Been Traveling around Egypt for the last 10 days. Posts have been limited due to the lack of Internet in the areas I visited. Not to worry though, have returned to Cairo and will continue my posts.
Egyptians have not had much to smile about in recent years. Economic stagnation, rising unemployment, and high inflation have left Egyptians wondering just what exactly happened to their once great country. They see the development of nations such as India, Brazil, and Turkey and ask themselves "why are we lagging behind?" Certainly, these nations do not possess any resources that Egypt lack. They do not owe their growth to a sudden discovery of oil like the gulf nations. Nor do these states depend on over a billion dollars of US aid every year in order to sustain their livelihood. While these nations have grown into regional powers in recent years, Egypt's influence in the Middle East has dwindled and is almost non-existent today. So much so that the vacuum of power left by Egypt is being filled by 2 non-Arab neighbors, Turkey & Iran.
Yet who is to blame for Egypt's malaise in recent years? In a Democracy, the responsibility always falls with the people. Yet in an authoritarian state, which Egypt clearly is, the responsibility falls with the dictator. That's why Egyptians couldn't help but smile when news broke that Hosni Mubarak is terminally ill, battling a bout of pancreatic cancer which is, in 99% of cases, fatal. Though rumors had been circulating around Egypt for some time that the 82 year old dictator was ill, foreign intelligence agencies, most likely CIA and Mossad, have recently turned these rumors into reality.
I could almost see the relief in people's eyes when relaying the news of their president's condition to them. One man, after being informed of Mubarak's condition, held his hands up and looked to the heavens as if praying for it to be true. Another, uttered the Arabic phrase "fi siteen dahya", loosely translated into "good riddance". Not many Egyptians feel sympathy for the dying president, and why should they? What has Mubarak done for them in his 30 years of running Egypt into the ground?
The question then arises as to who will take over as Egypt's ruler. According to the Egyptian constitution, elections shall be held within 2 weeks if the president dies while in office. Given the draconian restrictions on who may run for president, specified in article 32 of the Egyptian constitution, there is really only one candidate who stands out as most likely to be Egypt's next ruler: The presidents son, Gamal Mubarak. As to whether or not Gamal will do a better job than his father in running Egypt, this is a hard question to answer. Hosni Mubarak has after all, set the bar very, very low.