By Jerry Okungu
November 22, 2011
So Tahir Square Phase Two is finally under way! For Egyptians who had lived under military rulers masquerading as civilian presidents finally got the hint. That soldiers had taken them for a ride since Abdel Nasser’s days. That since the 1950s when the British departed, the three presidents they have ever known; Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak were all soldiers in civilian clothes. Now they know better. They have realized that their might as a people would defy any military might that may be ranged against them.
Let us phase it. Since 1948 when the Israeli state was founded under a barrage of guns and mortar from the Arab nations, Egypt’s position as the Middle East Arab military super power was unassailable. Because of its role in championing the cause of Palestinian Arabs and power to confront Israel militarily made the rest of the Arab world to contribute resources to sustain its economy. Being a desert country with no oil to sustain its economy, it had to perpetuate the myth of its military power to continue receiving support from the Arab world as it exerted more authoritarian rule over its subjects back home.
This myth had to be dispelled in the 1967 Six Day Arab Israeli war that saw Egyptian military might destroyed in less than a week. The defeat by tiny Israeli forces was so humiliating that in a matter of days Abdel Nasser, the man who had promised the world that he would wipe out Israel from the face the earth had to suddenly die. Whether he committed suicide or died of shock at this defeat, the world will never know.
When Nasser died, Anwar Sadat, another military strong man had to take over the reins of power. Sadat is more famous for signing the Camp David Peace Accord between Egypt and Israel during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. This development followed another war- the 1973-74 war against Israel in which there was no clear winner.
The signing of the Peace Accord with Israel in 1979 did not go well with Islamic fundamentalists in the Arab world. To them, Anwar Sadat had betrayed the Palestinian and therefore the entire Arab cause. From then on, Sadat was a marked man. Two years later, he was assassinated during a military parade in the center of Cairo. This was the event that ushered in Hosni Mubarak as the next military strong man. Mubarak had to rule Egypt for 30 years until he was deposed by people power during the Arab spring of 2011.
The reason why the current Tahir Square riots are awake-up call for dictators in the Arab and the African world is because Egyptians tasting freedom and realizing the power of the masses are behaving like the lion that has tasted blood.
If the Egyptian military thought the Tahir Square riots in spring were targeting Hosni Mubarak; they were dead wrong. If they thought that Egyptians would go to sleep and let soldiers continue with business as usual; they were gravely mistaken. Their single objective was to expand the democratic process and never again would they cow down to military might.
As I wrote this article, at least 40 Egyptians had lost their lives due to military actions against civilians yet this tragic development has not cowed the protests that have now escalated to Alexandria, the Suez and other major cities in Egypt.
What is happening in Egypt should be a warning to the remaining imperial, royal, civilian or military dictators wherever they may be because the world has truly changed. With events in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria taking place so soon and in quick succession; they are stark reminders that the die is cast for authoritarianism. The world can no longer tolerate kleptocratic governance styles of Pinochet of Chile, Abacha of Nigeria Mengitsu of Ethiopia, Siad Barre of Somalia and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Any dictator that still thinks it will be business as usual must think again. The Arab Spring uprising has awoken world citizens’ conscience wherever they may be.
With riots going on in Greece, Italy and the United Sates over the cost of living; with poor Americans rising up against wealthy economic dictators of Wall Street; it is no longer possible for kings, queens and emperors to sleep soundly while the wretched of the earth toil and sleep under the vagaries of nature’s elements.
If you want to know that the privileged are afraid; see how the wealthiest of Americans are pleading with the Obama administration to tax them more. They are doing this to avoid being targeted by Wall Street protesters, the mob that says they constitute 99% of America’s poor population against the 1% of America’s affluent society.
Whichever way you look at it, dictatorship and exploitation of the masses, whether by military force or the rich and powerful amount to the same thing; eventual resistance and uprising by the oppressed people. If it can happen in New York’s Wall Street, Los Angeles, Tahir Square, Tunis and in the streets of Libya and Damascus, it can happen to us too!