On Friday Egyptian activists are calling for a second revolution and will take to the streets en mass*, to continue the demands they initially came out with on Jan25th. Although Mubarak was overthrown, the army has resumed many of the same highly undemocratic practices of the old regime, including detaining and torturing people, including many bloggers and activists without trial. There are also said to be up to 10,000 civilians being unjustly tried by military tribunals (for specific demands of the organizers, see: http://www.tweetdeck.com/twitter/franyafranya/~64Tnh). The clear message being sent by the military council who is in control during this ‘transition period’, signals to those who sacrificed so much, that fundamentally little has changed.
There is however a significant split amongst many Egyptians who supported the revolution but feel that because of their exceptional behavior during the revolution – specifically not shooting at the protesters, the army are friends of the people. These Egyptians believe that the army council may be problematic but the army itself has enough on its hands and does not have the capacity to deal with additional protests and demands. We can call them the camp of Egypt first. Egypt Firsters believe that we should not go out on Friday, because due to this period of political instability the time is not right to challenge the authorities. They believe that first Egyptians need to build up the country economically, and focus on elections and say that the army is doing the best they can as the temporary authorities. They also believe that it is critical to stabilize the country in order to invite investments from the public sector and abroad to build up the country economically. But mainly they say, that because lack of stable system in place, it is not the time to challenge them.
Along the same vein, many from the party of Egypt First generally hold the sentiment that they are for Palestine 100%, but before Egypt “helps” Palestine, they must be strong as a country and able to take on the issue of Palestinian rights. This sounds completely understandable and reasonable at face value. However, when you think about the logic and underlying premise behind this, it makes less sense. For example, when you look at history and and the revolution/military coup that brought Mubarak (who came from within the ranks of the military) to power over 30 years ago, it was through largely the same process. Therefore this seems very much like history repeating itself, as well as underscores the importance of learning from history. Plus “stability” based on political appeasement of the US and Israel, is what created Egypt’s dependence on the West and put the Egyptian people’s interests and needs, last. And now, even though they know they will never get anyone nearly as friendly as Mubarak, the US is funding and propping up the army in many of the same ways, by dangling economic aid and ‘loan forgiveness’ to entice them, during this highly desperate economic time.
Finally, the premise that Egypt needs to be strong first before defending Palestinian rights is highly problematic. Palestinians do not want or need Egypt to save them! Palestinians simply want the end of the support of the illegal, immoral, inhumane siege and sanctions, and Egypt (and the rest of the Arab puppet leaders) role in upholding it. Palestinians have the strength, intelligence and ability to rebuild their country themselves and don’t need anyone to save them. What they do need is their Egyptian brothers and sisters to work with them hand and hand, especially given that both theirs are the SAME struggle – against foreign intervention and dictating interests.
At the end of the day Egyptians, Palestinians and those in the region have the same desires and hopes – freedom to put their interests first and independence from Western domination. Those who want to support these movements, should do so based on steps that will lead to economic independence, which will lead to real stability, rather than impending foreign interests/investor stability. We can do so by supporting economic development for the region and trade with its neighbors, providing for the needs of the explosion of young and poor, as well as the educated and skilled labor unions and political parties, who are working hard to organize themselves after decades of dictator imposed “stability”. Therefore perhaps unity – something hopefully we can all agree on, should be the real goal, rather than ‘stability’.
Peace with justice.
*Egyptian activists call for 2nd Day of Rage 5.27: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-22/egypt-groups-call-for-second-round-of-rage-on-lack-of-change.html