Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Unfulfilled Promises: Hosni Mubarak on Trial

Unfulfilled Promises: Hosni Mubarak on Trial

Binoy Kampmark
August 5, 2011

Whether the trial of a once powerful leader in the Arab world signifies a good yield for the spring of revolution remains to be seen. But the appearance of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in the dock during Egyptian TV’s Ramadan special, lying on a stretcher in prison fatigues was not a sight to miss. Spectators, despite initial stages of jeering, were stunned. Egyptian stockbrokers were evidently keeping their eyes on the former leader, given the shedding of value on the stock exchange.

There was certainly much anticipation before hand. The figures of how many military and security personnel would be required to secure the scene of the trial were debated: 8000 or 5000? How many tanks would be required? Where would it be held? The Cairo Convention centre, or perhaps a police academy? In the end, it was the latter that held sway.

Others are keeping company with the accused former leader. His sons Alaa and Gamal Mubarak are accused of abusing power and amassing wealth. Former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six aides are being tried for conspiring to kill protesters while business tycoon Hussein Salem is the only one in absentia being tried for corruption.

Trying high ranking leaders for their crimes is never an easy task. There still remains a school of thought amongst lawyers that putting a leader in the dock for high crimes renders statecraft problematic. The personalised nature of charges obscures the complexity of how decisions are made. But even more striking is how to satisfactorily make a figure account for colossal offences – the ones where thousands perish at the hands of a state policy – that were a product of a vast system. ‘Mubarak,’ as Tony Karon mentions in Time (Aug 3), ‘did not create this regime; the regime, based in Egypt’s armed forces since they overthrew the monarchy in 1952, created Mubarak, choosing the former Air Force chief to lead it in the crisis that followed the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.’

There was even doubt that Mubarak would ever come to trial. The extensive financial involvement of Saudi Arabia in the Egyptian economy has its various caveats. One, as reported in Albawaba.com (Apr 13), was keeping ‘Mubarak away from courtrooms and jails’. The concern often voiced is that no Arab government will want to see the spectacle of a prominent leader in the dock, lest it stimulate further protests in the name of reform. There were even conflicting reports about the freezing of Saudi Prince Bin Talal’s enormous land purchase in Upper Egypt, a purchase that would secure him one percent of Egypt’s total land.

The unsatisfactory nature of the trial is already becoming evident. Mubarak, for one, is only being tried for a brief stint of supposed criminality – the two days in January in which he was said to have given the order to fire on protesters. Added to this brief are charges of corruption (a gas deal with Israel), an all too convenient charge to lodge from accusers who are themselves not averse to such behaviour. Thirty years is an eternity in politics, and to have it shrunk so drastically into this shallow corridor of action is a glaring failing.

While the trial will enable a sense of catharsis to be achieved, the soberly critical will be wary about its long term implications. It is hard to establish the virtues of a trial where the civic institutions to acknowledge the value of such proceedings do not exist. The trial was itself a gift from the military junta, a gesture that pacifies an incensed population without yielding power to them. Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has told Bloomberg television (Aug 3) that the trial in itself is no complete panacea for the country’s chronic problems.

The words of Jordan’s former foreign minister capture the relevance of such matters as the Mubarak trial. ‘One cannot expect this to be a linear process or to be done overnight,’ he explained to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. ‘There were no real political parties, no civil society institutions ready to take over any of these countries [Yemen, Libya, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia]. I do not like to call this the “Arab Spring”. I prefer to call it the “Arab Awakening”, and it is going to play out over the next 10 to 15 years before it settles down.’

*************

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Richard S. Ehrlich: U.S. Sees "Threat" In The Golden Triangle

In Southeast Asia's crime-infested Golden
Triangle, Chinese entrepreneur Zhao Wei is constructing a sprawling
casino resort and airstrip despite being sanctioned by the U.S.
Treasury Department as a "threat to the United States" because of his
"horrendous illicit activities"... More>>



Peter Dunne: The Steadily Eroding Sands Of Credibility

The ever-shifting sands of the Covid19 vaccination programme are increasingly eroding the credibility of this government.
In January the Prime Minister proclaimed that 2021 would be the “Year of the vaccine” – much the same way as she had promised 2019 would be the “Year of Delivery... More>>


The Conversation: Aggressive Marketing Has Driven The Rise Of The Double-cab Ute On New Zealand Streets — Time To Hit The Brakes?

Explore your inner beast.” That was the slogan used last year to sell the Ford Ranger. At 2.4 tonnes, that’s a lot of “light” truck, but the stakes are rising. This year, the 3.5 tonne Ram 1500 “eats utes for breakfast”... More>>




Podcast: Buchanan + Manning On Cyber-Attacks And The Evolution Of Hybrid Warfare

Paul G. Buchanan and Selwyn Manning present this week’s podcast, A View from Afar with a deep-dive into cyber-attacks and hybrid warfare – Especially how 2021 has witnessed a Cold War II styled stand-off between global powers... More>>


Climate Explained: Is New Zealand Losing Or Gaining Native Forests?

Apart from wetlands, land above the treeline, coastal dunes and a few other exceptions, New Zealand was once covered in forests from Cape Reinga to Bluff. So was Europe, which basically consisted of a single forest from Sicily in southern Italy to the North Cape in Norway, before human intervention... More>>




Sydney Mockdown: The Delta Variant Strikes

It is proving to be an unfolding nightmare. For a government that had been beaming with pride at their COVID contract tracing for months, insisting that people could live, consume and move about with freedom as health professionals wrapped themselves round the virus, the tune has changed... More>>