Only two days after cheering began in Egypt’s Tahrir Square following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, it now appears that the celebrations of the Egyptian democratic revolutionary movement have begun to give way to the realization that while many low ranking soldiers in the Egyptian Army are likely sympathetic to the protesters, higher ranking Army officers are not only not on the side of the revolution but see it as a threat to their military junta.
This short clip from Reuters shows physical confrontations and shoving matches as the Army attempts using force to clear Tahrir Square of demonstrators.
“Egypt’s new military administration and the pro-democracy protesters who brought down Hosni Mubarak are at odds over the path to democratic rule”, notes Chris McGreal in a UK Guardian article: “The army sought to stave off pressure from jubilant protesters to swiftly hand power to a civilian-led administration by saying that it was committed to a ‘free democratic state’.
McGreal also notes, to the credit of the Egyptian protesters who are not giving up, that although “The military leadership gave no timetable for the political transition, and many of the demonstrators who filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square for 18 days rejected the military’s appeal to dismantle the barricades and go home.“
After a day of up and down rumors Thursday beginning with widespread anticipation in Egypt and around the world that Mubarak would step down, followed by a defiant speech Thursday evening in which he flatly refused the demands of protesters and said he would stay on as president of Egypt until his term ends in September, it now appears that Mubarak has indeed finally bowed to pressure and resigned.
UPDATE #1: The Austin, Texas based “global intelligence company” Strategic Forecasting, Inc. – STRATFOR – issued a short emailed “Red Alert: Mubarak Resigns, Military is in Charge” Friday morning, hinting they have intelligence of a military coup in Egypt…
Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivered the following statement Feb. 11: “In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody.”
Suleiman’s statement is the clearest indication thus far that the military has carried out a coup led by Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It is not clear whether Suleiman will remain as the civilian head of the army-led government. Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is to what extent the military elite will share power with its civilian counterparts.
“People here are not afraid anymore – and it just may be that a woman helped break that barrier of fear”, writes Mona El-Naggar in her February 01 NYT article Equal Rights Takes to the Barricades: “Asmaa Mahfouz was celebrating her 26th birthday on Tuesday among tens of thousands of Egyptians as they took to the streets, parting with old fears in a bid to end President Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian, single-party rule.”
“As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance, then there will be hope”, Ms. Mahfouz said bluntly in an impassioned video posted on YouTube January 18. She spoke straight to the camera and held a sign saying she would go out and protest to try to bring down Mr. Mubarak’s regime, noted El-Naggar.
Asmaa “is a member of the April 6 Youth Movement, which has been using the Internet to organize protests against Egypt’s authoritarian government since 2008. As protests against President Mubarak continued to grow, the group called Monday for a ‘march of millions’ and an indefinite general strike. The next day, Mubarak announced he would not seek reelection at the end of his term in September.”, writes Eric Dolan at RawStory Feb 02, who also notes that “Mahfouz made the video after four Egyptian men set themselves on fire. The men were apparently inspired by the example of Tunisia, where a self-immolation triggered protests that eventually led to the ouster of the nation’s president.”
Although Asmaa spoke in her native Egyptian language in her video, an English subtitled version was later posted to YouTube Feb. 02, 2011 by Iyad El-Baghdadi, subbed by Ammara Alavi:
In Cairo, Egypt today hundreds if not thousands of thugs suspected to be on the payroll of either the police or Egypt’s internal security, on behalf of the embattled Hosni Mubarek, in some form or another attacked peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square and other parts of Cairo.
Paul Jay of The Real News Networks talks here with Khaled Fahmy, professor and chair of American University in Cairo’s Department of History about the unfolding events in Cairo and plans for more massive anti-Mubarek demonstrations this Friday. Fahmy describes in graphic detail the current events on the street in Cairo, as he marched with the protesters.
Paul Jay of The Real News Network talks with Egyptian Activist Mohammed Ezzeldin, a graduate of Cairo University (B.A. in political science). Ezzeldin is studying for his master’s degree in history at Georgetown University. This video was released by The Real News on 29 January 2011. The text below the video is an edited partial transcript of the interview.
Mohammed Ezzeldin: The Egyptian people trust the army over the police,
but Mubarak is still commander-in-chief
Mohammed Ezzeldin: We have two main scenarios now regarding the relation between the people and the army. We have the Tunisian scenario. There’s a division in the ruling elites, there is division in the regime, so the army will be neutral: the tanks and soldiers and officers in the streets, they are just maintaining the security of the people, they are securing the people from any brutality practiced by the police. This is the first scenario, the Tunisian scenario. The second scenario, which happened in Iran in [1978-]1979: when the Shah started to give orders to the army to involve themselves, to suppress demonstration against the Shah, and asked them to shoot the demonstrators, they did so. But after a while there was a huge division and severe division inside the army. And this moment, actually, it’s a turning point in any dictatorship when the army supporting the dictator or supporting the one ruling party suffers from a division. We don’t know, we don’t have clear information about what’s going on in Egypt, how the events in coming days are going to unfold. The chief of staff of the Egyptian army was here on a visit to the United States just one day before the demonstrations broke out. And it seems, for many commentators and many people who analyze the situation, that there’s a sort of behind-the-scene negotiations between the Pentagon and the Egyptian army or the Egyptian ministry of defense. One of the newspapers yesterday just published a piece of news about this, about these bilateral talks, because these people are very crucial and very cautious about what’s going to happen, because many people in Egypt, or the majority of the Egyptian people, understand that the army, having millions of dollars every year as an aid –.
Paul Jay: Yeah, we think it’s $1.3 billion of American aid, although do we know if that’s all goes to the military? Or does some of that go to the police?
Mohammed Ezzeldin: Most of them go to the military, I guess. But, you know, the budget of the military and the budget of the police are not discussed, and they are not publicly published or even discussed in the Parliament. So I don’t have clear information about it. But what I’m sure about: that these bilateral talks actually are going to ensure one thing that the United States and the Pentagon and the White House, of course, are interested in, which is the security of Israel. The indecisive situations and positions taken by Hillary Clinton and President Obama in the last two days actually shows one thing, one clear thing, to be frank: that the United States is not interested in any democracy or grassroots democracy or program of democracy in Egypt. Their main concern is the security of Israel — and other things, but this is their main concern, okay?
Paul Jay: The Egyptian army, given that it gets $1.3 billion a year — that’s a lot of money and it buys you a lot of generals — the Pentagon must have a lot of influence inside the Egyptian army.
Mohammed Ezzeldin: I don’t know, but maybe. We can expect a lot of things. But what actually was clear today from Mubarak’s speech: he’s completely consolidated and supported by the army.
Paul Jay: He didn’t look like someone afraid that he might have to get on a plane.
Mohammed Ezzeldin: Yeah, he was completely confident and completely unaffected and disconnected from reality. What happened actually made many people feel in the streets that the army . . . might play a role in suppressing Egypt’s road to democratization.
Paul Jay: And if they do that, it’s hard to believe they would do that without some kind of green light from the Pentagon here in Washington.