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Egypt Appears on the Edge of Revolution

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It seems there is as much confusion in Washington about its long-time ally as there is in Cairo. Vice President Joe Biden is saying President Mubarak is not a dictator and shouldn’t step down, the White House is threatening to cut aid and pressing for communications links to be re-opened.

It is Tunisia on a far grander scale, and much more at stake. Egypt under Mubarak and his assassinated predecessor Anwar Sadat, has been a key link between the U.S. and Israel.
Israeli sources said Mubarak had announced a new government would be installed Saturday.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have ignored a nighttime curfew and police, backed by soldiers have been unable to stop them. At least 20 deaths were reported Friday. Hundreds were hurt. Arabic satellite channels reported that the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party were torched by protesters Friday.

Internet wizards around the world have set up ways to help use Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Wikileaks. Some have gone back to the basics: slow speed telephone dialups. Even faxes, which are being sent to schools in hopes they will be passed around among the masses.

Mubarak is reported to have tried to reach out to people through some of these electronic means to ask what they want. The answer is simple, they want his 30-year rule to end.

The concept that Third World people will accept dictatorships that would never survive in the West appears to be standing on very thin ice. And by and large, radical Islam does not seem to be a major factor.

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  • Baronius

    “by and large, radical Islam does not seem to be a major factor”

    It wasn’t a major factor in the Iranian revolution, either, until all of a sudden it was. The Muslim Brotherhood is organized and armed, and while I hope that the Egyptian people experience more freedom and prosperity as a result of these protests, I’ve got a bad feeling about them.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Oy vey, the ever-present Muslim threat!

    That’s the reason why all the good men won’t come to the aid of their country.

  • Deathrider6

    To be honest I don’t think that the “muslim threat” can be discounted if the Mubarak government falls. Nature abhors a vacuum. I do feel that the US Goverment needs to handle the situation with kid gloves and make sure that they do not push Mubarak too far. I know that Israel is concerned (at least according to the news) and would not be suprised if Lybia is VERY concerned. For the most part the region has been fairly stable in the last 20 years or so. It woud not be beneficial to anyone if the whole region unraveled. I am very,very concerned. The current situation in North Africa as a whole if it continues to spread could destabilize the whole mediterranean region as well as make things stickier in the middle east.

    In my opinion the situation is serious enough to warrant careful observation by anyone who has interests in the region and could possibly cause economic disruption far beyond the region. I sincerly hope that things are worked out so the situation is resolved with as little bloodshed as possible. I know I’m asking a bit much but it beats the worst case scenario running through the back of my head.

  • albertacowpoke

    There is a lot at stake in the region. One particular issue is the Suez Canal. Of course all oil gets transported through there. I agree previous comments, a vacuum, if created, will be filled. The poverty and high unemployment rate among the young has to be a major concern. It is also an opportunity for Iran to expand its influence. We should all be concerned.

  • Baronius

    I think it’s possible for something good to come out of this. Mubarak is a thug. He’s perfectly willing to throw his civilian cabinet under the bus, because his strength lies in the military. We shouldn’t side with Mubarak just because there are worse people in Egypt. But yeah, there definitely are worse people in Egypt.

    If reforms lead to greater rights and an independent civilian government, that’d be fine, even if the Mubarak family stays in power.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Baronius,

    This is a message from Twitter that I translated from Arabic:

    “Yesterday, the Egyptian people, without leadership, were civilized, stable, young people have been cleaning the place sit, there has been one incident of harassment, did not distinguish Muslim from Christian #jan25″

    Here is a pertinent quote from this video

    “We will not be silenced, whether you’re a Christian, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re an atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights, and we will have our rights, one way or the other! We will never be silenced!”

  • Baronius

    Cindy – So what? Do you think that everyone in Egypt feels the same way? I know you’re rooting for them; I’m rooting for them. But I remember the ouster of the Shah, who was also a really bad guy. It turned into the “Islamic Revolution”.

    There also seems to be a change in the last day or so. Before, it was the police against students and the middle class. Now, it’s the army against more organized, violent forces.

  • Robert Weller

    The absolutely worse that I can think could happen would be for Mubarak to fall and for Egyptians to think we tried to keep him in power. The U.S. has plenty of history in abandoning allies. Look at Vietnam (and I am not saying the war should have gone on). We abandoned South Africa in Angola.

  • Baronius

    Revolutions get hijacked all the time. Look at the American Revolution and the different visions that the participants had. Our first government didn’t last 10 years. The French Revolution turned into the era of Napolean. The Russian February Revolution was overthrown by the October Revolution. There were a couple of different governments between the fall of the Shah and the rise of Khomeni. If this thing turns authoritarian, Cindy, I hope it will sober you in your beliefs.

  • Robert Weller

    Iranian history didn’t start with the Shah. We ousted the elected leader and put the Shah, who had ties with the Nazis, in power in Iran.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    You really shouldn’t read into things I say. I never said revolutions cannot get hijacked. I simply offered you some real evidence that demonstrates some real feelings. Take from them what you will, but don’t attribute what you presume I mean to me.

    Secondly, it is likely to turn authoritarian (as per usual) with the aid of the United States gov’t.

    (I can’t find the thread where you suggested that the Iraqi’s were experiencing order and some other benefits regarding the war, so I will put this here for you:

    Top 10 Underreported Stories – Time Magazine

    1. The Outcome in Iraq

    “On the contrary, seven years and counting of a war that economists have concluded will cost America more than $3 trillion has produced an unstable Iraq in which Iran wields more political influence than the U.S. does. Violence continues, albeit at levels far lower than the worst days of 2006.”)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Thank you for pointing that out to Baronius, Robert. His history recall doesn’t ever include the installation of dictators by his own country.

    Joe Biden (the piece of slime): Biden: Egypt leader Mubarak not a ‘dictator,’ shouldn’t step down.

    When things get totalitarian, look for the USA to be helping the dictators.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Oh and Hussein was one of the USA’s creatures as well. There had been a popular coup in Iraq that was supported by the people. They were going to nationalize the oil industry, etc. The US and the Brits put Hussein in power to create an ally.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    “. If this thing turns authoritarian, Cindy, I hope it will sober you in your beliefs.”

    As if it weren’t totalitarian already.

    What I find fascinating, however, is how the staunchest defenders of the American brand of democracy and freedom, and the American way of life, all come out of the woodwork and almost in unison sing the same song: Nation-building is good but only under America’s benevolent guidance and supervision; home-grown revolutions are bad because they can be hijacked by unsavory elements; and there’s always that favorite hobby horse, the ever-present Islamic threat.

    What’s equally amazing how blind they all are to their own failings and necessarily limited perspective for viewing world events through the prism of American interests. Yet, these purveyors of conventional wisdom and defenders of freedom and democracy everywhere have the gumption to curtail their usually uncompromising moral stance on almost any subject under the sun by assuming the aura of due caution and reasonableness, sincerely believing we’re unaware of their real motives and inauthentic speech. Either way, it’s an extreme case of willfully perpetrated deception or of self-deception – take your pick.

    Nice try, Baronius, but no banana.

  • Baronius

    Cindy – You passed along that tweet because you thought it meant something. You wouldn’t have posted it otherwise, would you? How many tweets about bad parking, cool music, etc., have you passed along? None. You thought that this applied to the conversation.

    The tweet also corresponds with your belief system. It’s reasonable to conclude that you pased along the tweet because you agree with its message.

  • Baronius

    Robert and Cindy, I never said that I supported the Shah or any other oppressive ruler, whether we installed him or not. Why would you think I did? I want nothing more than to see a free, peaceful, democratic, tolerant Egypt emerge from this crisis.

    And if we’re breaking Godwin’s Law here, you might want to look at the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Of course I thought i meant something. I just think you are wrong in what you attributed to me.

    I think it meant that people certainly can be civil and respectful to one another without the need for authority to intervene. People don’t simply deteriorate into chaos and start butchering people who disagree with them when left to their own devices.

    That is not the same thing as saying that revolutions are never co-opted. Or that justice will alway prevail. Or any other thing you may think I was suggesting.

  • Robert Weller

    Mubarak pulled one out of his hat. He named a vice president. It is his intelligence chief. I think he may have made a mistake here. In a sense this would make it easier to kick him out, or worse, because there now is someone to take his place. Baronius: my comments about the shah were meant for our government and our people, not you, and certainly not Cindy.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    There are reports that clashes in US-backed Yemen are increasing.

    So, the US, for its having supported dictators is now in a predicament where when the dictators are overthrown the new power structure is likely to be hostile to the US.

    (Note to Roger: That is something I think that we might point out to Glenn.)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Police have apparently used live ammo (machine-guns) and killed some protesters in Egypt. (story)

  • Boeke

    11 – Cindy : “”On the contrary, seven years and counting of a war that economists have concluded will cost America more than $3 trillion has produced an unstable Iraq in which Iran wields more political influence than the U.S. does. Violence continues, albeit at levels far lower than the worst days of 2006.”)

    and…

    14-Roger: “What’s equally amazing how blind they all are to their own failings and necessarily limited perspective for viewing world events through the prism of American interests”

    …leads me to ask “why don’t we recognize and FIRE the decision makers who screwed up so monumentally? And make sure they never again get such positions of power?

    We don’t have to tar and feather them, we don’t have to run them out of town on a rail, we don’t have to prosecute them before the ICC, all we have to do is fire them and make sure they don’t get a chance again to make such monumental errors.

    But no! We reward them and put them in even higher positions of power! Failure seems to be the “open sesame” to the halls of power.

    We do the same in finances. The worst performers are rewarded with billions, their failures are bailed out, and then they get to gamble with new money!

  • Baronius

    “real motives and inauthentic speech”

    What a stupid thing to say, Roger. Where do you think my sentiments lie: with the brutal dictator who is undermining Israel, or with the people marching for the freedoms of all Egyptians, including the Coptic Christians? Believe me, even if I were thinking solely in terms of US interests, I’d see the reformers as the better choice. But on any grounds – religion, human rights, economics, US interests, international stability, the security of Israel – I don’t want to see the Muslim Brotherhood gain control.

  • Robert Weller

    Lie, lie, lie. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is being violated every day in the case of Pfc. Manning. His speedy trial rights have been taken away from him. For those of you for whom the phony WMDs isn’t enough. Read the books on Pat Tillman, a real American hero. Lie, lie, lie. I think we should resume the draft, now.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Stupid or not, Baronius, at least you’ve come forth to correct me and said your peace. Good for you.

    As to your fear of the Muslim Brotherhood, if it’s not irrational perhaps it’s misguided. It’s their country the last I checked, so who are we to say what ought to transpire? Of course we may express our druthers but isn’t a sterile kind of enterprise? My contention is, it’s precisely when we’re meddling with other countries and cultures and try to guide their development rather than allow them to come unto their own that we’re interfering with natural historical processes and cause more harm than good. Eventually, history has a way of righting itself, and we certainly shouldn’t be presumptive to the point of knowing what’s best and acting on that “knowledge” as though we knew the future. We have too many blind spots ourselves to assume that kind of posture with respect to other cultures and nations.

    So yes, you’re still looking at the events through the prism of, if not American interests, than at least American ideology, as though that ideology itself were some kind of universal and irrevocable standard and beyond questioning.

  • Ruvy

    Look, boys and girls, Mubarak sent his successor out of the country along with his wife. When that happened, the conclusion of all this was foregone.

    For a few moments libération will have its noises at the barricades, like it did at the Paris Commune a century and a half ago. And then Egypt will fall like a ripe plum into the hands of the íkhwan muslimía Muslim Brotherhood – which has been waiting for this moment for decades.

    What interests me is not Egypt – but Jordan. Real peace can be had with the right kind of régime there. If the Jordanian version of the íkhwan muslimía seizes power there, we will have a multi-front war here when the Wahhabi (or Shi’a) pigs decide to finally attack.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielskiof

    Here goes Ruvy with his usual “boys and girls.” Little does he realize he turns off all potential recipients by the very form of address.

    No matter, I suppose, because Ruvy seems more intent on listening to himself than on making an impact.

    To each his own, I guess.

  • Ruvy

    You don’t like my form of address? Stop speaking like children! And get this straight in your thick, uncomprehending heads!!

    In none of these demonstrations – not in Tunis, Sfax, Cairo, Suez, Alexandria or anywhere in Egypt – has anyone mentioned “Israel” or “Zionists”. When there is no Wahhabi bullshit artist out there to orchestrate the music and supply the phony patter, the Arabs KNOW who their oppressors and enemies are – and they want them dead and gone! Nobody has bothered to raise the vierkoleur of Arab Apartheid, the “Palestinian” flag. No Arabs give a damn. That should be a signal message to ALL of you who whine and whine about how Israel is such a terrible danger – people like Kenn Jacobine, Tolstoy’s Cat (Cindy) and others! Israel doesn’t matter to these people and never has.

    The day you hear “Death to the Jews!”, or “Death to Israel” at any of these demonstrations will be the day you know the new dictator has taken over – for his bullshit “blame Israel” line will be back in play to deflect the evil of whatever murderous and corrupt ruling class has emerged in the Arab world.

    LEARN SOMETHING, FOR A CHANGE!!!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Robert Weller (#23), I am sympathetic to PFC Manning, but you’re mistaken in writing, “The Uniform Code of Military Justice is being violated every day in the case of Pfc. Manning. His speedy trial rights have been taken away from him.”

    The UCMJ does not specify a deadline or timeframe in which a trial must occur. Its Article 32, however, does direct that “No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a thorough and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made.”

    That phase is now underway. As I’m sure you can appreciate, this case is unprecedented in its evidentiary scope. Discovery entails review of literally hundreds of thousands of top-secret government files.

    Moreover, the Army will conduct a mental-health investigation next month to determine PFC Manning’s fitness to stand trial. The results could become contentious and time consuming.

    I’m no lawyer, but as I understand it, the Manual for Courts-Martial, in particular Rule 707, will come into play regarding a speedy trial, but only once the Article 32 pre-trial investigations have run their course, which probably will not happen until the spring.

    Meanwhile, it’s simply wrong to state, as you do, that PFC Manning’s rights have been taken away from him.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    If you’re treating them like children, they’re going to act like children. But of course you may very well desire that.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, are you aware of the huge amount of hilarity to be found in your words when you castigate people for speaking like children whilst doing that every time you write?

    Given that the “boy who cried wolf” has more credibility than you, please do feel free to join the adults any time you get over your superstitions and irrational fears…

  • http://heloise8.wordpress.com/ Heloise

    The talking heads are calling this a “revolt” and that the looters were prisoners set free on purpose to cause chaos in Cairo.

    Are they trying to downplay what I see as a revolution by calling it a revolt? Democracy is a huge two-edged sword and comes with a price that now the Arab world seems willing to pay for precious freedoms.

    Out of Africa tomorrow for the Americans left in Egypt. The revolt might have taken on the Tunisian model but I still think it is a tweeted revolution.

    Heloise

  • http://heloise8.wordpress.com/ Heloise

    Ruvy your rants don’t make any sense to me.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Surprised at you, Heloise. Conservative such as you!

  • John Lake

    Today it seems we in America are being told that Mubarak’s Egypt aids us in keeping weapons out of the hands of Hezbollah, and Hamas.
    Here is an important view on the situation.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Al –

    When it comes to PFC Manning, as much as I think he might be a hero (IF he was indeed the one who sent the info to Assange), I really don’t think that those who are confining him are violating regulations. In my experience, military security personnel normally are VERY careful about what they do, because they know all too well that wrong actions on their part may very well ruin the case and result in a mistrial.

    Of course my experience was pre-Al-Ghraib….

  • Clavos

    Abu Ghraib…

  • John Lake

    the police on Saturday were listening so intently to the young students demonstrating that violence from the police came on violent threats against Mubarak.
    Biden is following. Keep the word coming, Cindy.

  • John Lake

    It has not been made clear that Mubarak’s appointments, one a professional jailer, appeared structured to crush the student unrest and demonstrations (which must have already been in early stages at that time)

  • John Lake

    boys and girls why don’t we try to stay with the issue, in such an important matter. The Muslim Brotherhood is a part of that society as the evangelicals are part of American society. (that you know comes from the media).The demonstrators say:”We will not be silenced, whether you’re a Christian, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re an atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights, and we will have our rights, one way or the other! We will never be silenced!” That may be it, the bottom line, the defining statement…

  • John Lake

    Anwar Sadat was killed during a celebration of a new alliance with Israel on armed forces day,1981. The planes flying over were thought to be a part of the celebration. Sadat was assassinated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
    As we learn about this history, we can more understand what is happening.
    If we all make an effort, we can tear this site up with meaninful dialogue. In a good way.

  • John Lake

    “French Mirage jet fighters, part of the day’s pageantry, screeched overhead at the very moment when several soldiers riding in a truck that was part of the military parade jumped to the ground and strode toward the reviewing stand. Most people watching, including, presumably, the people in the stand, believed the soldiers were conducting a pre-arranged performance. In a way, they were.
    One soldier threw a grenade while others opened fire at Sadat and his entourage. One soldier was seen in a semi-crouch, taking aim and firing. Pandemonium immediately broke out in the stands as people rushed for cover, trampling others who’d either been hit or were frozen in shock. Blood pooled in the stands immediately.
    Sadat was rushed to Maadi Military Hospital, where he arrived without a heartbeat”

  • Ruvy

    And apparently, the Muslim Brotherhood is back on the scene. CNN (count on them to help out the Wahhabi) gave them a voice at this demonstration. So, now we will see the Muslim Brotherhood slowly take over this “revolution” and we will have Saudi Egypt along with Saudi Arabia. Good thing the Soviets built the Aswan dam at the Sudanese border. The great working class of the Soviet Union gave us a knife at the back of the new rulers of Egypt.

  • John Lake

    Yes (#42) that demonstrator advocated the destruction of Israel, but Ruvi seems more interested in the demonstrator’s Muslim garb.
    The demonstrators say:”We will not be silenced, whether you’re a Christian, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re an atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights, and we will have our rights, one way or the other! We will never be silenced!” That may be it, the bottom line, the defining statement…