Egypt burning

Mathew Novian


To say the least, the current situation in Egypt is “bloody,” as described by a protestor and my family friend, Dina H.

Here is an excerpt from an e-mail she sent February 2: “Molotov cocktails are being thrown at the protesters. Tahrir square is turning into a blood bath. One of our friends was caught in the middle of Tahrir. The ‘pro-Mubarak’ supporters had closed off all exit points to the square (Thank God he has since been able to escape.) There are reports that many of the ‘pro-Mubarak’ supporters were paid to attack the demonstrators, many if not all of them are actually from the secret service. These attacks are clearly being perpetuated by Mubarak’s regime.”

The Middle East is the modern day powder keg. The Iranian protests in the spring of 2009 were a precursor for these events, but with the media’s fixation on Michael Jackson’s death that summer, Iran lost the limelight and Ahmadinejad was able to regain control in Jackson’s shadow. Distress and entropy in the Middle East did not suddenly surface this week. Regional countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, and Algeria have been ruled by unsavory leaders for years, and it took one push in Tunisia to ignite the entire Middle East in a storm of dissent.

The most media coverage has been in Egypt, where the citizens are rioting for an end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime. In attempts to appease his people, Mubarak has reshuffled his cabinet, and addressed his people vowing not to re-run for the presidency in September. His recent appointment of vice president Omar Suleima was a move that did not utterly displease his countrymen.

“This gave a certain amount of hope as he [Suleima] is generally respected and people would accept him as the leader of a transitional government.” Dina said.

But, there is also speculation that the Muslim Brotherhood will rise to power when Mubarak phases out, an organization preaching, “Islam is the answer.” The Brotherhood also believes that the 1979 peace treaty with Israel should be revoked, a treaty that includes billions in funding from America to the Egyptian and Israeli governments. A breach in that treaty could cause complications for the US, Israel, and Egypt. The United States is currently holding Mubarak to the treaty, demanding that he steps down or else risk the chance of losing America’s allegiance. These are terms Mubarak is familiar with, seeing as he was vice president when the accords were signed.

Israel and Egypt are close allies, and if Mubarak steps down, Israel will be caught smack dab in the center of the powder keg. Hezbollah, an Iranian-supported organization that waged war against Israel in 2006, is on the rise in Lebanon. The new Lebanese Prime Minister is supported by this terrorist organization. If worse comes to worst, Israel could be fighting a two-front war. A stipulation in the 1979 treaty was Israel’s return of the Sinai to Egypt, then an occupied territory. So I ponder, if the Muslim Brotherhood rises to power will Israel retake the Sinai? Will America stop allocating funds to one of their strongest Arab Middle Eastern allies?

This volatile situation gives the fundamentalists the opportunity to capitalize on turmoil in the streets. In the streets of Egypt, calls of “Jihad” have been heard. Egypt’s future is hanging in the balance. The uncertainty of the nation’s future came through in Dina’s e-mail as she too pondered Egypt’s safety.

“This is a very sad day for Egypt.” She wrote. “Throughout the week, many people felt the need to leave the country for safety reasons. I felt the need to stay and show support… Now, I don’t know what will happen next. I feel truly betrayed. Who will save us?”