Power to the people

Millions of Egyptians are protesting on the streets against the tyrannical Mubarak regime. Despite all this, President Hosni Mubarak is being his usual stubborn self — a trademark of all dictators who refuse to see the writing on the wall. What is heartening though is how the Egyptian army is handling the precarious situation. It has refused to ‘crush’ the protests and vowed not to use force against the people. In a statement released on January 31, the Egyptian army stressed that it is “aware of the legitimate demands of the honourable citizens” and that the “presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people”. If the army is not willing to put down the uprising and lets it continue peacefully, surely it means that the people of Egypt have won.The protests in Egypt were so far leaderless but now Nobel Laureate and former Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, is emerging as the new face of this resistance movement. Both the secularists and the Islamists have tactically agreed on this issue. Mr ElBaradei has asked the US administration not to support the Mubarak regime. He said, “The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years will be the one to implement democracy.” The US administration is also distancing itself from Hosni Mubarak and getting ready for a transition. The US gives around $ 1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt apart from hundreds of millions of dollars for the state. Recent events have forced the White House to review its aid policy, which may be why Egypt’s military chief, Lieutenant General Sami Enan, who was on a visit to Washington last week, cut short his visit to return to his country. Egypt is an important ally of both the US and Israel. Peace in Egypt is essential for policing Gaza’s border on the Egyptian side. It seems that the Egyptian armed forces have understood the signal from the US and have decided therefore to refrain from using military might against the protestors. Mubarak has no hope left: his people want him gone, he has tacitly been dumped by his biggest backers in the international arena, and his own army has also sent him a loud and clear message, i.e. to exit peacefully because it is untenable to save him any longer. It is time for Mr Mubarak to go.

The protests in Egypt have taken the Arab world by storm. What began in Tunisia will likely not end in Egypt; the tremors are now being felt in Jordan as well where King Abdullah has dismissed the Jordanian cabinet and appointed a new prime minister after thousands of protestors demanded Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s resignation and an end to unemployment and rising prices. What King Abdullah does not understand is that a change in cabinet is not the answer to the woes of the Jordanian people. Political reforms in the Arab world would mean an end to monarchy and authoritarian regimes. Today the Arab people are standing up for their rights; they want democracy, freedom of speech and basic human rights. It is about time that they get what they have long been denied. More power to the people of the Arab world – Dailytimes