Keeping up with Egypt


Perhaps symbolic of the Mubarak regime, protesters are hit with water as they pray

If there was ever a good time to fall ill, this was not it. Radio silence here has ended as I am finally, slowly, recovering. And what happened during the last two days? Not much. Egypt’s government is gone – dismissed by President Mubarak (although he is trying to stick around.) And the protests are still going strong. There has been far too much happening for me to recap sufficiently – though I’ll try. So in an effort to play catch up, right now protesters are not looking like they are giving up, though the curfew for Cairo at least starts in 5 minutes. The army is on the street for the first time since 1986 and in Cairo for the first time since 1977.


Internet and cell phones are still cut

There is a a strong sense of unity among the Egyptian people with many embracing army soldiers and commanders. The army has yet to fire on the protesters (as far as I can tell) and soon we will find out what will happen when the protesters are out after curfew. Despite my earlier predictions, it seems as though Mubarak will soon have to concede to the will of the Egyptian people. I have one eye on Al Jazeera (Arabic) which is finally getting live broadcasts out of Egypt. The internet and cell phone service in the country, though, remains down.

As I watch the live reports, I want to highlight some articles/analyses that have been given so far that try to understand the uprising:

  • [tweetmeme] Heather Hurlburt over at TNR, gives five vital pieces of information to keep in mind. Most important (in my mind) is the role of the military (that has never fired on Egyptian citizens) – will they enforce the curfew? Will they support the government or the protesters? The army has controlled looting and protected the National Museum (King Tut says thanks) with the help of Egyptian citizens, who apparently have taken up museum security to protect the nation’s heritage.
  • TerrorWonk adds some useful analysis as well, including the wisdom in abstention from predicting the future (if I had only listened…). The piece also covers the important role of the military and, perhaps more importantly, that this is not a movement driven by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many in the US may be wary of the Ikhwan being elected to run the country as they have close ties with Hamas (Hamas was technically the Palestinian version of the MB). Despite these (overstated) concerns, this movement is about the Egyptian people, not religion.
  • Dunn gives six possible outcomes to the situation – most ended in the fall of Mubarak. Dunn, like nearly everyone else, realizes the importance of the military (that being said, it is officially past curfew in Egypt – 4:11 – and there has been no confrontations between protesters and the military shown on AJ). The Arabist also notes the army as a wildcard in these protests.
  • Mohamed ElBaradei, the international community’s favorite opposition leader, has joined the protests and was arrested. While under house arrest, El Baradei made clear that the international community should not get involved in the protests, as they are only the concern of Egyptians. This may be a play to gain favor with the Egyptians, but it is a good move by him. (AJ is showing scenes of military personnel lining up, possibly to impose the curfew -4:17)
  • Larison looks at what the relationship between the US and Egypt could look like in the event of Mubarak’s fall and the possible election of MB to leadership. Will this have an effect on relations with Israel (probably)? Will the MB, as leaders of Egypt, abrogate the peace treaty with Israel? Stop Egypt’s part in blockading Gaza? (4:22, still nothing between protesters and army. Protesters are climbing on the tanks in Cairo)
  • Wright speaks about the solidarity between Egyptians: “People shared everything — water, cigarettes, onions (for tear gas) and information. Largely there was also an amazing discipline and restraint. Whenever violence against public property looked imminent or people were about to throw rocks, others would chant ‘silmiya, silmiya’ (peaceful, peaceful) or ‘No to violence’.”
  • Jadaliyya takes a look at the reasons why Mubarak will not fall. Namely, support from the US as well as the army not wanting to lead the country into an uncertain future.
  • After VP Biden told the press that he doesn’t see Mubarak as a dictator, Rosenberg takes a look at how and why the US found itself in the awkward position of supporting democracy and Mubarak. Conclusion: AIPAC. Interestingly, Sullivan et al. talk about leaked documents showing US support for Egyptian opposition; doesn’t say who specifically Probably ElBaradei if this is true. US has said future aid to the country may depend on how gov’t acts.

Obviously, there is so much more to this story, but for now, I am going to try to keep up with the fast pace. it is very clear that Egyptians will not be satisfied with simply a new government under Mubarak. In his address last night, in which Mubarak announced the dismissal of the government, the leader (for now) neither stepped down nor announced any type of reform. The Egyptian people will not be content with only half of the pie. Keep watching.

It will be interesting to see what happens in other countries after Egypt. Mass protests are taking place in Jordan and Yemen, while others are calling for change in Syria.

Both Images from Sullivan

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