Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Egypt: If Mubarak resigns, he should take Egypt's army with him


As we await Hosni Mubarak's address to Egypt and whether he'll resign, another question looms: If he does, will it make much of a difference in a country where the army is a "ruling caste"? In Thursday's Opinion pages, Daniel Williams, a senior researcher in the emergencies division of Human Rights Watch, paints a grim picture that's based in part on his own dealings with Egypt's not-so-clean army.

Where does the army stand in the epic struggle for Egypt's future? Will the "transition" out of Mubarak's 29-year rule lead to an end to political repression, torture, fake elections and strict curbs on speech, assembly and association? Or is the outcome more likely to be Mubarak-ism without Mubarak, with military overseers preserving the old system under a new guise?

Williams isn't hopeful.

Egypt's future, even without Mubarak, will be bleak unless it eliminates abusive practices by the country's security forces. […] To reduce suspicion that, in military hands, the brutal past is but prologue, the government needs to immediately protect basic rights, end arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment in custody, and ensure free expression and association, including keeping open Internet and communications channels throughout the country. This means lifting without delay the 30-year-old emergency law that has long been the legal justification to curb the rights of the Egyptian people.


Is real democracy an option in Egypt?

Arab cartoonists weigh in from Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters sit down in front of a line of soldiers as people are still gathered at Tahrir Square, in Cairo on Feb. 5, 2011. Credit: Felipe Trueba / EPA


Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tebogo Mafisa

If Mubarak resigns, he should also take away his miltary soliders who can be used in the absence of Mubarak by Mubarak. Egypt should turn over a new leaf and let all the Egyptians feel the taste of Democrary going forward. The democratic elections should be held and all the Egyptians should decide who should lead Egypt. We did it with Nelson Mandela after a lond undemocratic ruling of the Old National part until Mandela was realeased. As a South African, I feel all the Egyptians need freedom at last.

Tebogo Mafisa
Westminster, UK

Nikos  Retsos

Mubarak is supposed to address the nation tonight, and rumors about his departure - or his delegating of powers to the army, or whatever are going running wild -as of this writing. And that makes me very suspicious. If Mubarak steps down tonight, I believe this will be due to a U.S. and Israeli pre-packaged plan to maintain his policies in force with different faces from his regime - but with the same goal of protecting U.S. and Israeli interests first! Mubarak's departure, therefore, will be just the ploy to blindside the revolution!

The Egyptian Revolution is now at the cross-point of the U.S. and Israeli barricades which feverishly strive to maintain the Mubarak regime under Suleiman. Hillary Clinton made it simple and clear yesterday when she said: "My priority is to protect the security and the interests of the United States!" (Chicago Tribune, Feb. 10, 2011) And both the U.S. and Israel want to continue with Mubarak's regime which protected the U.S. and Israeli interests for 30 years - rather than venture into the turbulent currents of the people's revolution.

Omar Suleiman who was called in Arab media outlets "The CIA man in Cairo," and who as Egypt Intelligence Chief had daily contacts with the Israeli Mossad in secure phone lines -according to other reports in the Arab press, is too discredited by the Egyptian masses to be trusted with any transition.
They want to start with “a clean slate,” whereas the U.S. and Israel want to re-shuffle the Mubarak regime. And the fact that Mubarak put him on the driver's seat of his government, and Suleiman boldly bragged that "Mubarak is not going anywhere," and then threatened to crush the revolution "with a declaration of martial law," has made quite clear to the Egyptians that he will try everything to preserve the status quo with just window dressing promises to the demonstrators.

Historians and media people may recall that the late Shah Reza Pahlevi tried the Mubarak's ploy in 1979 by appointing Shapour Bahtiar as prime minister and authorized him to make reforms. But the Iranians wanted nothing to do with the Shah's puppet prime minister - as Egyptians now want nothing to do with Mubarak's puppet -Omar Suleiman. And as Shapour Bahtiar threatened to crash the Iranian protesters by staging a show of force by the Shah's massive royal guard in downtown Tehran, so does Suleiman now with his threat to crush the Egyptian revolution with the Egyptian army. The Bahtiar ploy failed because lower rank Iranian officers revolted, and higher rank general were arrested and executed. That is a possible scenario in Egypt - if Mubarak's loyal army commanders turn the guns on the people. And if that happens, Mubarak and Suleiman may end up having the fate of Romania's last dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Ceausescu, like Suleiman, counted on his "securitate" apparatus to protect him, but he found himself before a quick Romanian army court martial, and an instant execution by firing squad within minutes of its "guilty" verdict.

Suleiman may not be as omnipotent as he thinks - assuming he is not bluffing. And as it happened in 1952, I have no doubt that there are many young officers in the Egyptian army that may explode into an open rebellion against the regime once the streets of Cairo are filled with dead bodies. And if the shooting by he army against the people starts, those officers might do what Nasser did in 1952, or what the Iranian lower rank officers did in 1979.

Reports in the press have confirmed the the U.S. Defense Secretary Mr. Gates, and the Egyptian Defense Minister Marshal Tantawi talk almost daily on the phone. And that may give Obama the false security that he controls the Egyptian army, and he will have the final word on who will take over after Mubarak or after Suleiman. But that will be shortsighted. The Greek historian Herodotus argued that "invaders cannot control occupied lands against the will of their citizenry forever." That argument has "met" the test of history. Now, Obama's and Israel's plan, to use the more modern Machiavellian model of installing, training, and bribing another despot “to protect their interests” at the expense and the welfare of the population, is just a continuation of the one that has failed - after 30 years.

Can the U.S. and Israel rebuilt it from scrap? No, because the Egyptians are now in a higher level of awareness of the U.S. and Israeli efforts to build a new regime in Egypt with parts salvaged from the old Mubarak's junk yard! And they want a “new and shiny” vehicle to ride into the future, as well as the closing down of the Mubarak's junk yard for good! Nikos Retsos, retired professor


If the Egyptians get a taste of democracy what will they cook up? I bet it will look a lot like Iran; a theocracy with Sharia law firm implanted as the law of the land, and Israel can use its copy of their peace treaty as toilet paper.

Should this be an excuse for Egypt to remain as its been? No. It just means that the people are going to get exactly the government they deserve regardless of which way it goes. Unfortunately, freedom, as we understand it, won't be anywhere in sight. Indeed, for many classes of Egyptians, especially women, it will be the beginning of even greater tyranny for them.

Thandi Jacobs

It is a very positive thing, then, that he has stepped down. Egypt now can take their rightful opportunity at democratically electing a national leader for the betterment of their country.

Thandi Jacobs

It is a very positive thing, then, that he has stepped down. Egypt now can take their rightful opportunity at democratically electing a national leader for the betterment of their country.

Ozzy - khumbul'ekhaya: (thandi_liyema@hotmail.com)



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...