2 Feb 2011

Egypt: Reaping what the West has sown

Pray, what was OUR role?

So we have witnessed the Egyptian army with American-supplied hardware and training so far failing to act decisively to protect peaceful protesters. What an end to this soiled ‘Western’ support for Mubarak.

The scales are falling from many eyes one week into this insurrection. Here for assorted mainly non-Egyptian reasons is the sorry tale of a client state. A state where a corrupt autocrat became preferred to the vision he conjured of the extreme alternative that awaited any decision to allow the Egyptian people to decide.

How convenient too, that this favoured autocrat not only sanctioned torture in his own land but was willing to undertake it for Britain and the United States when invited to do so. Some here have told me that domestic torture surged courtesy of the blessing bestowed upon it by Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We reap what we sow.

In one week we have seen the price Egyptians are paying for Western tolerance of Mubarak’s oft-documented and systemic abuse of human rights. Why, I even met a young bank clerk the other day who told me he’d been tortured with electrodes in Alexandria after a car accident.

We have seen Mubarak’s hired thugs – and we have seen a genuine passion amongst some for the “father of the nation” they believe Mubarak to be. This is a condition that hangs upon the repetitive deployment in every shop, school, public building of images of the great man. As many as two million Egyptians depend upon Mubarak directly or indirectly for their income, housing and more. No wonder then that when he preaches fear of extreme alternative their passion for him sustains.

But then so does that of this eclectic opposition movement sustain. Given all that has been done to them this week – tear gas, beating, shooting, gassing, burning – there are still enough of them in Freedom Square to stall the army’s declared intent to clear it.

That intent struck at 4am this morning – that classic moment when the body temperature is lowest and most vulnerable. And what a hash they made of it. They emerged without an inch of square cleared, having killed – or allowed to be killed – three more and wounded some three hundred others to bring the grand 24-hour total to five dead, and over 800 injured, according to the Health Ministry.

Finally, because of the time difference, this all happened live on Prime Time US television. What an hour to choose.



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