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Egyptian Army turns on Mubarak

The first sign of tension arose when hundreds of people rallied in the intersection in front of the prime minister’s office, barred from taking their protest any closer to the ornate building by armored personnel carriers and a line of soldiers armed with Tasers.

The crowd returned to a chant heard often in the days before Mr. Mubarak fell, replacing his name with the prime minister’s: “The people want the overthrow of Ahmed Shafiq!”

Military police surrounded the protesters and kept them from leaving until late at night, witnesses said, while in Tahrir about a thousand people began to pitch tents and settle in for the night.

After midnight, soldiers and police officers took over the square.

Salma Said was asleep in a tent when it began to fall down on top of her. Outside people were screaming, and she emerged to see people being beaten by soldiers and armed plainclothes security officers wearing masks.

“They had their faces covered like criminals,” she said, “They only showed their eyes.”

NY Times, Feb. 27 2011

A mere few weeks ago, under the klieg lights of the world’s attentions, the Egyptian Army turned on its ostensible head, Hosni Mubarak, and eying the future, it sent him packing (to an exclusive resort area where he has a palace.)   With the support of demonstrators, it asserted its backing for reforms, and promptly installed as a new temporary government a cluster of the old government’s ministers, though tossing in a few new “liberal” faces – one for the Ministry of Tourism, a major income area.  Following this bit of face-dressing,  the military, with heavy interests in the business status quo, began to issue cries for law and order.  And in the last days they have begin to seriously crack down on demonstrators, last night having cleared Tahrir Square.

Egyptian Army turns on demonstrators

Whether this presages the fate of Egypt’s revolution, and that of Tunisia, and those other current uprisings in the region remains to be seen.   As Gaddafi is showing in Libya, deeply entrenched interests do not let go lightly.  In Egypt Mubarak’s obvious lack of popular support, and the dangers he presented for them, made it possible for the military to sacrifice him and take on the mantle of the future’s protectors.   From a business viewpoint, stability and “law and order” are, as usual, the argument for profit.  It seems clear the military is not interested in divesting itself of its business side, and hence the current crack down.  Whether the demonstrators concur is another question.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s neighbor to the west, Libya, seems in the final throws of its revolt against the 42 year regime of Gaddafi, whose recent enuncio’s to his followers seem increasingly the unhinged utterances of a Shakespearean tragicomic fool.   He seems clearly inclined to die rather than submit to the popular will, seeing conspiracies of all kinds as the source of his downfall, rather than, of course, his own actions over the decades.

Tunisia, where 3 were killed todayIraq, 20 killed todayEgypt, where army removed demonstrators from Tahrir Square

Meantime it is clear that nerves of authorities are fraying in Iran, Syria, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, not to mention in Georgetown, Washington D.C., where the misguided and cynical foreign policies of the United States of the last 60 years are rapidly unraveling.  A few safe bets: oil prices are going up, the US will behind the scenes support “stability” over democracy, and most plans for the future predicated on control of major oil reserves are no longer valid.


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