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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Day of Ousting? Egypt Open Thread: 4 February 2011

The struggle for the future of Egypt continues.  Will today be the day that the Government falls?

Al Jazeera reports that hundreds of thousands of Egyptians are out in the streets today, continuing their protests against President Mubarak, undeterred by the thuggery exhibited by Mubarak supporters on Wednesday and Thursday.

Will today be the day that Mubarak relents and steps down?

Meanwhile, Algeria is ending its 19-year-old State of Emergency.  Will the Tunisian Fever next spread to Algiers?

The Whole World Is Watching.


  1. This could be a historic day. The tide seems to be turning in favour of progress rather than repression. But everything still hangs in the balance.

    Personally, I salute those men, women and children who have risked their lives and livelihoods for this moment.

    I’m not religious, but I’m praying silently for an 1989 solution – the Berlin Wall one, not the bloody Tianamen Square version.

    I’m also less worried now, thanks to the wise reaction of the US government of a 1979 Teheran, where Anti Americanism is the flavour of the day, and the Ayatollah’s take over the revolution.

    There are many reasons to suspect that will NOT be the case. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood are involved in any major way with the new Government, there’s a better precedent than the Taliban – i.e. the Turkish Government.

    Also, the army, trained and funded in a large part by the US, has shown itself to be a moderating influence. I was in Egypt only last year – and this is a very broad, very mixed (religiously) and relatively open Arab society in social terms.

    The fact that this protest arose from young people, with many women involved, enjoying the freedom of movement and communication, celebrating a new kind of Arab Modernity, is the greatest hope for a dynamic future.

    And the best answer to Islamophobes, and their mirror image Salafist Extremists, everywhere.  

  2. Strummerson

    I’m trying to post a weekend diary with two youtube clips.  But when I paste the embed code, it yells at me about a disallowed html tag relating to the ‘iframe.’  And anyone help me out?

    Also, the ‘contact Moose’ button only works if one uses outlook, which I resist.  I think someone should change that, or I will mount my camel and charge Moose square!

  3. Rashaverak

    as it should be.  We should encourage the forces of enlightenment and tolerance to step to the fore, but it is the brave people of Egypt who will have to decide their own fate.  For the sake of the entire Middle East, for the sake of the entire world, let us hope that they make the right choices.

  4. …the Guardian’s Middle East Editor (that paper’s coverage has been excellent) lays out the four scenarios

    Climbdown The Obama administration arm-twists Mubarak into quitting immediately and handing over power to a transitional government headed by his deputy, Omar Suleiman. That would oversee constitutional and legislative changes to pave the way for new parliamentary and presidential elections. With much talk by the regime of the need for an “honourable” solution, Mubarak is persuaded by Suleiman and the military that he needs urgent medical treatment abroad followed by a period of convalescence in distant Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.

    Protests subside The Egyptian government plays the stability card, arguing that an “orderly transition” is already under way, that constitutional changes will take time, and that Mubarak’s sudden departure will only make matters worse. Regime is likely to warn that the banned Muslim Brotherhood is orchestrating violence or will hijack popular protests. It may appeal to US concerns over regional issues, including respecting Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and confronting Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls Gaza.

    Violence escalates Large-scale bloodshed today or on subsequent days hardens the mood in the US, which suspends or halts its annual $1.3bn (£808m) in military aid to Egypt – a grave and likely game-changing blow to the position of the military. Likely to be accompanied by warnings about crimes against humanity so that continued repression carries a personal price tag for key regime figures.

    Standoff Protests continue without either serious violence or Mubarak’s formal departure while dialogue between government and opposition gathers momentum and constitutional changes start to look convincing, leading to splits in an already divided and largely leaderless protest movement. The opposition has only a negative platform – that the president leave. Negotiations over a transition would be complex.

    The Guardians Lede-like live feed is here

    And another placard

    ‘Pharaoh’ is not a term of endearment in Modern Egypt

  5. jsfox

    via http://andrewsullivan.theatlan

    The Muslim Brotherhood has said it would not field a presidential candidate or seek ministers in a new cabinet, ABC reports. Christine Amanpour, who interviewed Mubarak yesterday, is interpreting the move as calculated to soothe western fears of an Islamist government succeeding Mubarak.


    “We stand with all the political forces supporting dialogue with whoever wants to implement reforms in the country after the departure of this unjust, corrupt tyrant,” Badie ( MB’s supreme guide Mohammed Badie) told the Qatar-based satellite channel, referring to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

    “We have a single demand. Once it is met we will engage in dialogue,” he said in response to a question about the Muslim Brotherhood’s willingness to enter dialogue with newly-appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman.


    Badie said in Friday’s interview that the departure of Mubarak after 32 years in power “is the demand of all the people. That he leaves today. That he doesn’t stay a single hour more. That this corrupt regime leaves today.”

    He added that the departure would be “followed by a transition period under the vice president with a full mandate” and signaled his willingness to participate in talks with the vice-president but only after Mubarak stepped down.

  6. to see how this day unfolds.  I’m glued to the news coverage.  Hmm…I sceptical about Suleiman.  

    If Muburak resigns, now, everything will get more interesting in the region.  What has been downplayed I think is the Israeli reaction to everything.  Scratch that, I haven’t heard much in the media other than from the US and Egypt.

    Would be nice to know what the global perspective is about Egypt.

  7. jsfox

    a protester organizer is now reading the demands of the movement on Egyptian State TV.


    AJE is reporting that a protest organizer — or, at least, a person claiming to be a protest organizer — is on Egyptian state TV right now, reading demands of the protesters.

  8. jsfox

    The demonstrators have been calling today “the day of departure” for Hosni Mubarak and, with their mission complete, presumably for themselves, too. Many protesters have been in Tahrir Square for as long as a week — exhausted from stress, from having to sleep body-to-body on cold pavement and patchy grass, and from having to improvise (with miraculous effect) a static defense strategy against an enemy with virtually limitless supply lines.

    And yet today it seemed as if many of the protesters want never to leave. The atmosphere a few days ago was doomed but resolute, like the last days of the Alamo. Now it was ecstatic, with an optimism that seemed wholly warranted. “We understand Mubarak’s strategy, and we reject him,” a young man who spent five days in the square told me. “This is a place of liberation [tahrir], not negotiation. Over our dead bodies.” Two days ago those last words might have been sounded prophetic, but now they sounded merely figurative.

  9. jsfox

    As The Lede reported, witnesses in Cairo said Egyptian military police officers had detained and beaten human rights advocates after raiding their offices on Thursday.

    As many as 30 people – including some of the country’s most prominent human rights advocates, researchers from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and journalists – were still being detained by the Egyptian government on Friday after Egyptian security police raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo on Thursday.

    Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said no direct contact had been made with those detained and their whereabouts remained unknown, though there was an indication that they were being held at an army camp in a suburb of the capital. Representatives visited the camp, but the army refused to provide information, the groups said.

    “We’ve now got firm information as to where they’re being detained,” said Malcolm Smart of Amnesty International, but “no official confirmation of their arrest.”


  10. …the concerted campaign against journalists in Cairo

    CAPTION: A plainclothes policeman (left) moves to attack a foreign journalist as others beat a protester during demonstrations in Cairo. Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    The soldier appeared helpful at first, offering to walk us through to Cairo’s Tahrir Square as we attempted to cover the latest protests on what had been dubbed Mubarak’s “day of departure”. But it was not the square that we were being led to but the ministry of the interior…

    Read more on The Guardian

  11. Rashaverak

    That is currently the headline of the lead story at the front page of the New York Times web site.

    CAIRO – Cracks in the Egyptian establishment’s support for President Hosni Mubarak began to appear Friday as jubilant crowds of hundreds of thousands packed the capital’s central Tahrir Square to call for his ouster, this time unmolested by either security police or uniformed Mubarak loyalists.

    While ousting Mr. Mubarak remained the principal objective of the throngs in the square, leaders of the protest movement began grappling with the question of what might come next, hoping to avoid repeating history and handing power to another military-backed president for life.

    In Washington, President Obama and his aides were in discussions with Egyptian officials about a plan for passing power from Mr. Mubarak to a provisional government headed by the current vice president, Omar Suleiman. But it was not clear how they were going to induce the stubborn and prideful 82-year-old president to step down.


  12. although maybe I’m just being myopic.

    From al Jazeera live blog Feb. 4

    US Embassy statement:

    We have seen a video that alleges a US embassy vehicle was involved in a hit and run incident that injured dozens in Cairo. We are certain that no embassy employees or diplomats were involved in this incident. On January 28, however, a number of our US Embassy vehicles were stolen. Since these vehicles were stolen, we have heard reports of their use in violent and criminal acts. If true, we deplore these acts and the perpetrators.

  13. amr

    This is my first contribution to this interesting forum, so hi everyone. 🙂

    The current situation has a lot of critical factors to it. I’d like to list certain important factors first and later on refer to them in a more in depth view of the situation.

    1) Our current constitution has three particular laws, 76, 77, and 88. The first two state the term of the president, which is two terms each six years and has the right to be re-elected indefinitely. 88 is rather interesting because it gives the president solely powers to modify the constitution dismantle the House of Representatives (HOR) and the Congress. HOR can modify the constitution if and only if third of the house approved a certain bill.

    2) In case if the president dies or resigns, the vice president takes his place for a period of 60 days until a president gets elected. If a vice president is not appointed office by the time there is no president for whatever reason, the head of the HOR becomes the president for a period of 60 days.

    3) The current HOR consists of

    99% from the National (Anti)Democratic Party (NDP), which is the main cause for all of the current situation we live in today, as the previous government was mostly Gamal’s business budies. They were corrupt and used their positions for personal business gains.

    Now people in Tahrir square demands Mubarak to leave now, the problem with that is (2) and since HOR is basically NDP they are indirectly putting the fate of the country back in the hands of the people that caused all that corruption.

    The government used to do all kinds of nasty stuff, black bagging, torture, getting people thrown to prison of crimes they have nothing to do with whatsoever. However recent attacks from Pro-Mubarak thugs does not make any sense at all to be thought of as ways for the new government to silence people. Because that’s just simply idiotic at best.

    However since the Attorney General recently frozen bank accounts of most of the previous government officials and some of the heads in the NDP and put their names on airport’s blacklists, they might be the guys behind the Pro-Mubarak thugs to put pressure on Mubarak to let go of them run away or else make his picture even uglier and push people more toward the demand of getting Mubarak to resign now, which effectively mean them getting back in power again, see (2) and (3).

    Of course Mubarak is fully aware of all that. And he is not all angels either. He now wants first and foremost to go out with dignity and pride by finishing his last term and changing the Constitution to be more humane, so he has a last good line in history books.

    I personally believe that the “fair” outcome of all this should be Army taking control of things, resulting in declaring the current government defunct and repeat what happened in the first Revolution in the 50’s. Write down a new constitution as the current one has its fare share of imbalances already, and have a fair elections. But of course that won’t happen, as you may have noticed the only minister that didn’t change for the past several governmental changes including this one, is Tantawy, head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, now why would Mubarak refuse to change Tantawy?

  14. Stipes

    is playing out right now.  

    After so much violence on Wednesday, (and the subsequent images that made it out to the international media), I don’t think it’s surprising that the regime allowed these protests today.

    With the international media looking on, Mubarak would have only increased external pressure for his removal by instigating a repeat of the violence from Wednesday.

    He’s playing nice right now for the international press.  With their focus on Tahrir square, he was free to pull all sorts of nasty stuff today, like raiding legal and human rights organizations, locking up/beating up journalists and continuing his shameless propaganda on Nile TV.

    Mubarak is banking on the fact that his token concessions will make him seem reasonable to the international community, and once the crowds in the square dissipate, he can use his vaunted security apparatus to deal with these protesters privately and individually.

    Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical here, but I’m worried that we’re being distracted from what is really happening by the heat, light and noise from Tahrir square.  Egypt is a true police state with one of the largest per capita ratio of police to civilians of almost any country in the world.  They have the sheer manpower needed to deal with these protesters on a very personal basis.

    I don’t think that the regime has been truly rocked back on its heels yet.

  15. Shaun Appleby

    Bit of a problem in Sinai:

    Unknown attackers have blown up a pipeline that runs through El-Arish area of Egypt’s north Sinai area and supplies gas to Israel via Jordan, according to Egypt’s state television reports.

    Egypt-Israel gas pipeline attacked Al Jazeera 5 Feb 11

    Suspicion has fallen on the Bedouin tribesmen of the Sinai who made an attempt on the pipeline as recently as last July, apparently.

  16. DeniseVelez

    CAIRO (AP) – Protest leaders say they have met with Egypt’s prime minister to discuss ways to ease President Hosni Mubarak out of office so negotiations can begin on the nation’s future.

    Abdel-Rahman Youssef, a youth activist, says he and other protest figures met with Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq late Friday. He underlines the meeting dealt only with ways to arrange Mubarak’s departure and that protests will continue until that happens.

    Under one proposal, Mubarak would deputize Vice President Omar Suleiman with his powers and step down “in some way, either in a real departure or a political one,” Youssef says.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

    Looking for more on this – don’t see anything yet.

    But I’m barely awake and need coffee.

  17. creamer

    I have a bad feeling. In a government as corrupt as Egypt’s, there are a lot of 2nd tier government and military types with their hands in dirty money. The longer this plays out, the harder it will be for real change. If they wait until September, you will simply have new faces at the top, with the same dirty hands passing out money.

  18. jsfox

    President Hosni Mubarak appeared increasingly isolated on Saturday, with protests entering their 12th day and the Obama administration and some members of the Egyptian military and civilian elite pursuing plans to nudge him from power.

    I think we are getting close to the end of Mubarak.

  19. amr

    Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and I’ll try to keep contributing more.

    As for the secret services treatment to foreign journalists, you should see how they treat their own country men and women. Its been like that for decades.

    Hopefully things will turn out for the better.

    As for today, Mubarak is obviously deliberately ignoring people’s demands. He today was meeting with the minister of commerce and trade. And two generals from the Army today asked the people in Tahrir Sq. to leave.

    I fear that Mubarak will leave people in the square for days in hope that they will grow tired and out of supplies until they finally be forced to go home.

    I still think the only sane move is that the Army throws away the government with all its branches and declare a new state with a new constitution.

  20. HappyinVT

    including Mubarak and his son, have resigned.  Is it the first step or the last?  Will it embolden the protesters?

    CNN has a reporter near Tahrir Square who says the protesters are very happy but not yet ready to let Mubarak off the hook.

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