The Egypt Uprising

Sheer People Democracy in action !

That’s what we are seeing in Egypt for the past 10 days. It is nothing short of a revolution.

The Egyptian people revolution follows immediately on the heels of the Tunisian revolution when that country’s president was booted out by an angry population.

But do I think that it will succeed in Egypt, or other Arab countries ?

I doubt it will happen so quickly. While I may not agree with the dictatorial regime in Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak is right when he stated that his country would get into utter chaos if he were to quit today. We are talking here about the clash of an ancient civilization and a modernistic mob democracy. I am in no way justifying his statement or supporting anyone. But for a neutral observer from outside Egypt, it is rather obvious that the country cannot be allowed to slip into chaos because of its critical importance in maintaining Arab-Israeli peace.

Egypt could be termed as a “U.S. ally”, and is the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the Middle East (for an Arab country). Egypt learned to live in peace with Israel for a long time now. What would happen to that peace if the current government were to be booted out ?

It is very important for Egyptians to select their own form of government, no doubt. I support democracy, though I have recently written about the need for qualifying a democracy. Corruption is there in all forms of government and is more effective in a democracy as we can see from recent happenings.

However, mob-driven regime change has its own strong pitfalls. Decisions made with emotions are not going to be effective and could have rather serious impact and repercussions on the future of Egypt. Do we want to have another unstable democracy or country in the rather fragile Middle East ? People have to think carefully.

My suggestion would be to enter into an active negotiation with the current government under a U.N. mandate and help in achieving the change of government while maintaining social stability. Egypt is losing business of USD 310M per day according to TV news reports that I saw yesterday. It is a poor country, with over 50% of the population earning less than USD 2 per day. Political negotiation should be undertaken by the leaders of the people, and Mr ElBaradei could assume the leadership on the negotiating table, as he enjoys credibility amongst Egyptians and on the world scene, having served for long in the IAEA.

The French-type people revolution is out of date and could not be applied in Eastern cultures. I have friends who are going to disagree rather strongly against such a sweeping assertion, but this is my view. We have to take one step at a time, and a dialogue process is always better than rocks, stones, molotov cocktails, clubs and swords.

Hope Egyptians will be able to resolve their problem by themselves without external interference, and allow the world to breathe easier soon.


Vijay Srinivasan
5th February 2011


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