Egypt Needs Reform Now

Thursday, 03 Feb 2011 09:00 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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Violent clashes erupted in Egypt between the anti-Mubarak groups and the pro-Mubarak groups. Some of the pro-Mubarak groups attacked demonstrators while riding on horses and camels thundering through Cairo's Liberation Square.

Molotov cocktails have been lobbed against both sides. The mayhem and chaos can become uncontrollable in the near future.

It is clear that violent approach of the pro-Mubarak groups — who may or may not be supported by some elements in the government — was completely the opposite of the initial peaceful demonstrations of the anti-Mubarak groups.

The violence of the pro-Mubarak elements changed the climate from peaceful to violent and could spread in others areas.

Protesters were not satisfied with President Hosni Mubarak's promise that he will not run for the coming election simply because he promised that he would not seek a third term (he is now in his fifth) when he came to power in the early 1980s.

Many Egyptians — including myself — heard this promise in one of his speeches to the nation. Citizens are not ready to trust him.

Protesters also do not like that the election brought nearly 100 percent of parliament seats to Mubarak supporters.

Mubarak could have avoided the entire disaster and protected the country from a possible bloody case scenario if he left power yesterday or within a few days to prove to the people of Egypt that his promise is serious this time.

The military must simply choose between protecting Mubarak or protecting Egypt.

Islamic elements supported by Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran may seize this opportunity and put an end to the country as it currently exists. In fact, radical Islamists have been seen damaging ancient Egyptian historical monuments — which are seen by them as “idles” that must be destroyed.

The loss of tourism only adds to the poverty that already exists in the country. In turn, this poverty can only increase Islamic radicalism.

Absent the hope that change can happen peacefully, and given the unavoidable economic crisis that will certainly follow and the possible role for Islamists, doom is on the horizon for the country.

As I am writing this, demonstrations are erupting once again outside Cairo.

To avoid total destruction, here's what must be done:
  • Military in Egypt must remove Mubarak from power now.
  • The Military must inform the people of Egypt that they will investigate the rumors that the Mubarak family used the power of the president to steel from Egypt.
  • Implement Marshal law for short period of time and enforce it.
  • Restore the Internet and the banking system to resume normal activities. (This can give people in Egypt a desperately needed hope which is vital to create stability in this situation.)
  • Send emergency food to those who are unable to get any. (If the U.S. began doing so now it would be the first country to do so.)

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