September 25, 2006
Mubarek is Dead, Long Live Mubarek: the Age of the Neo Mamalike
[Ahem Mubarek is not actually dead, it was a turn of phrase]
I believe it is more or less well known that I am an Egypt sceptic. Indeed, I am an Egypt pessimist.
A pity, as the country could and should be a great nation. However, Egypt is the perfect example in the region of the foreign funded vampire state and the bankruptcy of a short-termist "realist" (or rather fabulism dressed up as realism) policy running to the end of its tether.
I found the more and more open proposition that the Pharoah of the Mamlouks will be succeeded by the Son of the Pharoah of the Mamlouks at once amusing and disturbing. I am sure it will be, when it happens, be accompanied by much prattle on the part of the Americans about the "reformers" in the House of the Pharoah and other empty speeches only convincing to themselves.
Speculation is growing about whether Gamal Mubarak is positioning himself to succeed his ageing father as Egypt's president, after he stole the limelight at the ruling National Democratic party's annual conference.
The 42-year-old son of Hosni Mubarak, who has always denied presidential ambitions and dodged the question again this week, was centre of attention at the NDP gathering, which ended last night.
Pity, in some ways, the way the theatre is being arranged as I had thought a few years back that Ibn Mubarek might actually make a decent political successor in a normal sense (that is not direct succession, but with time, in the context of a genuine semi-democratic environment).
In an hour-long speech he criticised US policy in the Middle East and said Egypt should consider developing nuclear power. He attempted to speak to Egypt's poor, saying it was the job of the conference to "air the hardships and grievances suffered by ordinary Egyptians".
The Nuclear angle is interesting but what it really means requires a deeper connexion with Egyptian politics than I have currently.
That he felt he could tweak the pay masters' nose and raise the nuclear issue in such a setting rather underlines the low stock of the Empire at present.
"We reject foreign initiatives that daily attempt to dissolve the identity of the Arab world through what is called the Middle East Initiative Project," he told cheering delegates in a reference to Washington, which provides nearly $2bn (£1.1bn) a year in military and economic aid to Egypt.
Well, the current American administration is succeeding so very, very brilliantly in winning enemies and losing friends, isn't it?
Indeed, this paragraph rather captures things:
But he has rarely attempted to appeal to a broader audience. His jibe at the US appeared calculated to do so at a time when Washington's backing is important to the survival of some of the region's most entrenched autocracies, but is also an increasing liability as anti-US sentiment rises.
You recall my agency friend who summarised in early 2004 as I recall why he thought Iraq was lost: the very whores of the Americans didn't want to be seen with them, and you ain't no kinda pimp if your own whores don't want to be seen with you.
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Suggestion: to put quotes in the title caption as the title had this dumb 'merican running over to cnn.com to see that Mubarak was dead.
Posted by: matthew hogan at September 26, 2006 07:30 PM
ya abu l-maal,
the interesting thing about nuclear power plants in egypt is: egypt doesn't NEED them. every single egyptian village has electricity, making flying over the country at night such a wonderful experience.
there have been no power cuts for decades, not even in summer when the ACs push consumption to a peak.
this whole "nuclear power" talk is pure political showmanship. it's populist propaganda.
Posted by: raf* at September 27, 2006 04:22 AM
Well, I would disagree.
First, having worked in Egypt, and lived there, there are indeed brown outs and the free electricity from Hydro has long not been sufficient. Presently they are building gas fired capacity, as IPPs, but there is a certian logic to building 'clean' nuclear capacity.
Now, I agree the Nuclear Power speech was populism and nationalist showmanship, but "need" has to account for future growth, and future growth in Egypt is massive.
This leaves aside their water problem of course.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at September 27, 2006 05:35 AM
Plus the example of Iran shows ambitious young Egyptians like Gamal that if you want to be a player, and get attention, in the Middle East, you should get some nuclear action.
Egyptians are alarmed by the Iranians. It's bad enough being unstaged by the Saudis, but the Iranians seem more dangerous.
Nuclear power also frees up more gas for Egypt to pipe through the ludicrous peace pipeline to Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and just about anywhere else Egypt has an embassy.
Posted by: simon at September 27, 2006 10:49 AM
Quite right, the mere fact of having hydrocarbons doesn't mean the country doesn't need for long term to diversify its power sources and indeed free up the same for export.
Actually, were nuclear security and gas and oil not political footballs in US of A, it would be considered good economic planning.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at October 1, 2006 11:20 PM