Thursday, February 03, 2011

Egypt: ‘Same Dogs, Same Necklaces’

‘Same Dogs, Same Necklaces’

By Fareed Mahdy

Courtesy IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

ISTANBUL (IDN) - Immersed in a rapture that precedes death, the Egyptian regime, still implicitly encouraged by the Western world that fed it and kept it in power, seems to be nurturing the hope of retaining control.

In doing so, it ignores both the Spanish proverb "the same dogs with different necklaces”, and the Leopard theory ("change everything so that nothing changes"), which was brilliantly described by the Sicilian writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

On the contrary, it formed a "new" government with the same dogs and the same necklaces.

Few days later, its visible head, Hosni Mubarak, announced at midnight on February 2, 2011, that he will cling to power until next September and make what he described as the necessary changes.

He did so less than 48 hours after a suddenly circulated directive from the U.S. intelligence spoke of a "smooth” or “quiet” coup by the Egyptian military -- armed by the Pentagon with over a billion dollars a year since 1979 -- taking over the reins of power, regardless of Mubarak.

However, Mubarak did not seem to understand Washington's demand, duly complied with by the Egyptian military leadership (the army's top chief was in the U.S. capital during the first hours after the eruption of popular anger) to maintain the regime but not the person heading it.

This time, Mubarak did not obey "his master's voice", and ignored Obama's gradual claims that there is a need for "immediate" change. He turned instead to talk about dialogue with the opposition, and said some of its members were refusing to engage in talks with his regime due to what he called "self-interests."

But, which opposition the Egyptian regime is talking about?

The strongest, the 'Muslim Brother', is outlawed. Several minor parties were "bought" by the regime in exchange for a seat in parliament. Therefore, the most outstanding opposition is the bloc led by Nobel Laureate Mohammed El Baradei, which faces attempts of a takeover by those parties who claimed to be opponents of the regime until they started eating out its hands.

Hours after Mubarak announced his decision to cling on to the presidential chair until September, President Barack Obama revealed to the press that he had spoken with him after his address, and that Mubarak realised that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place.

The Egyptians bubbling with "anger and ira" have rejected such desperate attempts by Mubarak. They know that the regime has come to an end.

Meanwhile, the market lords have already exploited the legitimate aspirations of the sons of the Pharaohs, by boosting oil prices (so far the Suez Canal works normally and Egypt is not an oil exporter), and, incidentally, begin to attribute their failure to come out of the crisis which they caused themselves, to "the volatile situation in Egypt and the fears that it may spread."

Until now, Egyptians have shown an exemplary civilised behaviour in their protests.

Nevertheless, elements of the secret police and security forces, carrying out orders of the regime to organise banditry looting and arson, some of them wearing fake military uniforms, have managed to attack the protesters.

Simultaneously, there have been heavy clashes provoked by small groups of "loyalists" that the regime has recruited to blend with the peaceful protesters.

The system apparently still dreams of justifying its hold onto power under the ill-minded threat that "it's either I or chaos." In vain!