An Open Letter to the April 6th Youth Movement
To the members of the April 6th Youth Movement.
I've been following the events in Egypt since the end of January and I completely support the push for freedoms your people are seeking. It started with Tunisia, and now the Egyptian people have captured the world's attention in ways which are indescribable. There is no doubt to anyone with a clear heart that justice is on your side. You have suffered and are suffering the brutal repression of a regime who's purpose is to keep a few people in power and wealth. The evidence is all too clear with what's been posted on the Internet. I see in true horror the shootings of civilians and the beatings of your citizens by the governing forces of your country who's job is to protect you, not kill you.
The dam has been broken, and the public sentiment has flooded your country. The will of your people is now pushing you forward looking for the justice deserved by the Egyptian people. Your struggle is just beginning.
I am watching your struggle from afar, hoping that every day you take one step closer to your goal of turning your country into one in which people can live the free life which every citizen in this world deserves.
But as I watch from afar, sorting through all the tweets, facebook pages, news reports, columns in the major news papers, I despair at the huge task you have in front of you. Here's what I see.
For over 50 years a military dictatorship has taken root in your country. The military is totally embedded into your governance. All senior government posts are run by your generals.
The same military top brass who are running the country have also amassed incredible wealth. I'm sure if its all added together it would be well over 100 billion dollars. ($100,000,000,000)
The same regime has fostered friends with other countries around the world and is embedded in what the media terms "The security of the region". Obviously the United States is the biggest partner, spending over a billion dollars a year subsidizing the military infrastructure. With the tensions caused by the formation of Israel after WWII, and the history of repression across the region, you are at the epicentre of what could explode into our next world war. The developed countries and new emerging economies are all addicted to oil as their primary source of energy, (US, Europe and now China, India, Brazil....) Add to this the nuclear ambitions of your neighbours in Iran.
In order for the current regime to stay in power, it has developed a secret police which uses brute force against its people, intimidating them to stay silent so that they don't protest the injustices which they are subjected to. This kind of oppression has been practised through out history. The results is that all voices of opposition have been silenced.
And this brings me to my last observation. Egypt has been left with no credible persons or groups which could run the country if given the chance. The people of Egypt are clearly crying out for change right now, but at this very moment, change would lead to a complete void, or at least this is the perception which I see from outside. If military institutions step out, who steps in? If Hosni Mubarak and Omar Suleiman step down, you still have the military institution in place, and have only gotten rid of two people. The military is still in charge of all the major government institutions, the very core of your governance infrastructure. This would still be the case if the parliament was dissolved.
To change Egypt from one in which the billionaire's club run the country from behind the might of their military machinery put in place over many decades, to one in which the citizenry run the country will require a major paradigm shift. Remove the military from the government positions of law and policy making and hand it over to the citizenry of Egypt. In effect invert the military from being the boss of the people to the people being the boss of the military.
The people who are in power, will not let it go. They will use every means at their disposal to block any attempts to change the status quo. I have seen their methods exposed over that past couple of weeks. This include brute force intimidation including kidnapping, torture and murder. This further includes deception, half truths, stalling, controlling of public perception, and influencing world governments through ties forged through working relationships and through lobbying efforts. It is very clear that handing over control of the government to the head of the secret police, the same person in charge of suppressing your freedoms for the intent of keeping the military establishment in power, and claiming he will speed through reforms which will eventually remove the military establishment from power is clearly a falsehood.
With the challenge ahead clearly laid before you, it is time to start planning how to execute a program of change. It can be done, but it will require the involvement of all the citizens of Egypt including all its institutions which are supporting your cause.
First of all, one needs to plan how to run the country in the absence of Mubarak and Suleiman during the interim period between them leaving and the establishment of your new constitution and the elections needed to reform the government under a citizens rule. Someone needs to be able to step in and take charge.
During the interim period, you will need to find a group of people to work on drafting a new constitution, which will change your country from one run by the military to one run by its citizens.
Finally, you will need to promote the citizens to take charge by forming parties and running for office under your new democracy.
This cannot be done over night, but it can be done.
It is critical that your organize beyond mass demonstrations to achieve this goal. Peaceful demonstrations at the scale which are now occurring is your weapon of change. But you need to back it up with a credible plan of action in order to effect the change your citizens are crying for. It is critical that you find the person or persons who can step into the power vacuum left by Mubarak and Suleiman, the people who can draft a new constitution, and finally the people who can promote the citizens to run for the new parliament legitimized through free and fair elections.
If you, and the citizens of Egypt can establish a clear path on how to move forward, including the management of this very delicate and critical period of major change, then announce it to the world and the world will give you all the support you need. The democratic institutions will come to your aid.
As I watch from afar the events unfolding in Egypt, my hopes are with you, the Egyptian citizens, and all those who work together to form your new country. One in which you can enjoy the same freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which I enjoy.
I leave you with a passage of our own declaration of independence.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
Good luck and God's speed.