30 January 2011

Egypt Update

Thousands have gathered in Tahrir square again chanting their continuing demand for the resignation of Mubarak.

Jet fighters and military helicopters are flying low over cairo as more army trucks appear in Tahrir square. Does this indicate military solidarity with the current regime, or the opposite? The jets have now gone away. They didn’t have the presumed intended effect of scaring the protesters, but only made them more angry.

Somehow Al Jazeera has managed to get back on the air with their excellent coverage of the situation as it occurs in Egypt. I am filled with admiration for their tenacity. Watch Al Jazeera live here http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/ for full coverage and analysis.
Hillary Clinton reports that there is still no discussion of cutting aid to Egypt. She also said “we expect free fair elections as an outcome of what is happening in Egypt.” This is the first time such a statement has been made by the US.

Today Clinton appeared on Fox News Sunday, NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union and ABC’s This Week. The Obama administration are working to get a grip on the rapidly changing situation occurring in Egypt.

When she was asked whether Hosni Mubarak had taken appropriate steps to hold on to power she responded with “It’s not a question of who retains power…It’s how are we going to respond to the legitimate needs and grievances expressed by the Egyptian people and chart a new path. Clearly, the path that has been followed has not been one that has created that democratic future, that economic opportunity that people in the peaceful protests are seeking.”

She further stated that free and fair elections are expected to be one of the outcomes of the upheaval and continued by clarifying that outcome as “an orderly, peaceful transition to real democracy, not faux democracy, like the elections we saw in Iran two years ago.”

Although the new rhetoric from the White House has a stronger tone than has previously been heard it’s still possible the Mubarak administration will find some flexibility in it. A tweeter known to me only as abuaardvark commented that the “Clinton comments seem aimed less at Mubarak than at military officers who may soon seize power that US expects democratic transition after…” I confess I had the same impression as I heard her remarks.

Meanwhile, back in Egypt the citizens are being manipulated and terrified by the sudden absence of the police forces. Widespread looting has taken place, including the break-in at the Egyptian Museum. There has been a great deal of talk about the withdrawal of the police force as a method of creating chaos and that agents provocateur are operating among the gangs and local thugs in the looting of shops and private homes. State television is constantly beaming pictures of criminal gangs; probably in an effort to sow more seeds of terror. There have also been reports that before leaving, the police opened the jails and prisons, allowing the inmates to re-enter and wreak havoc amongst the citizenry.

The new vice president, Omar Suleiman is “acceptable” to Israel and US because of his past interactions and support of the Zionist regime. However, it is precisely this history that makes him unacceptable to the Egyptian people. Chafiq’s appointment as Prime Minister points to a strong military operated government. Both these men are remnants of the old regime and will hardly be palatable to the Egyptian public.

No comments: