Friday, March 24, 2017

Hosni Mubarak is free

This is more about symbolism than anything else. Mubarak has been technically in prison for the last few years. But his prison was a "military prison hospital," which actually was a pretty luxurious place to be. People were free to visit Mubarak, he had a nice room with a view of the Nile and he had restaurant food delivered, etc, It was a far cry from what it is like in an actual Egyptian prison. Actually, I bet the "prison hospital" was better a regular Egyptian hospital too. Sure Hosni couldn't leave, but it isn't clear how much mobility he has these days (I suspect now that he is free, he will rarely, if ever, leave his mansion). And with the world free to come to him, with free access to newspapers and internet, he wasn't really that confined.

Symbolically it is important. Freeing Mubarak is a signal that the Sisi government is ditching the last vestiges of any claim that its legitimacy is based on the 2011 uprising. Egypt is back on its usual system (at least its usual system for the last half century) of being ruled by a strong man with no real public accountability. The only thing the Arab Spring really accomplished in Egypt is it managed to settle the succession question that hung over the late Mubarak years.