Flickr Photo By orisinal
It had to be expected long ago, and it had to have happened years ago. To conclude the case of 30 years of Mubarak autocracy in one sentence, I should say simply the following: the Egyptians did not deserve this fate.
Speaking with an Egyptian friend a few years ago, I opposed his idea that the country was a political dictatorship; I specified that Egypt was a social "dictatorship', and this is actually all that the successive Mubarak administrations systematically implemented. But it was futile; it would end one day or another, without leaving any positive memories.
1. Stability - at what cost?
The entire problem originates from just one word. Understanding this word, under the terms it was perceived by the local rulers and socio-economic elite, one can realize why an empty, undeserved, three (3) decades long period happened to Egypt.
Ibrahim Nafie, former banker peremptorily appointed atop of the venerated Al Ahram newspaper -" a socio-political institution of Egypt -" used the key word in one of his interviews that was published years ago. Speaking of the Egyptian president, Ibrahim Nafie specified:
- Mubarak is Mister Stability.
The assessment was very accurate and absolutely correct; the policy was calamitous. Stability at any price can never bring forth positive results.
President Mubarak lived as vice-president of Egypt the dramatic events of President Anwar al Sadat's assassination; when his president was standing, being shot, Vice-president Mubarak and the rest were flat on the ground, hidden by the chairs, in an effort to survive. This attitude prevailed for 30 years with Mubarak's advent to the Egyptian presidency. This clearly means that it was a regime of fear. National parades were therefore cancelled to make sure that the predecessor's fate would not fall on the successor! That was mean and miserable, reflecting a counterfeit Egypt that could not be accepted by the quasi-totality of the Egyptian people.
2. Autocrats afraid of losing power and ready to compromise
Usually, the term "regime of fear' designates a grave totalitarian authority. It means fear imposed by the political authority over the entire society; quite contrarily to that, in the case of Mubarak's Egypt, the fear prevailed among the top political authority itself. This produced a particularity; the "regime' did not properly "rule' as per their ideas, theories, ideologies and political - economic choices, but out of fear of losing the power.
With all my personal experience in Greece (in the 60s and the 70s), Turkey (in the 80s and 90s) and Egypt (in the 90s and the 2000s), if I compare the Mubarak autocracy with either General Kenan Evren's despotism in Turkey in the early 80s (before the politicization brought about by Premier Turgut Ozal) or Colonel George Papadopoulos' and Lieutenant Dimitrios Ioannides' dictatorship in Greece between 1967 -" 1974 (before the return of Constantine Caramanlis and the re-instauration of parliamentarian life), I find the terminating Egyptian regime less totalitarian than the Turkish and Greek examples.
In Turkey and Greece, the said regimes imposed ideas, ideologies, concepts of life, and world conceptions on the entire populations. In Egypt, the Mubarak regime made it possible for the socio-economic elite to live as per Western standards (in striking contradiction with the beliefs and the convictions of the outright majority of the Egyptian people), and simply put in jail those who with action or flagrant public speech threatened the continuation of the said social order.
As it can be surmised through the lines of the above paragraph, one cannot fairly describe such a regime as a real dictatorship. Acting in the aforementioned manner, the Mubarak administration made many concessions to the society and the political opponents. More the time passed more concessions were made. At the end, the political opponents were merely asked to speak free and criticize everything, sparing only the President's family.
As the time passed, the systematic loosening of the public order became evident; Egyptians started showing their opposition not at the political level but in their daily lives. It became normal to drive in the opposite lane and face no consequence! Few perceived this as a real threat for the country, because the political opposition parties and leaders were concerned with the possible ways to corner Mubarak at the political level, and the Mubarak administration cared only to prolong the socio-political status through more compromises.