By Joseph Cachia
“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?” Pablo Casals.
Egyptian demonstrators and their supporters wondered about all the slogans of the west promoting freedom and democracy, albeit hesitantly, condemning Mubarak. People — not only in Egypt but also in other Arab countries — were skeptical with regard to the west’s official position. They are asking why it is now that the West is backing the people’s demand for democracy and whether they now have realised that Mubarak is a puppet dictator propped up and funded by the US to insure the Suez Canal for the Western world, while his country wallowed in poverty.
Why should the US and Israel be concerned that the Egyptian uprising might spread to their other allies in the Arab world? Isn’t it all for the sake of freedom and democracy?
The US is not concerned that radical Muslims will rule Egypt. The US was supporting Osama Bin Laden when Afghanistan was occupied by the former Soviet Union, and still supports Saudi Arabia’s regime despite its disregard for human rights and oppression of women.
Why should the West take away any credit from what the Egyptian people have proudly achieved? It seems that now everybody wants a slice of the cake. But they simply can only say, ‘game over’ in Egypt!
The European Union is just performing a balancing act, simply sitting on the fence, waiting to see where the wind is blowing and being non-committal unless it would hurt the feelings of her closest partner, the United States.
Stefan Fule, the EU Commissioner responsible for the Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, said “it is not for us to dictate outcomes or propose solutions,” the EU “will closely watch the steps that will be taken,” the commissioner said, expressing hope that “they will pave the way towards democratic, free and fair elections”.
One must surely feel justified in asking: Haven’t most of the EU countries played a negative role in the events leading up to the Egyptian upheavals? Wasn’t the Mubarak regime Europe’s foremost ally? Were the Europeans faithful to their values in supporting this regime?
But the most fitting description came from Spanish MEP Willy Meyer of the leftist GUE/NGL group who stated: “The EU has a very serious problem with its neighbourhood policy. We have passed from being custodians of Ben Ali and Mubarak to pretending that we are protecting the revolutionary process of a civil society that wants change.” He aptly put the blame where it should lie.
The White House statement calling for the Egyptian regime to support “universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association and speech” is much too late. It should have been strongly affirmed over 30 years ago.
Why is it now that US Secretary of State Clinton is calling for “an orderly transition” to democracy? In what way, may I ask? Perhaps by using US-provided weaponry meted out through so-called American co-operation to the tune of $1.5 billion annually in the long-standing support of the Mubarak dictatorship. Doesn’t she realise that America cannot continue to support repressive regimes through unconditional arms transfers and other security assistance? She must accept the fact that the United States can no longer suppress democracy forces. It cannot afford to be on the wrong side of history.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, commended the Egyptians for demanding their rights and views in a courageous and peaceful manner, while reiterating the UN’s readiness to assist the nation. Shouldn’t you, or any of your predecessors, have been there earlier, Mr. Ki-moon? At least, thirty years earlier! You could have witnessed the various forms of violations of human rights, among others; the arbitrary detention and harassment of journalists and human rights activists, an endless emergency law to arrest people without any charge, detain prisoners indefinitely and limit freedom of expression. Quite a choice, eh? You and your international lobby should stop playing the role of lecturers and guardians of democracy.
On the other hand, the American people need not only to congratulate the Egyptian people for their quest for justice and freedom but also to apologize for their country’s constant support of the Mubarak regime. This is what their government had created with their taxes of billions for foreign aid. America supports strong men who will ensure that their country acts as a ‘client state’ to the US. Mubarak is no longer a strong man. The US government is the perfect definition of hypocrisy. Any world superpower is still ultimately powerless if the people refuse to recognize it!
What I cannot believe is how the West has supported this type of regime — also in so many other countries. We constantly talk democracy but always place our personal selfish interests above it all.
“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises; for never intending to go beyond promises; it costs nothing.” Edmund Burke