He has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks since 1992. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a free preview of The Last Pharaoh, please click here: http://www.mobipocket.com/en/eBooks/AuthorDetails.asp?authorId=63168&authorName=Elaasar%2C+Aladdin
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Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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