This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
So we have come full circle. Ousted President Mubarak is now a free man. Sort of. Here’s how the New York Times announced it:
The judicial authorities in Egypt have ordered the release of former President Hosni Mubarak, who has been detained on a variety of charges since his ouster in 2011, according to state media and security officials on Monday. It remained possible, however, that the authorities would find other ways to keep him in detention.
The development threatened to inject a volatile new element into the standoff between the country’s military and the Islamist supporters of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi as Egypt entered the sixth day of a state of emergency following a bloody crackdown by the military in which hundreds of people have been killed.
It was unclear how Egyptians — particularly those who have welcomed the military action against Mr. Morsi — would respond to the release of a despised autocrat whose downfall united Mr. Mubarak’s secular and Islamist foes. News of the legal maneuvers came at a time of sustained bloodletting.
Amazing how political fortunes change when the power behind the throne sees daylight to extend its power indefinitely. Egypt’s military is baiting the opposition – as it murders them. Last week’s death toll is well over 800. Summary execution seems to be the order of the day.
Whether Egypt’s military can win the day – or in President Obama’s jargon, prepare the change that will take generations – is in doubt. The possibility of democracy has receded. It has all but disappeared. The question now is who will be left standing.
When we get to the last person standing the challenge is to survive. In a war of survival every ethical code is suspended – on all sides. Right now Egypt’s situation is worse than civil war where sides are clearly delineated. On the streets no one knows which side the other is on. Chaos is the result.
Meanwhile the European Union is fulminating to no avail. The Obama administration is second guessing its second guess. Egypt’s leaders are arguing their independence from outside interference as they become more and more dependent on the most despotic regional powers, including Israel.
Light at the end of the tunnel? Not now. Not for a long time.