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Friday, February 11, 2011

When violence is required to change politics

As everyone should already know, Egypt is undergoing a peaceful civil revolt against President (dictator) Hosni Mubarak. I say dictator as he has been in office 30 years, and by no means has been truly freely elected over the entire duration.

I have talked before this revolt to USA Egyptian citizens about their countries politics. The spin I get is the Egyptian government exists primarily through USA political and financial backing. I haven't run into an Egyptian yet that has said they are happy with their homelands government. So it was no surprise to me that civil unrest erupted threating Mubarak's government.

I was rather startled how quickly this unrest turned into the government's very existence is called into question. However by enlarge the protests by the people to basically over-throw their government is relatively peaceful. There has been looting, violence, and clashes with the police. But compared to other government over-throws you could say it's peaceful.

I was expecting the announcement that came about 1pm Thursday that Mubarak was stepping down. Later the same day Mubarak stated that he would not step down. The military has been trying to act neutral, not clashing with protesters unless they broke civil law. I am no expert of the situation in Egypt, but from my standpoint the momentum is too great to ignore, Mubarak must go.

This is a clear case where if change cannot be attained through peaceful means, the public will be forced to violently overthrow their government. And frankly, I think that it is getting close, if not already a justifiable next step. Unfortunately, if Egypt is over-thrown through violence, rather than a negotiated transition, I expect Egypt to become a Muslim state.

Mubarak should have negotiated a transition, ensuring a truly democratic state evolved from his reign. Since he refuses to step aside, the transition will yield an unknown next government. The people will get change, but it remains to be seen if the change is truly better.

A secondary question should be asked, why now? If he has ruled for 30 years, why is this happening now? Again, I am no Egyptian expert. But from my standpoint there are many catalysts, but to me it comes down to....money.

Food prices are rising, and governments that where barely maintaining order lose control of that order as people become angrier of their living conditions. Further, Egypt has historically augmented it's fiscal positioning through Oil sales, among other things. And due to peak oil (in my opinion), Egypt is about to become an oil importer rather than exporter.

I see quite possibly similar civil unrest occurring for countries experiencing similar energy import shifts. Becoming an oil importer rather than exporter is a major financial stress that weaker governments may not transition well.

It boils down to natural resources will grow in cost due to India and China's consumption rate, and the transition will continue to be a colorful one. (Nice picture here of global oil consumption) I hope the Egyptian people ensure a truly democratic government follows President Hosni Mubarak's rule. For if it becomes a Muslim state, the power shift may continue to the rest of the area including Saudi Arabia. And that will bring some extreme change the US lifestyle.

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