The Egyptian blogger, Sandmonkey, has been a cause célèbre on the internet for some time now, bravely offering his views on Middle East issues, liberalism, Egyptian politics and the oppression of the government on its people including the persecution of the Copt minority. Sandmonkey has every right to hope for something better to lie just around the corner, after being oppressed by the Mubarak regime, (he’s had his site taken down back in 2007) who could really blame him? Surely not the Tundra Tabloids.
That said, there has to be a modicum of caution and careful reading of the situation, which at the moment, seems to have been tossed to the side by Sandmonkey. Once again, he has every right to pronounce his views, it’s understandable, but the TT isn’t convinced by his argumentation, and neither is Barry Rubin, who has as much respect for this brave guy as do I, but nonetheless, Sandmonkey’s views concerning a post-Mubarak Egypt have to be addressed.
UPDATE: Sultan Knish has a different opinion of Sand Monkey, and the TT has to admit that he’s got a valid point that was overlooked here. According to the Sultan, Sand Monkey is somewhat the Egyptian version of Curveball.
Barry Rubin does just that:
Egypt: The Most Moderate Democracy Advocate Speaks And Says A Lot
There is no more courageous, sincere, and moderate person in Egypt than the blogger who is known as Sandmonkey. He faced serious harassment under the Mubarak regime and is a big supporter of the democracy movement in his country.
It is interesting to examine some of his recent tweets. I have fixed spelling, put them into paragraphs, and added capitalization but been careful not to alter any of the meaning. My responses are in bold:
“Ok, just so we can calm the nerves of our Israeli twitchy neighbors, let me assure you: we aren’t going go to war with you. The Egyptian army and economy are both not equipped for such battles and we have too many targets for your air force to hit. However, we do have numerical superiority and no fear of death and we can draw this out forever, so don’t think you’re all that [?] either.”
I think his point about war being unlikely, during the next several years, is probably correct, though an Egyptian government can miscalculate–as happened in 1967–and set off a conflict. His last sentence, though, is a reminder that even he might not be entirely sure of peace being durable.
“But there are 3 things you can expect [to] change, and they shouldn’t allow them to alarm you. They have to happen. OK?
“1) The Rafah gate [to the Gaza Strip] will be opened for goods and travel. It will relieve the situation, improve the economy & give us leverage over Hamas. And it will also end the talk about “Gaza under siege” and you know that this is good for you even. Don’t fight it.
Israel won’t fight Egypt’s opening to Gaza because there is nothing Israel can do about it. Personally, I don’t think Egypt is going to have any leverage over Hamas. The Mubarak government tried for many years and couldn’t get either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority to do anything. If there’s a Brotherhood-dominated government, Egypt will become an ally of Hamas; if there’s a radical nationalist government it will be friendly to Hamas and the Brotherhood will smuggle in huge amounts of arms. The idea that this is good for Israel is quite questionable.
“2) You will start paying market price for our gas. Maybe even a markup. You’ve been getting it cheap & we could use the money.”
In principle, that’s ok but two points: First, it sets a bad precedent for the new Egyptian government not feeling itself bound by previous agreements. Second, I think that what will happen (and of course I could be wrong) is that whoever is in power the pipeline will be sabotaged and attacked until it is put out of commission. As we’ve seen before with Arab governments, money isn’t everything especially when it clashes with demagoguery.