View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 11 February 2011

Friday 11 February

Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak has stood down and has left Cairo for Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort on the Red Sea coast. His departure follows 18 days of protests in the centre of the capital, broadly condoned by the army. Several attempts by Mubarak to placate his opponents by promising to resign later in the year did nothing to assuage his critics. And today, he left office.

It is a victory for the ordinary man and woman of Egypt, all 85 million of them. Nobody from outside was involved, and outside issues did not feature in the protests. It was an impopular and despotic ruler that was the object of protests. The advent of the Internet has made it possible, it has shown Egyptians what is possible. Tunisia, but other places too, has shed its despots. Who will be next? Gadaffi, Assad, the Arabian leaders?

What will happen next is anyone's guess. But it will be a series of decisions that are up to the Egyptians to make. If free and fair elections, promised by the armed forces, result in an Islamic party coming to power, so be it. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed by the late president Sadat and late premier Begin in the 1970s, does not appear to be in jeopardy. Tearing it up is in nobody's interest.

Our wet weather pales into insignificance compared to the momentous events in Cairo today.

Thursday 10 February

A bright and sunny day, which makes a change from the dreich and grey conditions of late.
I kept myself busy compiling a map showing the positions of cemeteries and memorials across the world, where casualties from this island lie buried or are remembered, who fell in WW1 and 2. Unfortunately, Google Maps is not the ideal tool for that, and my internet connection ground to a halt after 6pm. 

Having watched a programme about the natural wonders of Madagascar, the tropical cyclone centre in La Reunion promptly issued a warning that cyclone Bingiza will hit the island in a couple of days from now. As the forecast stands, maximum sustained winds will be at 85 knots, 90 mph.

The saga surrounding the downgrading of coastguard services around the UK coast took another twist, when the CEO of the MCA admitted that local knowledge would be lost if the current plans were to go ahead. Ever more unacceptable.