21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories
Dreamscapes Two
More Original Fiction



The International Writers Magazine:Egypt and Political Change

Middle East Dominoes
Marwan Asmar
It’s might be a special Middle East Domino, pieces that fall one by one, all rigidly American and western allies, that have long been nurtured into a special relationship based on mutual interests. However, it might be too simplistic to believe that falls are inevitable, however, changes in the political map of the Middle East are imminent and 2011 could well be remembered as the year of political hurricanes.  


The impending Sudanese split between north and south into two states is turning out to be miniscule compared to the regime removal in Tunisia of Zain Alabidine Ben Ali. Egypt is about to follow next in the domino game with the current regime facing increasing pressure to leave, with calls for President Husni Mubarak to abdicate from office.  
The United States and Europe previously in disbelief, later apprehension, are now in sober acceptance that their long-term ally Husni Mubarak is on shaky grounds and that his position as president is no longer tenable. As they did in the past, they don't want to continue to back the wrong horse as they did with the Shah in Iran in the face of the mass demonstrations that finally lead to his downfall in 1978.

As repeated by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama himself there must be an "orderly transition"  and the establishment of a real democratic system in Egypt and such must may be made “quickly” and not in September 2011, a reference to what Mubarak early said about not fighting presidential elections set for that month.

Everyone is bracing themselves for the second piece of the domino to fall and appear to be accepting it well in the light of the dramatic strategic changes that could follow in a post-Mubarak era.

Also, Obama is appearing to be giving up so quickly on an American erstwhile ally who has far outstayed his welcome in office in spite of the converging of interests over the decades since 1981 when Mubarak first took office.

The US president might be hoping that if he sides with the Egyptian people now, the United States can still salvage some of her relations in a post-Mubarak scenario, given her traditional social, political and economic relations with the regime. It is now time to switch sides.
In reality the Egyptian uprising so-called, crisis or revolution, is creating a global strategic situation with many of the world powers holding their breath because of the far-reaching consequences a post-Mubarak Egypt would have on the  political and security dimensions, alliances and blocs on the local, regional and international levels.

Locally nationalists, liberals, leftists and Islamists could be in-line for the formation of the next government in Egypt under a post-Mubarak administration that would involve the first time free elections rather than fixtures, fixing, and manipulations of the system and ballot boxes. This would be in spite of the fact Americans, Europeans and Israelis are not making it a secret about fearing a government dominated by Islamists, which would certainly have an effect on the geo-strategic relations of the area.

But the revolution taking place, the protests, demonstrations and rallies, are being lead by young people, internet buffs, experts at online connectivity who have been quickly joined by the middle classes and professionals.

It is not being seen as an uprising lead by political parties and political movements those that have existed in one way or another under this regime like the Wafd and the Muslim Brotherhoods who have build a mass following despite being made illegal in the 1950s.  

 On the regional level, a new administration could very well alter the traditional regional alliances and interests. Egypt has long been seen within the Saudi Arabia-Jordan axis, and under a new government it might tilt towards Syria, that is if indeed rule there remains within the confines of the Baath political party.  The coming period is fluid, murky, and probably very unstable where conjectural analysis is difficult to make.

What is being said is that the regime is fighting its last breath trying to make concessions, but trying to stay in power through extending its hands to the opposition. Mubarak, has for instance appointed a first ever first vice president in tough security chief Omar Sulieman to try and establish a dialogue with the opposition.

On the international level, and in a post-system change, there could certainly be more room for the return of Russia into the Middle East orbit, harking back to the old days of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s when the then Soviet Union had a strong presence in Egypt. The Egyptian door could become more ajar to China as a new and potential ally, no doubt as a business and economic market, and even as a sphere of political influence.  However, China is still not rocking the boat too much, trying to shield its own population from seeing the mass demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square and other Egyptian cities lest their own would start demanding change.

Israel is worried because of the potential loss of a strategic partner in Husni Mubarak. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is in deep tension. As far as Israel is concerned, and despite the fact that there exists at best a frosty normalization between the two countries, Cairo is at present, neutralized through the peace treaty signed between the two countries in 1979. Under a new Egyptian domino fall, such cold relations could hot up again because ordinary Egyptians have never accepted normalization with Israel.  

The rest of the Arab world is in a flux of excitement and trepidation, there is a new sense of political change from its western shores of Africa to the Arabian Gulf where everyone is watching, meditating, speculating whether a New Middle Eastern order is being built. To dampen the impact, Kuwait for instance recently paid each of its citizens, young and old, 1000 Kuwait Dinars (around $3000) in token of their appreciation to them in a farfetched scenario that Kuwaitis might rise against their political system.

But the people of Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and Syria have not been so lucky, taking the brunt of international hikes on their local economies, resulting in soaring prices, and high unemployment. Many have been lending muted support, even pleasure with many albeit outside the region asking which piece of the domino would fall next in the Middle East.

It is argued all of the initial four could be candidates for the next political upheaval and problems as they all experienced demonstrations and mass rallies in protest at raising food prices, and low wages in their home countries.

For some reason however, international commentators are putting their bets in Jordan to fall despite its globalized nature, political pluralism and parliamentary representation. The monarch, King Abdullah has finally heeded calls led by the opposition and the Islamic Action Front and removed Prime Minister Samir Al Rifai and his government.  
However, the opposition, have stressed that their call for political reform does not, in no way, mean regime change as it is the case in Egypt. There demonstrations have started from the hundreds of thousands to around a million in one day, and with levels of violence coming from pro-Mubarak demonstrators who are feared to be government agents sent on the streets.

It is from seeing these demonstrators from afar that prompted Yemeni President to come on the scene and say he will not be re-standing in the next presidential elections in 2013. He would also suspend legislation that would make him president for life and he wouldn't be grooming his son to take over, something which Mubarak was doing with his son Jamal from as early as 1999.

Judging from the level of demonstrations that have been taking place in Yemen almost on a daily basis—one estimated at 5000 in the capital Sanaa—and those in the country. Saleh may have offered his last statement as a token in hope the public would not step up pressure against him and back off from demand for his removal being openly made on the streets.

In between choosing Jordan and Yemen, it should be plain to see it is the latter that is expected as the next domino piece to fall because of level opposition the Yemeni president is facing internally, and from the Houthi sect in the north of the country. Their demands lie between a complete split from the Yemeni state to greater equality with their other Yemeni brethrens and the rest of the country.

For the United States, it’s simply a strategic equation. Although, and it is no doubt, Yemen has been important in fighting Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaada, and has strategic worth on the Red Sea, the priorities have always been to the geographical north. It is to Saudi Arabia and Jordan with the latter serving a very important part of the link and domino as bulwark against radicalism in the midst of Israel to the east, the Palestinians, Hizbollah and Syria further to the north as well as bloody, chaotic Iraq to the east.

Literally overnight, the Arab world has become nightmare scenario for the American administration, and that is maybe why they are paying particular attention to Jordan, a traditional all of the West and the United States, and who like Egypt, has been buttressed with much American aid.

And so, Jordan is definitely not a kingdom that is seen as an entity going to fall because of its geography, politics, stability and security, and the United States will make sure it will not fall or be nowhere near in falling because of the unique nature of its strategic role in the region.
As well, and on the contrary, if Egypt does fall, the United States would likely double its efforts to make sure Jordan will remain stable and secure. Any other way would mean American policy has failed miserably in the region and that would shatter the image of its hegemony in the global system, and give rise to the reemergence of multipolarity as opposed to its current unipolar dominance gained since the end of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's

© Marwan Asmar Feb 4th 2011
Game over Mubarak
Marwan Asmar

It’s a social phantasmal, spectral war, not between the people vis-à-vis the police or army, but between the street on the one hand  and the one-party regime

Share |
More Reviews


© Hackwriters 1999-2011 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.