Egypt From The Kitchen – Guest Blogger Neil Kitchen

Egypt…Devil’s Garden

The route from Cairo to Germany has a history of being well traveled by rouges. However, it is ironic that the dictator of Egypt for 30 years would consider fleeing to a country that a relatively short time ago suffered a regime that planted over 20 million land mines in Egypt’s western desert. Devils Garden, as the area is aptly called today, is a vast desert area that embraces roughly two thirds of the entire land area of Egypt.  With the exception of Fayoum, an area irrigated by canals built 3,600 years ago that connect with the Nile, very little produce grows there. It is far too hazardous to develop. Even nomads fear to travel over it. This speaks much of what war leaves as its legacy, but still more about the character and legacy of a leader run out of town by his angry subjects.

Murbarak’s flight from the hands of his own people, unlike Rammel’s retreat from the hands of the British, left Egypt a better place. However, Egypt’s future, like the sands of Egypt’s Alamain, is fraught with danger. After centuries of being controlled by pharos, kings, and dictators its citizens are left in a virtual leadership vacuum. Their struggle to transition from being subjects to citizens will be a long, hard, ugly one. The interests of powerful well established forces in Egypt run counter to the pursuit of liberty for all. Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote seems to speak to the present crisis in Egypt: “A democracy is two wolves and a small lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Freedom under a constitutional republic is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.” Thus far, Egypt’s military has stood by the lamb at the table and neither Islamists nor autocrats appear to be in control of the discussion.

The citizens of Egypt are not alone in their struggle for freedom. Several Mid Eastern countries have given marching orders to their respective autocratic leaders. Like Egypt, Sudan just gave birth to a new nation; Jordan recently dismissed its entire government; protestors fill the streets in Yemen; and, a revolution is in full bloom in Tunisia. It would appear that a good deal of the Mid East has been turned upside down and no one can predict with any degree of certainty that good will emerge from the ruckus. Dictatorships, like weeds, have a way of reemerging after cultivation.

Egypt is a proud secular, culturally ancient, but demographically young nation.  Its young yearn for freedom and equal opportunity. The individual liberty and equality the people in the Mid East now demand is an unwelcome encroachment into the pockets of the well connected elite. In Egypt, just as in many other Mid Eastern countries, the chosen few have for centuries enjoyed prosperity at the expense of individual liberty. They have always fiercely defended their power and station and we should expect nothing less from them in the future. The elite’s vision of democracy does not embrace the mantra for multiparty pluralism, but rather a more “efficient” one party state offering multiple one-party candidates that provide a façade of reform and the illusion of democracy.

As the citizens of Mid Eastern countries travel the path from popular revolt toward democracy, they will do well keep in mind, down the road, “It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.”  Against this backdrop the people of Egypt begin to build a new democratic Egypt. We can only pray the brick and mortar of their newly established government is not hijacked by Islamists or others with an agenda that does not embrace freedom, equality, or liberty.

Neil C. Kitchen is a man with many hats. His first was a cowboy hat. In his youth he punched cattle and rode in rodeos. After graduating from San Diego State University he went into general engineering where for over twenty years he applied his engineering talent to hazardous material cleanup.  He has developed roads in Argentina and has shared his soil science expertise at research stations in Kuwait and Dubai.  He is presently Chief Technical officer for American Soil Technology. If you ask his colleagues you would be told by some Neil is a chemist. Others will tell you he is a soil scientist. He will deny being either just as he will deny being a writer or poet, although he is both.

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