Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt, Tunisia Crisis: A Lesson to the World

Egypt, Tunisia crisis: A lesson to the world

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 20:27
Zimbabwe Herald

Normally the best teacher in life is someone whom we admire, not the preacher who has a tendency of spreading the Holy Bible at the podium without living it.

Of late, the world has been shaken by recent events in the Arab world with states such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan clamouring for change in their respective lands. What irks the respective citizens of the aforementioned states is the failure by the so-called First World to distinguish foreign policy from imperialism.

The Western media has been awash with “breaking news” of protests in Egypt and Tunisia. But of concern is that most of the invited analysts who fail to define issues in Tunis and Cairo are drawn from Paris, Washington, London and Tel Aviv.

With the regime of Hosni Mubarak coming to an end, one cannot help but conclude that Western interests are taking precedence over the ordinary Egyptian’s demands. The week began with the US special envoy to Egypt defending the Cairo administration, arguing Mubarak should stay put to allow for a gradual transition.

Obama and his Secretary of State were quick to distance themselves from such assertions. Since when did a Washington envoy represent a personal opinion on matters involving the domestic affairs of other nations? It is hard to miss the double speak in Obama’s tone.

Mubarak has been in power for 30 years without any resentment from the West, even under George Bush. But at no time did we hear Condoleezza Rice classifying Egypt under the axis of evil, so which people’s interests is Obama advancing under the political turmoil in the Arab giant?

Both President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Mr Mubarak of Egypt have been in power for the same period. What distinguishes the two in the eyes of the West is President Mugabe is regarded as a threat to the imperialist designs of the West while Mubarak was their barking dog. The Egyptian leader’s moderate stance towards the Israelis and his willingness to protect the Suez Canal made him a darling of the West. Any attempt to shield him by the West is a time bomb both for the Muslim and Christian communities.

The ordinary Egyptians and Tunisians should ask themselves whether the West had learnt of both countries’ leaders fortunes a week ago or the capitalists of Europe and America had benefited from the loot by embracing it in the name of foreign direct investment.

It is rumoured that Mubarak is worth about US$70 billion, way above Bill Gates. The former Tunisian leader, Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, and his number two were said to control about 35 percent of the country’s wealth.

Ironically, most of their properties are said to be scattered in New York, Paris, Frankfurt, the Red Sea and London. A former US ambassador is quoted as lamenting the level of obscene opulence the Ben Ali family displayed.

Does this mean that before the two nations’ populace revolted against their respective governments that level of fortune was an unnecessary subject to bring to the fore considering that most of these leaders’ properties are domiciled in Western capitals. It is time for the Arabs to stand up for their rights. Any delay in doing so will see another Western puppet coming at the helm. The reason why the US seems to be sympathising with the West is in order to appear democratic after learning that to continue supporting Mubarak will be like flogging a dead horse.

The greatest threat facing the Egyptians at this juncture is the absence of a suitable candidate to carry their hopes and aspirations.

Only a few weeks ago, Ben Ali was a guest to one of the Western capitals and news of France denying the guest landing rights which saw him heading to Saudi Arabia is a story of a good weather friend.

For starters, Egypt is an Arab nation situated in North Africa with a population of around 80 million people, double that of South Africa. It is also the flagship economy in North Africa just as Nigeria is to West Africa, South Africa to Sadc, and Kenya to East Africa.

According to the United Nations, about 40 percent of the nation’s populace subsist below the Poverty Datum Line, with an unemployment rate of about 16 percent and boasting some of the biggest banks in the Arab world besides giving us Al Ahly, one of the most successful football clubs in the world to come from Africa.

In addition, it is also the land where the biblical Moses learnt, where the late Saddam Hussein also acquired his tertiary education.

With the crisis currently engulfing the nation, the country is said to be losing an average of about US$310 million daily in terms of GDP. In aggregate, a total of US$3,1 billion GDP has been lost so far with the Egyptian pound expected to shed 20 percent against the greenback before the crisis ends.

This is where the adage of permanent interests and no permanent friends seems to hold water. The West is not worried about the economic consequences of such clashes as long as Washington’s interests are protected.

What is making Obama’s job tougher than that of his predecessors is the pigment of his skin. He has to act African first before he sounds American. Unlike in other crises, Washington is under surveillance than ever before considering that most North Africans remember how the superpower screwed up in dealing with Saddam, Ahmadinejad, Omar al-Bashir and even Lukschenko, who rigged himself to power in Belaraus just recently. The Arabs had been counting their losses and the unconditional support of Israel by the US is still fresh in the minds of the Arabs.

It is apparently unfathomable for the West to proffer economic solutions to the trouble spots of the world. Their economies are losing the glitter and any efforts to revive outside economies will definitely be met with stiff resistance by their legislative chambers.

A case in point is Haiti. Port au Prince is still a devastated city a year after the quake that ripped the small nation apart. What Obama promised is yet to come to reality as the Haitians are slowly but surely losing patience with each passing day.

It should indirectly but surely also serve as a lesson to Zimbabweans if both the Tunisian and Egyptian economies, which are being ravaged under political turmoil, are to be stabilised by Bretton Woods aid.

It is the interests, not governance, which determine who gets aid and who does not. Changing governments is not a bad thing, but let it not be co-ordinated by remote control from the West. It must also be a lesson to the West that Egypt will be a turning point in defining their approach to different nations.

An average of about 17 elections are to be held in Africa this year alone and a litmus test is Egypt and Tunisia. If they fail such nations, their appeal at continental level will be compromised. The conference in the resort and mountainous site of Davos, Switzerland, became a circus when Egypt was on fire. The delegates knew very well that the main agenda was deliberately eliminated and the talk of economic growth and decline without acknowledging the changing geo-politics and the decline of capitalism at large.

Imperialism seems to be losing ground and the emergence of Southern Sudan is clear testimony of how “natives” can determine their own destiny in the midst of vilification. The West should also learn that Africans can unite regardless of tribe, language and profession to defend what they strongly believe in without foreign interference.

The North Africans knew it was time to get rid of their leaders without any external influence whatsoever.

May the lord bless you and enjoy the rest of the week.

Christopher Takunda Mugaga, Head of Research, Econometer Global Capital
+263 772 340 353, +263 776 266 062
takunomics2009@yahoo.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots.

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