Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egypt's Protests. What's Next?

Today's NYT report indicates that today's (Wednesday's) protests were smaller, but were occurring throughout much of the country - including Cairo, Alexandria, even as far south as Asyut.  The AP reported a total of 860 protesters arrested.  Also, at least four have been killed, including 3 protesters, and undoubtedly, many more protesters have been hurt, as security forces are going after with them with batons and bamboo sticks, as well as tear gas and rubber bullets - but, so far, have not resorted to firearms.

The NYT also reports that the government is laying blame on its bete noire, the Muslim Brotherhood.  But, actually,

The reality that emerged from interviews with protesters — many of whom said they were independents — was more complicated and reflected one of the government’s deepest fears: that opposition to Mr. Mubarak’s rule spreads across ideological lines and includes average people angered by corruption and economic hardship as well as secular and Islamist opponents. That broad support could make it harder for the government to co-opt or crush those demanding change.

“The big, grand ideological narratives were not seen today,” said Amr Hamzawy, research director of the Carnegie Middle East Center. “This was not about ‘Islam is the solution’ or anything else.”

Instead, the protests seemed to reflect a spreading unease with Mr. Mubarak on issues from extension of an emergency law that allows arrests without charge, to his presiding over a stagnant bureaucracy that citizens say is incapable of handling even basic responsibilities.

Their size seemed to represent a breakthrough for opposition groups harassed by the government as they struggle to break Mr. Mubarak’s monopoly on political life. . . .

The marchers came from all social classes and included young men recording tense moments on cellphone cameras, and middle-age women carrying flags of the Wafd Party, one of Egypt’s opposition groups. A doctor, Wesam Abdulaziz, 29, said she had traveled two hours to join the protest. She had been to one demonstration before, concerning the treatment of Mr. Said.

“I came to change the government,” she said. “I came to change the entire regime.”

That evidently is the last thing, of course, that the US wants.  Hillary Clinton has responded by encouraging the Egyptian government to embrace the moment.  The Guardian reports:
Hillary Clinton did not criticise Egypt's government – a key American ally in the Middle East – saying only that the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest while urging all parties to avoid violence.

"We believe strongly that the Egypt government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms that respond to legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people," she said at a news conference with visiting Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh.

And the WaPo likewise reports Hillary's insistence that Egypt is "stable" (as well as Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs' comment that "Egypt is a strong ally." Also from Mrs. Clinton:
"We support the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people, and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence . . . . But our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.''

Meanwhile, "Freedom, oh freedom; Mubarak's regime is standing between us and you," the demonstrators chanted in downtown Cairo.

Again, Mubarak has a large security force to do his bidding - and there's no evidence of any cracks in their support for their 82-year-old dictator president.  It's likely a safe bet that the regime will remain; a few more protesters will die; Hillary will publicly bemoan the loss of life; Hillary - and Barack - will be silently pleased that "stability" will be preserved.

For now.

No comments:


Blog Archive

Cluster map

Search This Blog

ICAHD - 18,000 Homes Campaign (large banner)