Western romantics dream of Egypt as a focal point of Middle Eastern civilization. That may have been true under the reign of Cleopatra before her dalliance with Marc Antony brought down the wrath of Rome. Surely, two millenia of disintegration have taken their toll in that wretched country since that allegedly golden time.
President Obama appears to have dreamed of restoring the glory of Eygpt when he conspired with the Egyptian army to topple President Hosni Mubarek from power. In so doing, President Obama displayed an ignorance of history, failing to remember that this army is the same corrupt and weak army that fled the battlefield in June 1967 when Israel struck back at Gamel Abdul Nasser’s bid to wipe Israel off the map of the Middle East. Neither does he appear to remember that this is the same corrupt and weak army that fled the battlefield in October 1973 when President Sadat launched a second attempt to push the Israelis into the Mediterranean Sea. The story goes that the Arabs fled so quickly that they left their foot-sandals lying on the desert sand!
So it is entirely predictable that this same corrupt and weak army is now rushing to abandon the supposed principles of the Tahrir Revolution. Egypt’s transitional military council announced a week ago that it intends to try Hosni Mubarek for conspiring to kill unarmed protesters. Conviction could mean the death penalty. The new regime also intends to prosecute Mubarek and his two sons, along with a lengthy list of business associates on charges of corruption. Nowhere has the new regime announced that it will prosecute its own agents and associates, including themselves, for the murders that they effected during the Tahrir Revolution and for the corruption which is the ongoing basis of the Army’s wealth and social status.
There is no rule of law in Egypt – it existed if at all only for the brief period of British rule – and there is no toleration for religious minorities. Already Muslims are attacking Christian churches, and threatening mob intimidation for all those who worship God in the name of Jesus Christ. The Egyptian army stands aside, smirking at this display of intolerance.
The path is already set for the disintegration of Egypt into pre-modern tribal and ethnic loyalties, as happened in post-Hussein Iraq. And, unless President Obama demonstrates an amazing change of mind, this time there will be no American military boots on the ground to prevent attempted genocide.
Egypt has no chance whatsoever at this time of evolving into a modern nation through the democratic process. It offers every sign of disintegrating into the Pits of Hell.