Stuff You Should Know: The Crisis in Egypt

egypt mainIf you’re like us, you know three things about Egypt: pyramids, King Tut and how to pose like an Egyptian when you’re feeling especially frisky (or drunk.) Most of us pretty much stopped paying attention to Egypt once we got past the part where pharaohs married their sisters.

It turns out incest weddings have nothing to do with all the drama going on over there right now. Here’s the 411 on what’s up with Egypt.

1. Egypt is a Technically a Republic

egypt flagBut like Tomkat’s marriage, it’s in name only. In 1981, Hosni Mubarak was vice president of Egypt when his bossman Anwar El-Sadat was assassinated. And contrary to what you’re probably thinking, Mubarak didn’t just declare himself “evil dictator for life,” he won four successive elections by popular vote. Democracy!

This is the part where we should probably mention that until 2005, it was illegal for anyone to run against the Egyptian president. And even in 2005, it wasn’t advisable to run against him, since the elections were 100% rigged. The one guy with the cajones to oppose Mr. Mubarak was actually sentenced to five years hard labor on a trumped up forgery charge. Shenanigans!

2. And America is Technically on His Side

obama and mubarakIn 1972, Mubarak’s predecessor switched Egypt’s allegiance from the USSR to the US, and we’ve been giving Egypt about $2.2 billion a year ever since. Half of that money goes into their military, but more on that later.

3. And Then Mubarak’s Son Started Acting Like a Boss

gamal mubarakWhich was a bad move, because once again, Egypt is not an incestuous dynasty anymore. Gamal Mubarak had been groomed for assuming the presidency since 2000, and in 2009 started making economic announcements like he was next in line for the royal throne that didn’t exactly exist. Imagine if the littlest Obama girl got all up in our grills telling us about her new plans for overhauling the tax code. We’d probably listen, because she looks like she’s got some good ideas, but still. It’s not right.

4. The Current Brouhaha Started With Wikileaks

assangeHere’s how it went down:

  • Wikileaks released cables exposing corruption in the Tunisian government.
  • Tunisians read the cables, got pissed and got their protest on.
  • It worked! Tunisian dictator for life fled with a buttload of gold on January 14, 2011.
  • Egyptian neighbors thought they could duplicate Tunisia’s neat disappearing despot trick and started their own on January 25, 2011.

5. Egyptians Used Social Media to Coordinate a Wicked Awesome Flash Mob

twitter-follow-achieverThey just forgot the show tunes and jazz hand choreography. Tens of thousands of protesters poured into Cairo last Tuesday, and they used the Internet to spread the protest word. Which was why the government shut down all but one Internet provider by Friday. As of Saturday, 8-12% of the population was back online. The good news is some European activists are somehow offering dial-up Internet access to their Egyptian brothers-in-arms. We don’t know how, it’s a mystery.

6. Things Took a Turn For the Nasty

egypt violenceBy Sunday night over 100 Egyptians had died during protests, with about 2,000 injured. The 4 pm to 8 am curfew wasn’t helping matters, either, because protesters hold it with the same regard as a slutty girl holds her panties on prom night. Protesters are clashing with the police, who are Mub’s personal security forces, but not the army, who seems to be holding back and gearing up for a transfer of power. The army, after all, is largely funded by the US, and is representative of the entire country of Egypt, not just one regime. So, apparently they’re the good guys in this saga so far.

7. Chain, Chain Chaiiiiin, Chain of Cools

artifactsWhat? You didn’t know “cools” was the new word for heroic cultural preservationists? Where’ve you been? EGYPT?

Ask any full-time rioter and they’ll tell you the same thing: looters ruin every mob scene. And there’s a lot of priceless stuff to loot in Egypt, like mummies and gold. Which was why a human chain of young activists wrapped themselves around the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to protect their cultural heritage from bad guys. And it was a good thing, because those bastard looters tried to make off with actual mummy heads before the human chain USED THEIR STOLEN POLICE BATONS to stop them.

Now we’re so in love with Egypt we’re going to marry it.

8. Obama is Scoring Points on Egypt

Barack ObamaFinally, right? And his praise is coming from the GOP of all places.

At this point, President Obama has been really cautious with his words. On the one hand, we’re all for democracy and all against 30 year oppressive dictatorships. On the other hand, the US has been funding that particular dictatorship because we need a friend in the Middle East. On the other other hand, we really don’t want an Iran springing up in North Africa, and unless we know what the next regime will be, it’s best to keep our cards close to the chests. So, apparently conservatives are all “Good job on not blowing your top, guvna” to Obama, because one, they know how fast things can escalate and how bad it is to be on the wrong side of history, and two, they all turn into cockney street vendors when the chips are down.

Look it up. It’s a fact.

9. Oh But Wait. The Next Regime is Settled.

elbaradeiAt least, the opposition has selected a guy to get behind. His name is Mohamed ElBaradei, and he has a Nobel Peace Prize, so that’s a good start. Then again, so does Yassir Arafat, so take that for what it’s worth. The interesting thing is that secular and Muslim opposition groups negotiated together to select a leader, and this is who they picked. He has a law degree, has worked with the United Nations, has been in charge of the International Atomic Energy Agency and has gone on record as stating “Israel would be utterly crazy to attack Iran.” So there’s that.

10. Unless the Next Regime is Headed By This Other Guy

suleimanThe guy that Mubarak actually named as his vice president and probable successor, Omar Suleiman. Omar is a lifelong army guy, so this otherwise neutral army would probably follow him if he succeeds Mubarak. He’s also best buds with Mubarak, so it might be hard for the Egyptian people to swallow a Mub 2.0 president. Some experts think he’s in the process of actually negotiating a graceful exit for his boss, which is awesome if he only assumes the presidency until the next democratic election.

Then again, that’s exactly how Mubarak got his start, isn’t it?