After 18 days of demonstrations and revolts by the Egyptian people, President Mubarak’s sudden departure to the swanky, sun-drenched seaside city of Sharm el-Sheikh (popular with European tourists and ex-pats) seems nearly anti-climatic, though certainly preferential to the increasing violent and vitriolic rhetoric during the last days of the revolt. While Mubarak searches for a new home (probably in a locale where he hopes to escape persecution by the International Criminal Court) and the celebrations continue in Egypt, the world watches with wary eyes to see how the military will handle the transition. Will it be a true democracy or merely a continuation of Mubarak’s policies under the guise of new leadership?

Amid Egypt’s uncertain future, the reverberations of this successful  revolution ripple uneasily around the Middle East. Further, in the face of an unprecedented government lockdown on modern technology (i.e., the Internet and mobile phones) by the Egyptian government, innovative techies still managed to create “work-arounds,” thus enabling the outflow of citizen testimonials via Facebook, Twitter, and mobile photos/videos to capture the interest and pressure of the world. A new era definitely dawns: one in which globalized technology seemingly exceeds the power of any individual government. Empowered by Tunisia and Egypt’s victories, could 2011 be the Middle East’s version of Eastern Europe’s 1989?

Finally, in this wave of political uprising, how did the U.S. government “miss” such fervent local antipathy towards Mubarak’s regime? Especially in a post-9/11 world where Islamic fundamentalism has driven U.S. foreign policy? Could it be willful ignorance with a regard to maintaining the semi-stable status quo in the Middle East given American paranoia towards Islamic fundamentalism? Nicholas Kristof states:

“The truth is that the United States has been behind the curve not only in Tunisia and Egypt for the last few weeks, but in the entire Middle East for decades. We supported corrupt autocrats as long as they kept oil flowing and weren’t too aggressive toward Israel.”

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. government ignored warnings by a bi-partisan, non-government organization, The Working Group on Egypt:

“The Working Group on Egypt was formed a year ago…for the purpose of raising the alarm about Mubarak’s crumbling regime and pressing the administration to adopt a different approach…the longer the United States and the world wait to support democratic institutions and responsible political change in Egypt, the longer the public voice will be stifled and the harder it will be to reverse a dangerous trend.”
Alas, we have free advice from an NGO and a bunch ($708.2 billions of bunches for 2011in fact) o’ taxpayer dollars going towards our defense budget—yet we seem consistently surprised by world events. Perhaps the U.S. government should open it’s own Facebook and Twitter accounts to receive accurate and up-to-date intel wall-posts from foreign countries? “Iran sent you a message on Facebook…”

By Dawn Turek

Photo Credit: Even Jins

Written by Dawn Turek