Are you concerned about the Egyptian crisis?

On Cross Country Checkup: Egypt

The continuing turmoil in the streets of Egyptian cities raises a whole series of concerns for the protesters, the country, the region, and the world.

Are you concerned about the consequences of the Egyptian crisis?

With host Rex Murphy.

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It's not often we at Checkup do much the same topic two weeks in a row; it's not often either that a major country of 80 million people are on the verge of what many are calling a revolution - on the verge for over 13 days. But such is the case with Egypt - events there are, slightly, clearer than they were last week; but the streets of Cairo this week have been the scene of continuous protest, much conflict between the pro-Mubarak groups and the opposite; reporters, especially foreign reporters, being held ...and some beaten. It's chaotic and dangerous, but on the resolution of the crisis in Egypt very much is at stake.

Where is it going, in your opinion, is our first question today --- have watched events for the past week, is it clearer to you what the end result may be? Is Mubarak finished as Egypt's dictator; will he last till the fall? Or will he be out in a very short time?

What is the impact, or what will be the impact of events in Egypt and the Middle East on the world economy? Some worry about an interruption of closure of the Suez Canal. We saw late this week that a major gas pipeline in Egypt's northern Sinai Desert, carrying gas toward Israel and Jordan, was blown up, presumably by forces hoping to spread the crisis.

It has been reported today that the Muslim Brotherhood has been invited into talks to discuss how best to end the current standoff. This is a first - the Brotherhood having been proscribed in Egypt for years.

What will be the impact on Israel, if Egypt does have a change of government? Will the peace treaty with the largest country in the Middle East be nullified - or will it continue? What are Israel's main concerns during the current events?

And finally, as we did last week, we'd like to ask if perhaps some people with family or other connections with Egypt, who are in touch with people there, would like to call and offer either updates or reflections on the last few weeks.

Many people are trying to make sense of it all and predict where it is heading. Some say Mubrak, by holding out this long, now has the upper hand. How will he respond in the aftermath? Others say the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is talking to the vice-president is an ominous sign that extremists could take over what originally started as a popular rebellion.
What about the region? What effect will this unrest have on the rest of the Arab world? What will this mean for the role of the US in the middle east? Does Canada have any role to play?

Our question today: "Are you concerned about the consequences of the uprising in Egypt?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • Margaret Evans
    Middle East Bureau Chief CBC News in Cairo.

  • Bessma Momani
    Associate Professor in the departments of Political Science and History at the University of Waterloo and a Senior Fellow at the Centre For International Governance and Innovation, an international think-tank in Waterloo,On.

  • Barry Rubin
    Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. The author of several books including The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East.

  • Raghida Dergham
    Senior correspondent of London-based Arabic newspaper: Al Hayat.


    National Post

    Globe and Mail


    Dar Al Hayat


    Wall Street Journal

    New York Times

    GLORIA Center

    American Thinker

    Sandmonkey (protester blog)


    Daily Beast

    Religious Dispatches


    Israel is the single largest recipient of US aid - many billions per year, even though it is a first world nation and already enjoys a high standard of living.  This money is earmarked for military equipment, and some pays for Israel's colonization of the Palestinian territories - Jewish only settlements and Jewish only roads.  Meanwhile the US's infrastructure is falling apart and its own citizens are being thrown out of their own homes thanks to the deregulation of the banking and insurance industries.  Israel receives these entitlements as well as US veto power in the UN against its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories thanks to its extremely powerful lobby, AIPAC.

     Egypt is the second largest recipient of US aid at around an average of $2 Billion annually, ostensibly as a payoff to act as an ally to Israel.  Remember Egypt is right next door to Israel and very importantly Gaza  - Palestinians are not permitted to escape the humiliating conditions in Gaza, but this could change with a different regime in Egypt.  However it does seem that what Israel wants it gets. 

    Dave Campbell
    Saltspring Island, BC

    Shame on the USA for supporting an autocratic, repressive, cruel, regime, for all these years, never giving a thought to the Egyptian people! Giving $1 billion a year to the Egyptian military to suppress a poor population just to achieve the selfish goals of the USA, Mabarak has taken full advantage of the power and the dollars!

    Let us question the sweet and self-righterous talk about democracy when it is so readily set aside for the protection of Israel, to win American votes when needed. Will honesty ever prevail in politics? The average Egyptian makes $2400 each year, Mubarak has $40 billion in the bank, enough to raise the standard of living of every Egyptian.

    Bill Lawrence
    Victoria, BC

    Thank God for the people of Tunisia and Egypt. They have unblocked the log jam that has been the middle east for decades. The result has been the beginning of democracy not only in their own countries but perhaps in Yemen, Jordan and Algeria as well. No longer can Israel claim to be tha "only democracy in the area" and Israel may now have to consider its own position vis a vis the West Bank. The solution, long obvious to many observers, to dismantle ALL settlements and assist in the formation of a democratic Palestine State may result from this fundamental change in the Arab world.

    Another point that was raised by some of your callers is the position of the Muslim Brotherhood. When we in the west cheered the massive changes in Eastern Europe we didn't voice fears about who would ultimately be part of  democratically elected governments.  We voiced support for democracy itself.  How can we deny the same to the people of Egypt? If the populace wants certain representation, under a democracy they will grt it. The west has played an old game too long. Surely the experience of Saddam, the Shah of Iran, the President of Yemen and now the President of Afganistan has taught us something. Leave the people alone  If we think democracy is good enough for us, ALL of Europe, and most of South America its good enough for the Tunisians, Egyptians and even more peoples of the area.

    Terry Sinclair
    Regina, SK

    The most radical theocracies that exist today are supported or came about due to actions of the western countries. Egypt is a great country with a great people - allow the Egyptians decide how to govern themselves and let the chips fall where they may.

    Jackie Leppard
    Hubbards, NS

    In following all the media clamour about events in Egypt and the mid-east, we hear most commentary focused on "democracy vs. authoritarian systems" of governance. I think this story - though a stimulating, fear-based discussion -  is in many ways ia distraction from a larger reality. Listening today, we hear that underlying problems in Egypt have been desperate and I think a microcosm of other situations in the world.. The brave youth  of Egypt now, as throughout modern history are clearly vested in leading change for greater acountability of their leaders and gaining some hope for a secure future.

    The issue of unrest has a more fundamental undercurrent - the problem probably has more to do with huge economic disparities within and between many countries and a growing class of unemployment or underemployment, rising inflation with millions of lower income people paying greater percentage of available money on food and life essentials. The stark disparities are obvious in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, but we hear from the head of people like the head of the IMF express fears of conflict and war due to growing poverty...and similar trends exist in other countries like South Africa, Venezuela, Croatia, Indonesia, even some European countries and even more worrisome, in countries like China and India.

    Perhaps, it is the leveling effect of information sharing from Facebook and other social media, are now bringing to light, the realities of these growing disparities. We hear about the enormous concentration of power and wealth amongst the elites in the middle-east countries....but we must not forget that huge populations in the countries mentioned are facing the same dilemma. When people are pressed for survival, they fight back - and of course, while ideological opportunists prey on the situation to further their dogmatic agenda, other global opportunists -- perhaps Western countries in particular - seem content to strive only to tweak the status-quo, - many would call a - dysfunctional global monetary system with the ikelihood of a growing protectionist movement, and even more conflict.

    What many believe we need is a major transformation of global economics, with emphasis on a wider range of indicators that reflect basic needs not just GDP and trickle-down economics. This means greater and secure access to food, water, shelter, of the 'renewable', and sustainable form, not more 'dinosaur-thinking' that only favours a small percentage of the world's privieleged few like we Canadians.have!

    I truly hope the freedom-loving countries of the world like Canada, work harder to lead change to overcome economic disparities, not just focused on replacing despots!

    Reg Whiten
    Moberly Lake, BC


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