The Americans Are Leaving- Why Some Egyptians Want Them to Stay

As the state department of the United States urges its citizens to make emergency flights out of Egypt, the US embassy in Cairo is hard at work. The US Embassy has tasked itself with the safety of US citizens to ensure a safe and quick departure from Egypt. However, is this a bad thing for Egyptians? Egyptians are saying that this departure could be a threat to their safety. The current situation in Cairo is highly unsettled and other countries are urging their citizens to pull out of Egypt as well, including Britain and Japan.

As this is happening, reports are surfacing in Egypt that President Obama is speaking to President Mubarak. No one knows what these talks entail; however, the Egyptian people assume that President Obama is still supporting Mubarak’s regime. As I am told, “We do not need the United States’ help in our revolution. What we hope is that the United States will tell Mubarak that the United States will no longer support Mubarak’s regime.”

So, why would Americans leaving Cairo affect the Egyptian people? The Egyptian people feel that as American, British, and Japanese citizens are departing for their home countries, Egyptians are left without their “shield”. With the only people left being Egyptians, people believe that Mubarak will be more willing to order the military to start using force to deter protesters. In response to this, the Egyptian people have begun asking for a million citizens to congregate at Tahrir Square on Tuesday, February 1. Some do believe that this is going to be a “million-man march” but the sentiment in Egypt is that the calling of a million people is to deter Mubarak from using force against the people. As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers.

As Mubarak’s days are numbered the reality that he would irrationally use military force on protesters in Tahrir Square which would cause a massacre is unlikely. However, it is this fear that has Egyptians concerned. They want this to be their fight and it is most certainly that now; the only individuals left are themselves, there are no foreign citizens to halt Mubarak from using direct force.

Egyptians have already seen scare tactics from Mubarak. The looters are believed to be sent from Mubarak’s regime. Public hospitals in Egypt were raided last night and the patients were stripped of any money they had. Public hospitals in Egypt care for the indigent. These are people who struggle to live day to day. Individuals who can afford more expensive, not always higher quality care, will be seen at private institutions. What does it mean that the looters choose to raid public hospitals? This would be Mubarak’s attempt to stifle the enthusiasm of the people who are, for every reason, willing to sacrifice all they have for a more equitable Egypt. These scare tactics have given most the belief that Mubarak is willing to use extreme measures until the people side with him.

What should President Obama do today? I do not wish to be the President of the United States this week, however, our President has been on the forefront in demanding human rights for the protesters. Whether the Egyptians are correct in believing that Mubarak will now start using force as foreigners have left, President Obama must take this threat seriously. A recommendation would be to again call President Mubarak to notify the leader that if peaceful protesters are met with violence then the United States will immediately and publically call for the immediate resignation of President Mubarak. The only hope is that a man whose back is against the proverbial wall will make the best decision for his fellow citizens and treat them as fellow humans, which is exactly what they are.

An article was brought to my attention that mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood seeking other opposition groups to join forces in an interim unity government. They will all be together in Tahrir Square tomorrow. What would this mean? The Muslim Brotherhood is seeking opportunities currently to be seen as a mild group that believes in the ideologies of the protesters, unalienable human rights and personal freedom. However, the Brotherhood does not support either ideal. The Brotherhood is currently locked out of the current government. If Egyptians allow the Muslim Brotherhood to play the slightest role in the reshaping of Egypt’s government, one can expect the stifling of personal freedoms and less equitable Egypt.

Egyptians, keep your eyes on end goal, put into power those individuals that will allow Egypt to flourish not suffer.  To the military, side with your fellow citizens, they wish for you to protect a better Egypt.

The Coming of a New Egypt

With family in Cairo and Alexandria, I am very well attuned to the goings on in Egypt at the current moment. After speaking with uncles and cousins via landlines (all other communication is shut down in Egypt) I have begun to understand the complexity and severity of the issue.

I have been asked by many people, why is this happening and what caused this? In response, this is an issue of a corrupt government. Close to half of Egyptians are living off less than $1 a day and the citizens simply expect basic human rights and their inalienable right to freedom. Despite the stereotype of the Middle East, religion has not played a part in the protests…yet.

All of this was compounded with the brutal police killing of Khaled Mohamed Said in June 2010. This killing of a man in his twenties ignited a spark against the government. What is more amazing about this, is the impact that Facebook has had in changing the environment in the Middle East. After the brutal killing of Said, a message on a Facebook page dedicated to Said talked about a protest that would happen on the national holiday celebrating the efforts of the police force in Egypt. The date was January 25, 2011.  After hearing about the protest, Mubarak’s response surrounded the theme of ‘well let the children do what they wish’. Not knowing how upset the people were and how much of an issue for change this would become, the police force was unequipped which bolstered the protesters.

As of 6:00 pm EST on January 28, 2011, President Mubarak spoke to the people promising to remove his ministers but remained bold in his belief that he should stay in power. This will not happen. Protesters are upset with the Parliament in Egypt but they are more forceful with their words and actions as it relates to President Mubarak and his corruption.

What does this mean for Egypt going forward? Egyptians must make it known quickly that they want a moderate in power. If this does not happen then the Muslim Brotherhood will find itself in power, despite what others believe. Egyptians’ best choice at the present time is Mohammed ElBaradei, though seen as an outsider and unaware of Egyptians concerns; he gives Egypt the greatest opportunity to remain credible in the Middle East. Other names like Amr Moussa (former Minister of Foreign Affairs) have come to the surface as a potential replacement. However member of Mubarak’s ministry is an unlikely choice.

The protests right now are focused on all the right things: corruption, human rights, and freedom. If however, the Muslim Brotherhood gains power it would make this protest about religion. If this does happen, it is over for Egypt. What would that mean for the rest of the Middle East? With similar revolutions happening in Tunisia, Algiers, Jordan, and Yemen; what happens in Egypt will likely control how the citizens in other countries decide to elect their leaders.

If we look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an example for how countries under this type of rule act, we see irrationality in foreign affairs. Fault is absolutely on both sides. However, many of the demands from the Palestinians are so dramatic that Israel has to deny them. They are dramatic because if there is peace there would not be a need for Hamas or the PLO. If these types of regimes take over the Middle East, you can expect the same irrationality (or rationality whichever way you think). Also, if this type of regime took over, what would happen to the economy of Egypt? Despite what others believe, Egypt is not as oil rich as their neighbors and a large portion of the economy is driven by the tourism of the history rich nation. However, if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, you would see a decline in tourism revenue resulting in even greater poverty.

It is very crucial for Egyptians to continue to fight for the right things, freedom from an authoritarian and a corrupt government and human rights. It must be stated that in this fight, Egyptians must not lose sight of a better Egypt, an Egypt that is credible around the world and a beacon for true freedom for other Arabs to see.

Make the right decision Egyptians, the world is watching!