Obama should stay clear from Mubarak’s final sins

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After treading cautiously for several days, Hosni Mubarak came out today swinging. In a televised address on the Egyptian Television, Mubarak promised political reform and an official investigation of widespread corruption, and he insisted to do that himself with the help of the same people who are responsible for harboring corruption in the first place.

To add insult to injury, the Egyptian dictator placed the blame for the current turmoil and political uncertainty squarely on the shoulders of the Egyptian people who took to the streets in revolt after putting up with him and his cronies for 30 years. “These demonstrations,” he insisted, “moved from a civilized expression of practicing freedom of speech to sad confrontations which were organized by political groups who wanted to throw fire on the oil and to threaten the stability, and provoke, and create looting and destruction and fires, and to block roads, and to attack national possessions and public and private possessions, and attacks on some diplomatic missions on Egypt.”

Never mind that the dead and injured (estimated to exceed 100 and 1300 respectively) came out of the ranks of the peaceful and unarmed protesters, who demanded an end of the era of emergency law, rigged elections, and rampant corruption; and never mind that the security forces who were evidently authorized to use live ammunition are implicated in much of the killing and thuggery; Mubarak still accused, with a straight face, the victims of his regime with the crimes committed by his security forces in a statement that was intended to frighten and intimidate.

It was evident that the aging dictator has learned nothing from the popular uprising in which millions of Egyptians rallied to demand his resignation, the end for his unscrupulous rule, and the beginning of democratic governance based on the rule of law. “The events of the last few days forced us all, as people and as a leadership,” he proclaimed, “to choose between chaos and stability.” From Mubarak’s vantage point the drive to freedom by millions of Egyptian is simply a drive to chaos, and the repression of the regime he represents, which has for decades demanded a complete quiet, is the face of stability. Clearly, what the Egyptian people see as a choice between freedom and dictatorship, appears to Mubarak as a choice between “chaos and stability.”

It should not, therefore, surprise anyone if the picture of what has been going on in Egypt is distorted in the mind of Mubarak beyond recognition. A person who has the audacity to claim that he has never cared about power or the office of presidency, even after working for 30 years to ensure that he would continue run unopposed, and  even after resisting all demands to appoint a vice president to replace him, is a person with shame. He is either in a state of denial or is hoping to be able to deceive the people who suffered under his corrupt rule. Either way he should never be given more time in office to undermine a powerful and effective revolution and to reverse the great gains achieved by the Egyptian people.

One thing was quite clear. Mubarak decided to take a last stand at the expense of prolonging the suffering of his people, and potentially throwing the country and whole region into a great chaos. “I am also a man of the army,” who reminded his people, “and it is not in my nature to give up responsibility.”

President Obama should follow the lead of Senator John Kerry who demanded, in an op-ed published by the New York Times, that Mubarak steps down. Calling on the dictator of Egypt leave his office peacefully would not only save more lives, and would help distance the US from the final sins of a withering autocrat.

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