Muslim Matters


By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Homestead FL–February 3rd–I am writing this day from this overgrown farm town just south of Metropolitan Miami and a short hike east to the Everglades to the west and south to the northern Florida Keys (Islands) which snake slowly southwest towards Cuba.

I’ve been fairly isolated from many of my constant news sources to which I have access at home in Berkeley, and must depend on CNN (which I do not hold as one of the better news gathering organizations), and three news wires I can retrieve here through my computer.  Therefore, my words will be more-or-less ex aqua.

As I write, what we are seeing in the Arab (mostly Islamic) world is nothing less than a sea change.  It is hard to determine a definite pattern at present, but when I shall file this article with The Muslim Observer after closing on Monday (the seventh), I hope patterns will have become more apparent.

What is certain is that there has been a successful (self-generated) regime change in the Maghreb’s Tunisia.  At the moment that country seems to have found a temporary stability, but its internal politics must form this nation into a new type of Commonwealth over time.  Tunisia under its ancien regime was one of the most developmentally/economically successful nations in the Arab-speaking world, but it had to do so at the cost of repression.  Even with its financial achievements, it’s fiscal accomplishments had not “trickled down” enough to those portions of their society who needed it the most — especially the youth.  Tunis will be faced with building a society that can combine political and economic consensus into a better balance.

At the moment we are being ripped a part by what must be described as a “revolution” that has degenerated into a civil war within the Egyptian landscape.  The “Pharaohonic” Mubarak government has been holding together a corrupt, crony body politic for the last thirty years.  For these three decades, the Mubarak administration had ruled through repression — most markedly through rigged polls.  The — until the last “elections” — largest opposition party in the Parliament in Cairo has been the Muslim Brotherhood.  Almost for certain, if a free and fair election were held today, the democratically-principled Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (party) would probably win enough of a plurality of the vote, and would be able to form at least a Coalition if not manage the 26 Governorates (Provinces), or the hinterlands from of Cairo (and to a lesser extent) Alexandria.  The government of  Egypt consists of a semi-Presidential system where the President  (Mubarak) with the Prime Minister (i.e., the civic CEOs) form the Executive, but in actually the President is the head of State and head of the ruling party, the NDP (the National Democratic Party) has dominated Egypt for the last forty years.  The  National Democratic Party was established by the late (assassinated in 1981) Anwar Sadat during 1978. 

Since Sadat’s murder, it has been chaired by (President) Hosni Mubarak; and, thus, is the foundation for his authority.  The NDP has been in ascendance since its founding.  The government enforces State dominance which is executed by an appalling police establishment.  The Legislative power is vested by both the administration and the People’s Assembly.  The Party (NDP) was a member of the Socialist International, whose membership goes back to the great President Nasser’s ideology of Arab (liberation), but the National Democratic Party  was expelled by the Socialist International in 1989.

The rock spine of the Egyptian State has been the Army, and so far has remained neutral in the street battles to the point of refusing to help any individual in trouble on the street, and at one point separating the two sides of the Old Order and the New, but questions remain if there are divisions between the officers and enlisted men, Uncertainty, the, also, lingers which faction of the military will ultimately determine what direction Egypt’s “ship” of State will sail, but most definitely will be the Army who will determine the future of their homeland.  At the moment their healthy economy has ground to a halt with the societal unrest which may be the exacerbating factor to force the Army to act on behalf of one side or the other.

On the other hand, the police are universally hated, for they have tortuously enforced Mubarak’s tyranny, and will have little influence in enforcing a future “Pharaoh.”  In fact, some of them will have little chance for their personal survival if they are tried for their human and civil rights crimes by a future more enlightened government.  At the moment (the seventh) they are torturing journalists and rights workers as well as slaughtering innocent protestors.

The current established despotism is violently employing an ominous scheme of restraining the press and other media.  Is Mubarak planning a horrifying counter-attack that he does not wish the world to see the bloody slaughter?  (Today [February 4th] four officials from the Interior Ministry have been arrested, and the violence has subsided as well as the brutal suppression of the press.  Although Tahirir [“Liberation”] Square has remain peaceful, reported pitch battles have been reported elsewhere in the Capital away from the prying eyes of the foreign and domestic press.)

The United States is deeply involved in this drama and the potential fall out in geo-political balance in the rest of  the Arab world.  Generally, amongst the anti-government demonstrators in Cairo’s square, there has been a considerable rage towards American policy for our alliance with Mubarak and Mubarak’s dependence upon Washington as an enabler because of  D.C.’s desire to protect Israel.  The anti-government protesters are most enraged by Egypt’s peace and co-operation with Tel Aviv itself against their fellow (Palestinian) Arabs.

With the unrest in  Jordan (and even Syria, a hostile State to the Israelis) and the recent take over of Lebanon by Hezbollah, puts an Israeli threat upon the area.  Plus, Yemen destabilization weighs heavily upon U.S.’ regional oil interests — putting the Obama’s foreign policy managers on a tight rope.

Israel stands irrationally against any Muslim Brotherhood governmental involvement as the Israelis opposed the similar  philosophical-political democratic ideology Hamas in Gaza.  Both parties have refused to recognized Israeli Jerusalem’s right to exist.  If Israel should intervene in the political destiny of their Arab neighbors — especially martially — it will most assuredly degenerate truly into “the Mother of All Wars.” 

On the more positive side, the changes that are evolving, hopefully, will garner more support for the Palestinians from their neighboring Arab national entities.  This should pressure the Zionist State for a just settlement upon the (presently) Occupied Territories!


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