Escalation in Egypt

The nightmare in Egypt is escalating.  My fears are deepening as well.

The government is trying to control the situation to their advantage by advancing inhumane tactics, as if the 30-year rule of Mubarak wasn’t inhumane enough.  The food supply has dwindled to a trickle.  Due to looters and thugs, some believe to be fronted by pro-government forces, local businesses are operating at a bare minimum.  Thus, the food supply is dwindling.  Local food suppliers, such as bakeries, are producing a minimal amount of bread  for sale.  What product they do put on their shelves is gone within minutes.  The gas stations are all shut down.  The ATM machines are out-of-order.  Additionally, the government has prohibited withdrawals exceeding $10,000 from personal bank accounts.  Internet access has been cut off.  Cell phone service is no longer available, except to receive pro-government messages from the state-sponsored source.

To add insult to injury, the powers that be in Egypt are now saying that the elections that are scheduled for September might not be able to happen even then.  Over Mubarak’s thirty-year reign, there has never been a plan for succession, other than his puppet-son, Gamal.  No process was ever in place to assure a peaceful transition.  There is some truth to the contention that even greater upset will prevail if Mubarak steps down immediately; Mohamed ElBaradei, the opposition leader, hasn’t even lived in Egypt for the last year.  The authorities are not certain if and how that fact could influence the formation of a new government under ElBaradei.  The Mubarak mobsters are using this lack of foresight and planning as an excuse to delay even further a change in authority.  Mubarak said today that for him to immediately leave power would cause even greater turmoil.  I do believe that most Egyptians are willing to take that chance, no?

Perhaps the worst development is the arrests of journalists.   Nichloas Kristof, a reporter for the New York Times and currently in Cairo, has reported his alarm regarding the detainment of members of the press because of the implications.  He writes, “I worry about what it is they (the Mubarak government) are planning that they don’t want us to see.”  This is a very scary scenario, i.e. if the government forces wipe out all the witnesses, who is to say that the violence, murder and mayhem against the protesters ever took place?

No matter what President Obama and the U.S. say or do to be of assistance to the people of Egypt, they are in a no-win situation.  Israel has nothing but contempt for President Obama and his response thus far to Egypt.  Talk about tunnel vision.  On the other side, many are saying that the American head of state has not been firm enough with Mubarak.  Well, duh!  How committed can our President be to Egyptian freedom when he has no clue as to who will step in and assume power there?  President Obama is walking a very thin tightrope here.  The time is not right to throw caution to the wind.

Is it time yet for America to threaten Egypt with the suspension of the  over one billion dollars of aid per year that we give to that nation?  Probably it would be a valuable discussion to begin at this point.  However, America should not dictate to Egypt if and how they should deal with this uprising, as that strategy would be simply replacing one dictator with yet another.

The situation in Egypt is becoming more dire as the hours and days pass.  I fret and worry what will come next.  The methods the Mubarak administration is using to quell the revolution are dishonest and unjust.  Instead of beginning talks on reforms and facing the issues head-on, the government is trying to influence events by starving the people and making daily living impossible.  In this way, the government is banking on the people to cede out of desperation.  Whether the government forces capitulation to their continuing rule by means of bullets or lack of bread, their methods of quashing the demand for real freedom is illegal and inhumane.

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