Tahrir Square burns: a postcard from Egypt

An American in Cairo reflects on the experience of events there today and calls on the US to throw off its ties to the soon-to-be ancien regime
Daniel Bruno Sanz
28 January 2011

In Egypt, the calcified government and status-quo are melting away like snow thrust under an Egyptian sun. Thirty years of pent up hopes and dreams deferred have unleashed a torrent of rage in a nation where tens of millions live on $2 a day. From Zamalek I see the black smoke pouring from Tahrir (Liberation) Square into the already smoggy skies. The characteristically pious, stoic and soft-spoken Egyptian can't bear it any longer. The regime of octogenerian Hosni Mubarak is living on borrowed time enabled by $1.5 billion in annual American largess and the soporific effects of Islam.   

Time's up.

This is not an Islamic rebellion and there are no looters. This is not about the (banned) Muslim Brotherhood and there are no leaders. This is a headless revolution enabled by Twitter and Facebook, which have been shut down along with cell phone signals in a frantic bid to put the genie and ghost of Mohamed Bouazizi back into a bottle and ship it back to Tunisia.

It's too late.

The Egyptian pound, bonds and stock market are plummeting as
investors flee. Tourism will fall and unemployment, already the highest in the world, will get worse next quarter. What we are witnessing in Egypt is the real reason some people are furious at Wikileaks. It was leaked cables that helped incense Tunisians about their autocrat and expel him, setting an example for Egypt. The uprisings are also the unintended consequences of the debt crises in rich countries. Central banks lowered interest rates to stimulate their economies and as a result, commodity prices, including wheat, are soaring. Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat. The Egyptian government maintains that it subsidizes wheat for the poor, but Egyptians ridicule this claim because the subsidies are exploited by corrupt third parties.

The Facebook page of the revolt is here:  

Thousands are visiting the page every day. Whether or not Mubarak manages to hold on and bequeath the presidency to his son Gamal, who is rumoured to have left the country, Egypt will become ungovernable because people feel that they have nothing to lose.

Yemen has also caught fire and Al-Jazeera's  release of the Palestine Papers shows just how unfair and shameful a peace-broker the United States has been. Another tinderbox, the Gaza Ghetto, is on the Egyptian border. The entire Mena (middle-east and north Africa)
geo-political landscape is evolving very fast. My country, America, born in revolution, should welcome the change.

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