New Book Argues End Is Near for Mubarak’s 26-Year Rule in Egypt
|Thursday, September 25,2008 14:21|
|By Mohamed Elshinnawi|
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In his new book, The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Volatile Mid East, Egyptian-American writer Aladdin Elaasar offers the next American president his blunt assessment of Egypt"s near-term outlook. Elaasar believes President Hosni Mubarak, America"s "strong man" in Egypt and the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. military and development aid, is losing his grip on power after 26 years of autocratic rule.
Elaasar says the situation in Egypt today reminds him of Iran just before the 1979 overthrow of the Shah by Islamic fundamentalists. "Mubarak reminds me of the last days of the Shah," the author says. "He was living a life of extravagance and surrounded by his elites. He was so oppressive. And that paved the way for the extreme right to come in. And we know the rest of the story."
In The Last Pharaoh, Elaasar writes that the next American president can expect one of several difficult scenarios to unfold in Egypt in the months ahead. "The Mubarak regime is preparing itself for the next step," the author explains, "which is making his son, Gamal Mubarak, to be the next president of Egypt. But the other scenario that can play out is that there are other political powers, so it could be the extreme religious right that can take over, or things can get out of control because of the poverty level and the suffering of the Egyptian people, so the people in the street can do something when things reach a very desperate level."
Author Alaadin Elaasar urges the next American president to shift U.S. policies on Egypt toward strategies that promote democracy in the country.
"We really need to make sure that there would be democracy and change," Elaasar warns, "because if this does not start, people reach the extent of desperateness. And then desperateness breathes out all kinds of violence and all kinds of extremism that opens the door for extremists to jump in and pretend they have the solution."
The author says the worst-case scenario in Egypt would be a military coup, which would turn Egypt into what he describes as a "God-knows-what" regime.
Elaasar"s belief in the imminent collapse of the Mubarak government is not shared by the former U.S Ambassador to Egypt, Nicholas Veliotis, who served under U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Ambassador Veliotis says he hopes the Mubarak government will respond to the Egyptian people"s powerful yearnings for democracy. But whether it does or not, Veliotis does not expect the Mubarak regime to go the way of the Shah of Iran.=2
0"I personally do not see anything happening like what happened in Iran," he says. "I
believe there are broader institutions in Egypt. They were not in Iran. We are not dealing with a pre-Iranian revolution situation. If you ask my view, I think the successor, whoever it is, should be a civilian. Egypt is far beyond the time when it needs another general to come in."
The veteran American diplomat believes the political scenarios facing Egypt today are neither as stark nor as limited as those described by Alaadin Elaasar in his new book, The Last Pharoah. With the support of the U.S. and the international community, Veliotis says, Egyptians might not have to choose between the Mubarak regime or the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, but could instead pursue a middle path toward a peaceful, stable democracy.
Whatever the fate of the Mubarak regime, author Alaadin Elaasar believes significant change in Egypt"s government will have profound effects on the region, and on U.S. interests in the Middle East. For that reason, he believes, the next U.S. President will need to follow developments in this Arab nation with a watchful and wary eye.