No serious political analyst outside Egypt can claim to know President Hosni Mubarak more than the Egyptians themselves, and they are very people who have been out in the streets, demanding his resignation. They are doing this at the risk of being shot by the regime's thuggish security forces who have been ordered to murder, vandalize, rob and spread chaos and anarchy everywhere in the country, for the purpose of stifling the revolution against tyranny and dictatorship.
Hence, claims that Mubarak is just a benevolent dictator who can maintain stability in a volatile region should be treated with contempt. Interestingly, some of the calls for the West to give Mubarak the benefit of the doubt, presumably until he kills and maims more Egyptians as he exhausts his energies to cling to power are coming from Israel. We could expect little else from the Zionist state, which all too readily adopts fascist-like policies and embraces Arab despots as long as they are soft on Israel but harsh on their own people. Needless to say, the Mubarak regime was one of those rotten regimes which paid great importance to relations with the war criminals running Israel, while harbouring an insensitive and even hostile attitude towards other Arab and Muslim states.
Ever since he first stood at the helm of power nearly 30 years ago, President Mubarak has ravaged his country in every conceivable manner. Under his corrupt and despotic regime, the status and stature of Egypt in the international arena declined to an unprecedented low degree.
Prior to his rule, Egypt had the potential to be an industrial power to rival countries such as South Korea and Malaysia; just look where they are now. Under Mubarak, Egypt is unable to feed its own population of 80 million souls. Israeli arrogance has grown with Egypt under Mubarak, to the point that it has near hegemony in the Middle East. Egypt has come to be considered by Israeli strategists as a satellite state kept on track by the US and its foreign aid.
It is true that Egypt was not an oasis of democracy and prosperity before Mubarak, but the country enjoyed an international stature and national dignity under both of his predecessors, Presidents Gamal Abdul Nasser and Anwar Sadat. Since the 1952 revolution which brought Nasser to power, Egypt had maintained a semblance of sovereignty, despite unrelenting conspiracies by Israel and the west. But when Mubarak succeeded Sadat following his assassination on 6 October, 1981, the first thing he did was basically to hand over Egypt's sovereignty to the United States and Israel; some say that he gave Egypt on a silver platter to the CIA and Mossad. He has since shown repeatedly that he is answerable more to the White House than to his own people, and that he valued the legitimacy that came from Washington's acceptance more than that which came from ordinary Egyptians who have waited for thirty long years in the hope that Mubarak might change his autocratic style of government. However, he has shown that he is not the sort of man who will change of his own volition.
To the chagrin of every Arab and Muslim, Egypt under Mubarak became an impediment rather than an asset, especially over the central issue of Palestine. This scandalous reality was made clear during Israel's brutal assault on and invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 when the Egyptian regime colluded with Israel in the killing and maiming of thousands of innocent Gazans, and the destruction of thousands of homes, mosques and other private and public buildings throughout the coastal enclave.
Gaza cried out for help from its big brother across the border at Rafah. Instead of a helping hand, Mubarak offered more treachery, more perfidy and more betrayal. The Mubarak regime even built an underground steel and concrete wall along the border with Gaza to stop the Palestinians being able to use tunnels to smuggle essential goods and break Israel's siege of the territory.
Much of the depravity of the Egyptian regime is attributed to its pathological hatred and fear of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the reason given for the regime's perfidy against the conscience of the Egyptian nation, from handing over sovereignty to the United States to agreeing to become Washington's watchdog against nationalist and Islamic forces in the region. Now, Mubarak is accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of organizing the revolution in Egypt, a lie that shouldn't be dignified by passing a comment on it.
There is no doubt that the Egyptian regime is living on borrowed time, regardless of whether Mubarak himself stays on for days, weeks or months. The magic has gone. It is up to him, but Mubarak can now choose from the scenarios that brought an end to tyrannical regimes in places like Iran, Rumania and Tunisia. The choice is likely to narrow the longer he hangs on.
He should also know that when the moment of truth arrives, no one will help him, not even his masters in the White House, for whom he has become a liability. As for the other Arab despots, they can't even help themselves; soon they too will face a similar, inevitable fate. Israel should watch the situation closely and learn from it; oppression and brutality have a limited shelf-life, no matter where they exist. Freedom waits for those who struggle with patience and constancy; yesterday it was Tunisia, today it is Egypt could tomorrow be Palestine?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.