Sunday, 26 July 2009


Egypt in Mubarak's last days: Masr menein ya She7ta? w ray7a fein ya She7ta?

  • Sunday, 26 July 2009
  • Fouad GM
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  • At 81 years old, Hosni Mubarak is not expected to be ruling Egypt for much longer. After 28 at the summit of the Egyptian regime, the military man is leaving behind a country in a troublesome situtation. Although credited for mainting "stability" and keeping Egypt "out of trouble" throughout his reign, one can only wonder what the post-Mubarak era will be like.

    As expectations and speculations run high, talk about a heritary succession in which his son, Gamal, will be "democratically" elected. Alternatively, head of the secret service, Omar Soleiman, is another name that props up. However, the different strata of society have different views.

    In the past month, I've come across three interesting cases I'd like to share with you.

    On June 22, BBC's Arab Affairs Correspondant Magdi Abdel Hadi ran a two-part series on "Mubarak's Egypt". Amongst the many interesting things he highlights is the role of the army (part I) in state and economy today. However, more interestingly, he speaks to democracy activists and well-off "liberal" intellectuals and politicians who call upon the army to govern after Mubarak and sort Egypt's problems out. Clearly Egypt has neither learnt from its own history since the 1952 coup d'etat-turned-revolution nor has its bourgeoisie learnt much from Pakistan and other countries whose military has, in the more recent past, taken over "to reform" and only worsened matters. The report also addressed Egypt's issues of frustration-drive-emigration as well as informal settlements and urban slums.

    ---> To listen to Magdi Abdel Hadi's reportage from Egypt click here

    Likewise, younger and perhaps less well-off members of society voiced concerns and frustration at Egypt's educational and professional systems.

    First was Rana Abu Bakr, who scored the highest results in Egypt's centralised high school examinations (Thanaweya Aama) this year. Rana criticised the educational system and blamed the Egyptian regime of destroying Egypt's future. "Government corruption, especially in the education sector," she said, "has turned Egypt from a country enjoying great prestige in the 1950s and 1960s, to a country lagging behind." Rana Abu Bakr, claimed, intends to emigrate to the USA and never return to a country which offers her no career or opportunities.

    ---> To read more on the controversial Rana Abu Bakr issue
    click here

    Finally, today, a friend of mine reported on Egypt's most high-profile cyber attack for Al Masry Al Youm (English-beta). Lina Atallah wrote about the hacking of Alexandria University website by a "white hacker" on Thursday. In his message, the hacker made a loud and clear socio-political message criticising Egypt's educational system, "shiny certificates" which he/she claimed were a sign of no education, employment policies and corruption. The website, according to the article and as I checked a minute ago, is still down. Amongst the many things the hacker's 1600-word screed revealed was also an excel sheet which shows a quarterly expenditure report of the university Management Information System and reveals a budget of just over LE1 billion (over £100 million) for salaries, equipment and activities’ implementation.

    Click Here for Lina Atallah's article in Al-Masry Al-Youm

    I'm not sharing this with you to give you a headache, depression or make you need a good night out. Rather, to raise the question: where is Egypt going in Mubarak's last days? With Egypt's richer people moving out to the gated communities within the walled and policed "new cities" and fake oases of greenery and luxury in the deserts outside Cairo, and with the more educated, less rich ones migrating out of the country to seek opportunities elsewhere... What's left? Who's left? Where's Cairo heading? Where's Egypt going? Will the oligarchies and "princes of the NDP" (as Talaat el Sadat is quoted by Magdi Abdel Hadi) rule next and perpetuate the status quo? Will Cairo decay and the newly-created governorates of Helwan and 6 October flourish with the government and the elite fortified in their gated communities? Or will the military takeover and replay the 1952 episode again? Have Egyptians left a third option?

    As Akhenaton asked She7ta in Cairokee's song AKHENATON: "
    Masr menein ya She7ta? w ray7a fein ya She7ta?"

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