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As the dust settles, it has become apparent that Egypt’s “Youth Revolution”, as it is now popularly called, is just the first stage towards the full economic and political emancipation of the Egyptian people. But will the revolutionary winds blow south across the Sahara? From Cairo, Gamel Nkrumah reports that it is unlikely that the winds will cross the Sahara and explains why Egypt was ripe for a revolution.


E


gypt had long become a synonym for the pro- verbial neo-colonial state, America’s chief ally in the Arab world and North Africa. Cairo, under the government of President Hosni Mubarak, was the cornerstone of the US political agenda in


the Arab world. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel and establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.


In spite of Egypt’s impeccable revolutionary credentials under


the late President Gamal Abdul-Nasser, the country continued – under the late President Anwar Sadat and after his assassination by militant Islamists in 6 October 1981, Hosni Mubarak – with the peace treaty with Israel regardless of popular discontent and rejection of the treaty. Egypt thus became a byword for the “sell-out state”. Moreover, the excellent economic and political relations Nass-


er established with African states south of the Sahara soon drifted into oblivion. Egypt progressively distanced itself from African affairs. President Mubarak rarely turned up at African Union summits, dispatching successive foreign ministers to represent his country, a far cry from the days of Gamal Abdul-Nasser. Worse, Egypt cultivated the animosity of the Nile Basin


countries such as Ethiopia and several of the Great Lakes na- tions because of Cairo’s deliberate disregard for the water rights of upstream Nile Basin nations. Instead of cementing economic and commercial relations with Africa south of the Sahara, Mubarak’s government ignored Africa and African affairs. Te Egyptian security apparatus and police force treated


black African residents in the country with utter contempt and cultivated a racist attitude among the authorities and populace at large. Africans were routinely rounded up, incarcerated and summarily deported. As a result, they lived in terror of police repression, abuse and deportation. Te massacre in 2005 of Sudanese refugees in Mostafa


Mahmoud Square in Mohandiseen, a suburb of Giza, was the culmination of a decade of oppression of Africans by the Egyp- tian authorities. Mubarak strengthened ties with his Western benefactors, especially the US and EU countries. Africa became irrelevant in Egyptian foreign policy priorities, even though Africa, and especially the Nile Basin nations, represented the strategic depth and lifeline of Egypt because of its utter reliance


New African March 2011 | 9


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