The Arab Revolt
By Air Marshal (Retd.) Ayaz Ahmed Khan
Los Angeles, CA
The revolt of the Arab youth against dictatorships is like a Tsunami which has overthrown Tunisian President Zine El Abdine Ben Ali, who fled after 23 years in power and the entrenched Hosni Mubarak who was forced out after 30 years. Mubarak had silenced the opposition, but his network of oppression collapsed in mere eighteen days. The youth revolution ended his 30-year fascist reign.
The 85 million Egyptians have awakened the 350 million Arab world. The pent up rage of a disillusioned younger generation exploded in millions strong protests, overwhelming the Gestapo-police state, and the military had no choice but to tell Mubarak to leave. The thirty years of tyranny and corruption of President Hosni Mubarak has come to an end. But the motivated mob is leaderless.
Despite millions strong protests, Mubarak tried to cling to power by offering deals, but was forced to hand over power to the military command council. He tried to stall, with promise to hold elections in September. But the millions of demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo demanded his immediate exit, and forced him to flee on the morning of Friday- February 11, 2011. The peoples revolt was a great victory for the resilience and courage of the Egyptians, who exploded into jubilation on hearing that Mubarak had left the palace and gone to Sharmal-Shiekh. For eighteen days millions of Egyptians in Tahrir Square and all across Egypt kept chanting Allah-ho-Akbar. God heard them and has showered His mercy and blessing on the 85 million Egyptians.
After the Tunisian uprising, the revolt against Mubarak occurred very quickly. As mass protests intensified, Mubarak maneuvered and appointed Omar Sulaiman, his spy chief, and close confidant as Vice President. But it was too little and too late. The Egyptians wanted him out, and many chanted death for Mubarak. To express their rage and contempt millions took off their shoes, and waved them at Mubarak, as an expression of hatred.
In January 2011 Egyptians took to the streets to change a system that had denied them basic rights and justice. The cruel and corrupt regime had caused “pauperization and marginalization of ordinary Egyptians.”
Five important developments combined to mark the beginning of the end of the Mubarak era. The peoples revolt started from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. On Thursday February 10, Hosni Mubarak addressed the Egyptian nation for the second time in two weeks. A huge crowd of three million people had gathered in Tahrir Square to hear the despised president say that he would step down. But he said that he had delegated presidential powers to Vice President Omar Sulaiman. Mubarak promised that elections will be held and he will leave in September 2011, when his sixth five-year term would end. As master of the art of rigging elections, Mubarak obtained 98% votes in four presidential elections. In the last one he got 81%. He neutralized the political opposition. As a gesture, Mubarak promised not to be a presidential candidate for the sixth time. With millions of Egyptians chanting death to Mubarak, the defiant president refused to see the writing on the wall. He tried to be a cliff hangar, but it did not work. He has preferred to die and be buried in the Egyptian soil.
Five important developments combined to mark the beginning of the end of the Mubarak era. The first one started on the streets of Cairo, with gatherings of millions in Tahrir Square. Similar scenes occurred in port cities of Alexandria, Suez and other cities, making them a national revolt. Protestors burnt down police stations, defied curfew, and fought back when Mubarak’s thugs attacked them. Police disappeared and the Army made it clear that it will maintain public order and protect state property. The Army refused to shoot at the citizens. It became clear that the Army will not allow police brutality, or mob anarchy.
The second significant development was the appointment of the hated Omar Sulaiman as Vice President, a slot kept vacant for 30 years. It was a clear signal that Mubarak’s days were numbered.
The third development was an announcement by the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament admitting institutional illegitimacy and accepting that the last election in which the ruling NDP - the ruling National Democratic Party - took 81% of the seats, was rigged. This was a stunning admission of wrongdoing, with the protestors shouting death to Mubarak.
The fourth important event was the announcement last Sunday, by Egyptian judges association, that they support the demands of the demonstrators.
The fifth development was the demand for immediate restoration of democracy by the major opposition parties and movements, who formed that National Coalition for change, and appointed Mohammad ElBaradei to negotiate transition to representative and democratic rule. Hosni Mubarak rejected the demand. The Muslim Brotherhood has agreed to work with the secular parties and NGOs to ensure Mubarak’s exit. The new Coalition headed by ElBaradei is important, because it negates the mischief that the demonstrators are leaderless. George Ishak the Opposition leader has confidently stated, “We will now show the world how we will build real democracy in Egypt”.
With the 1.5 million strong Armed Forces of Egypt , one of the largest in the world (ranked 10th),consisting of the Egyptian Army, Egyptian Navy, Egyptian Air Force and Egyptian Air Defense Command moving in, skeptics think that they may not move out easily and quickly. The military leaders, generals, air marshals and admirals were appointed by Hosni Mubarak. But they must act with great responsibility, hold elections, and hand over power to the elected representatives. They will make a huge mistake if they waver and try to hoodwink or cheat the agitated and confident millions.