Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Desperate Times

The swelling tide of protests across the Middle East have left in their wake great uncertainty as the countries involved attempt to reach a balance between the old regimes and the awakening new regimes, uncertain yet as regards what the future will permit. The raging battles against progress away from totalitarianism continue in Syria and in Libya, and Bahrain is still struggling as is Yemen, but Tunisia and Egypt appear to have reached a kind of plateau.

An uncertain one, because what these events represent is a tidal wave of potential change, but the changeover in regimes and their power structure is certain to finally undergo some significant alteration. The ruling elite in Tunisia and in Egypt have been transformed, albeit somewhat. In terms of humiliation, the ousted regimes are facing the kind of nightmares they never imagined would occur as they routinely managed the affairs of their respective countries.

In Egypt, the most populous, and still heavily influential of the Arab countries involved, the head of state who once had the powerful military staunchly backing every edict ever issued by him, his supreme authority never questioned, is now a broken man. At 83, his health compromised and his dignity assailed in a manner only he can quite describe but not comprehend, his concern for the welfare of his family is now uppermost in mind.

His wife and his sons have been charged with misuse of state funds, with corruption, and of abuse toward the state and its people. The dynasty that seemed certain to continue evolving has been completely arrested. Mr. Mubarak has been charged with corruption, with amassing a vast fortune illicitly, and with various offences, the most notable currently being that he ordered troops to fire upon protesters in Tahrir Square.

The once proud and patrician man, confident in his authority and genuinely concerned for the welfare of his country, still attempts to convince the public that was once his, that everything he ever did, from the time he was a military commander in the field, to the time when he took on the obligations of public office and became president after the assassination of his predecessor, was for love of country.

The protesters don't believe him, scorn and blame him for the tough autocratic rule he imposed on the population, for the lack of opportunities for the young, for unemployment among the masses, for rising food and energy costs, for the arrest and incarceration of those who spoke against the regime. The military which once served him unquestionably as their leader, may believe him but it is of little matter now.

They cannot afford to evince any partiality, any sympathy for his plight; he is, after all, a spent force, and the future has left him behind in the wake of all the turmoil that unseated him and is attempting to do the same with the other dictators in the geography. The kind of rough justice once meted out to those he mistrusted and hated, is now being meted out to him and his family.

The plea bargains that extort from Hosni Mubarak and his family their bank accounts and their worldly goods in favour of a lighter sentence are ongoing. Hosni and Suzanne Mubarak remain in a light custody but they are not incarcerated. Public opinion is starkly against any kind of forgiveness for the Mubaraks; the insistence is that he be held fully accountable for all the allegations, true and trumped, of malfeasance.

The military fear compromising themselves by behaving toward the Mubaraks in a humane manner; their leadership, after all, is just as guilty as Hosni Mubarak for all the ills the public claims must be placed upon him.

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