The civil unrest in Egypt is as much of an economic revolution as it is a political one, Rutgers University political science professor Eric Davis, who specializes in the Middle East and spent nearly four years living in the now riot-torn country, told International Business Times.
He added that the revolutionary unrest in Egypt is similar to the turmoil that sparked the French Revolution in the 19th century and the Bolshevik revolution at the beginning of the 20th century.
“(The uprisings) have very absolutely been more of an economic revolution as well as a political one,” said Davis. “This is really about young people who feel they have no hope for the future as they see unemployment, corruption and nepotism in their government.”
He added that the U.S. currently sends Egypt $1.3 billion per year in aid, almost all of which is spent on the military, Mubarak and his family, and on the nation’s wealthy.
Davis believes that a democracy in Egypt would benefit both the U.S. and Israel, although Egypt, under the rule of president Hosni Mubarak, has helped Israel contain the radical Palestinian factions of Hezbollah and Hamas.
“The longer we continue to support Mubarak and his dictatorial government, the worse off we might be,” said Davis. “Mubarak allows police to torture its citizens. The more we antagonize the people, the more we should worry about the very scenarios we saw in Iran and Afghanistan during the 1980s. Now is the moment for the US to show its true colors in Egypt and the Middle East and come out for democracy.”
Davis firmly believes that a radical Islamist regime would not take over Egypt if —and when— Mubarak leaves office.
“While it is true that the Muslim Brotherhood and even more radical Salafi groups in Egypt seek to exploit the uprising, they did not initiate it. Rather, it was the Egyptian youth, most of whom do not have an Islamist agenda,” he noted.
He added that the Muslim Brotherhood, which could take over from Mubarak, is not as radical and is in fact more progressive than people might believe.
“I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood is a monolithic organization,” he said. “Younger members don’t want to take orders from the elderly leadership. They want to participate in the process of bringing democracy and even have women involved in that process.”
Davis speculated that another leading candidate could be Ayman Nour, the discredited leader of the al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party. Nour is a pro-democracy candidate who ran against Mubarak in 2005 and won about 8 percent of the popular vote.
Later, however, Nour was arrested and imprisoned for five years on charges of voter fraud during the election – charges that many outsiders believe, but could never prove, were concocted by Mubarak in order to get rid of his opposition.
Currently, Mubarak, is expected to speak this evening, possibly to offer his resignation.