25 January 2011
They do not belong to a political party, they do not follow a particular ideology, they make an appointment on Facebook, an appointment we all laughed about, telling them you cannot have a revolution like you have a blind date, but today in tens of thousands they came. . . . They took the streets of Cairo by surprise. They took us all by surprise. Not one of us really believed this would happen.*
For years we were indoctrinated that Egypt is the heart of the Arab nation and that we will not rise up until Egypt does. Then, after the victory against Israel in 2006 and the glorious Tunisian revolution, we became all convinced that this is not necessary, that we can do it without Egypt. I still think we can do it without Egypt, but, if Egypt is free, then we will all become free so much faster.
Hilary Clinton said today that she trusts the Egyptian leadership is doing the best for its people. This is a clear signal that the Americans will not forsake Mubarak that easily. How could they when the man is even prepared to besiege Gaza for them while keeping the biggest Arab country with all its resources in check?
The Americans are trying to intervene in Tunisia, too, with Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman (the man we know all too well in Lebanon) visiting. This is a bad omen as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said today, but in my opinion it is also a sign of nervousness. The Americans may have the army card to play in Tunisia in case the government falls, but can the army control the revolution now? I think not. The army had a chance to depose Ben Ali by itself, but it missed it, and that chance is gone for good.
In Lebanon, the opposition led by Hizbullah and its allies managed to build a parliamentarian majority to form a new government. All by the book and by the constitution. The Americans did all they could to prevent this, even bribing and pressuring MPs to gather more votes for their stooge Saad Hariri, but they failed. Immediately thereafter, thugs of Hariri’s party took to the streets and blocked roads, burning tires in a desperate attempt to put pressure on the new government, but all in vain . . . another blow against the Empire.
Ben Ali fell, Hariri fell, and now Mubarak? One thing is sure: Egypt is answering Tunisia. One Arab people, and it is awakening.
* The demonstrators in Egypt are young, middle-class, and determined to accomplish change. People of the opposition are trying to jump on the bandwagon of the youth movement, but it is clear that the movement is autonomous. The regime is hoping that this is just a trendy expression of a generation wanting to reenact a kind of May 68 . . . marking its presence, having its say. But already two people died in Suez. . . .
Dyab Abou Jahjah is founder and former president of the Arab European League. Cf. “A day after tens of thousands of people marched in opposition to the nearly 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian authorities on Wednesday outlawed any new gatherings, saying protesters faced ‘immediate’ arrest. The government made the announcement as protesters using social networking sites urged a second day of street demonstrations. The protest ban showed the extent to which the government had been rattled by the scale of the unusually large demonstrations” (Kareem Fahim and Mona el-Naggar, “After Day of Protests, Egypt Bans Demonstrations,” New York Times, 26 January 2011).