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Message Sam Hamod

There are some important things that might occur in the rapidly developing Egypt situation; however here's what I think will happen...

1. Hosni Mubarak would like to stay and fight for his throne of power, but remember -- in May he will be 84 years old. He is aware that things are very shaky and, because he has a lot of money and friends outside of Egypt, he could take relatively safe refuge. However, his ego is very large and he may feel he can tough this movement out with the help of the Army. America also likes the Army for the sake of stability, and the Egyptian Army is beholden to America since as much as $1.3 billion of the $1.5 billion of American aid each year goes to the Army. Thus, we see America treading a fine line. Mubarak knows this, and he is well aware that the ball is in his court.
I think if Mubarak stays, he will lose. However, should he decide to stay and give it a big fight, he might just come through with some power intact -- still on the throne, but considerably weakened as a result of being more than ever beholden to the Army. Remember, he is intelligent, cunning, ambitious, and feels he has a duty to rule Egypt even if the people don't agree.  Mubarak may not want to be remembered as a man who fled this great battle -- to live a life in exile under the thumb of someone else. Most dictators don't last very long in exile; it doesn't suit them. Then, again, he may prefer to make this his last, great stand. I don't think he'll make it, but you can never count him out.

2. The Army could take over and settle things down in a few months, in the same way that Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Nasser took over after the ouster of King Farouk in 1952. This led to a long period of stability where there were jobs, education and social services development, with Egypt taking the lead in the Arab and Muslim world. The Army was then, and continues to be respected by the Egyptian people, and would have their backing, especially if they tell Mubarak to leave, promise to make some changes, and if they made an effort or a public display of willingness to work with some of the leading social, political and intellectual leaders of Egypt. This would also lead to continued American backing of Egypt financially and continued close ties to the American military. Egypt needs the American financial largesse; America needs a stable Egypt. If this bond is broken, the Egyptians would probably fare better than America; thus, it's in America's best interests to continue its financial aid.

On the other hand, if domestic American politics intrudes and some of those who are strong Zionists take too much of a lead in cutting funds or try to dictate to the Egyptian Army, this could be counterproductive for America. Another problem that might occur is if the Army decides to break some of its treaties with Israel and allow more transit to Palestinians into Egypt for medical and food needs, etc. But this is unlikely to happen because the Army leaders have worked closely with the American military establishment; in fact, many of these major officers were in D.C. when the revolution began and quickly went home to maintain control of their troops.

The Army might also work with someone like Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other more youthful leaders in order to mitigate any fears they would be dictatorial like Mubarak.  ElBaradei would work with them because I know from personal contact that he is a loyal Egyptian interested in the good of the country and, if he sees this as a good course of action, I'm sure he will take it. The only conflict that might occur between ElBaradei and the Army is that ElBaradei is aware that America looks after its own interests first, not those of Egypt. His nationalist instincts may lead him to think of other courses of action. ElBaradei is widely known as a man of influence, intelligence, integrity and stature and, although some of the more radical youths might disagree, their opposition could be overcome. El Baradei stood with Dr. Hans Blix against the Bush/Blair lies about weapons of mass destruction and atomic weapons in Iraq prior to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, so he might stand against America trying to lead Egypt into policies that would put it at odds with the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.

3.  The Army might stand back, but I doubt this; for if they did, chaos will ensue in all areas of Egyptian life. It is clear the police have lost their authority because of their shooting at protesters -- killing many -- and being run off the streets, which has left many neighborhoods prey to looters and other vandals. Mubarak had not planned to be replaced at this point; he had plans for his sons to succeed him, much as the alleged "royalty" has done in the other pro-American states of the Middle East, but it did not work out that way.

The appointment of Omar Suleiman as Egypt's first Vice President is but a salute to America and Israel, and I doubt if the Army would support him, though I'm sure Mubarak feels it could happen. But I think Mubarak has made a bad bet. This appointment will not stop the demonstrations asking for his removal, because the people see Suleiman as a Mubarak puppet. However, Suleiman is also intelligent, knows the in's and out's of the Egyptian military and infrastructure, and has run the Secret Police for some time. Thus, in light of the present chaos, Suleiman could have a fighting chance with the support of Mubarak loyalists and those who have seen the problems in security and safety among the populace -- especially the wealthy. The Army's support for Suleiman is well known, but how far it will go in this situation remains to be seen.

4.  ElBaradei might think he has a chance to run for Egypt's president; however, he is seen as more of a valued adviser by other leaders of the revolt as well as by the Army. As I said, ElBaradei will do what he can for the good of Egypt, so he may be the shadow player who would be good for negotiating with the West. He is respected throughout the world, but I do not see him becoming the major leader -- president -- that he might wish for. I think he would be a good -- even great -- president, but I don't think it's in the cards. Had he been in Egypt since he left the UN, he could have been part of the beginning of this revolt and would have established his credentials more solidly, but since he came back only after the revolt started, he doesn't have the credentials or credibility of many others in the revolt or the Army.
I'd put my money on the Army taking over for the stability of Egypt, because they have the discipline, the weapons of control, a knowledge of the functioning of the government and they have the backing of the populace (this latter aspect is very important in Egypt, because people will give up their lives for independence if necessary, but this respect for the Army is well founded and has been since the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser). The Army also has the respect of America and the world; thus, Egypt would not lose any stature in the world if the Army took over and ruled the country. Some in America might not understand this, but Egyptians would, and they are the ones who count. If America wants to continue its friendship with Egypt -- and Egypt will always be a major player in Arab and Islamic politics and culture -- if the Army took over, it would have to respect this Army control. That, I think, would eventually to some sort of legitimate civilian-type of democratic or representative government.

These are just some of the possibilities of what may happen in Egypt. Of course Israel or America may send in Black Ops, and the Muslim Brotherhood (that originated as a tool of America) may try to insert their influence in the future, but hopefully the Egyptian people will see through all these sham players. But one never knows -- they could be important wild-card players as the game progresses. 

The major Islamic organizations in Egypt do not have the power they hold elsewhere because of the influence of the real teachings of Islam taught by the oldest and most prestigious Islamic University in the world -- Al Azhar University. Such teachings forbid the terrorism that is all too often ascribed to Islam, and the Egyptian people are highly respectful and proud of Al Azhar and its leadership, and would not violate that for any political, financial or ideological gain. 

My hope is that the Egyptian people will get a good leader, someone with the heart, vision and integrity of a Gamal Abdel Nasser, and not a Mubarak or Sadat -- but only time will tell. But I'd put my money on the Army as the only force that can bring back stability to Egypt. But once they regain stability, the problem they will face is dealing with the inequities of life in Egypt. The financial and social problems are huge in Cairo, one of the world's most overcrowded cities, but these things must be solved because Cairo is not only the center of Egyptian life, but also a major city in its influence in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Thus, a lot is riding on the outcome of this crisis.

The chaos that comes with revolution may be resolved peacefully as in America, or get out of hand as it did in France. However, my belief is that the Egyptian Army will play a strong hand once again and restore stability, safety, social services, and will attempt to solve the major problems Egypt is facing.

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Sam Hamod, Ph.D. is a graduate professor; he has taught courses in creative writing, politics, religion, mass media and intercultural relations. He has one of the very few PhDs awarded by The Writers Workshop of The Univ. of Iowa, has published 12 (more...)
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