Egypt's new leaders

The US should throw their full support behind the budding democracy of Egypt and the new movement spearheaded by the yo

    By Alaa Bayoumi

    As ongoing historical events in Egypt unfold, many in Egypt and around the world are uncertain about the future and where it is leading the country. Many are reevaluating their understanding of Egypt and their political alternatives.

    In this context, it is important to realise that a new generation of Egyptian leaders were born - a generation of Egyptian youth who tore down the wall of fear and stood up to Mubarak's notorious security apparatuses, sacrificing hundreds of innocent lives.

    This new generation breathed life into a decaying system and now can never be bottled in again, even if Mubarak or the remains of his collapsing regime cling to power for a few more days, or even years.

    Public revolutions are like wars, and if you fight a war and put your life on the line, you are no longer the same person. You become more courageous, intolerant to injustice, oppression, and those who support them.

    The new Egyptian leaders who are now protecting their families, towns, and their country with their own hands and bare chests are looking for support.

    Most of them were born under Mubarak's rule. They were raised in a humiliated society a country that lost its political and cultural leading status in the region a country led by a corrupt, inefficient regime that lacks vision and aspiration.

    They were taught in a collapsing public education system, watched movies about the deterioration of their country and culture, and witnessed regional wars and upheaval - especially the still ongoing war in Iraq and the wider Middle East conflict.

    Many of them graduated from schools and universities to find an economy dominated by a greedy business elite married to the Mubarak regime. They found fewer jobs that were hardly rewarding. They faced competition from more advantaged kids born to rich families, so the seemingly disenfranchised had to take up low paying jobs in the private sector in order to be able to support their families after losing their older jobs in the newly privatised public sector.

    This younger generation has seen American foreign policy fail in the region, and hasn't forgotten the staunch American support provided to Israel during the 1967 and 1973 wars. They haven't forgotten about the invasion of Iraq in 2003, or America's continued support of Israeli attacks in 2006 on Lebanon and in 2008 on Gaza.

    But being the youth that they are, they still embrace, at times, American culture. They look up to America as a powerful society that is open to technology and new ideas.

    It is imperative that the US act to take advantage of these sympathies exhibited by Egyptian youth in order to really capture their hearts and minds - to show sympathy to their grievances, sacrifices and calls for justice.

    The Obama administration should do more than urging the Mubarak regime for restraint. If America values freedom, democracy, and human rights, it should pressure the Mubarak regime in every way possible to protect the protesters.

    The US must demand the restoration of security and order in Egypt and the speedy trial of the security forces that opened fire at the youth.

    It should see the new movement as it really is: a peaceful, youthful and spontaneous movement that belongs to no political opposition group.

    America should announce its respect to the choices of the Egyptian people and their right to live in a democratic system and to elect their own leaders, regardless of their political ideologies.

    The US should announce it will welcome and support a democratically elected Egyptian regime even if it will make difficult and challenging foreign policies.

    Focusing on issues such as the threat of Islamists, regional stability, and relations with Israel will only reinforce fears of America as a selfish empire unwilling to listen or accept differences.

    The US should open up to a new generation of Egyptian and Arab leaders. It should rejoice in the Middle East's democratic future and leave the region's authoritarian past behind.

    Finally, the US as a foreign country may not find it politically appropriate to call for a regime change in Egypt. But, it should certainly support a fully democratic one.


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